The last time that Namco decided to give their Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune (WMMT for short) series a shake in the US was with WMMT3. 4 was skipped over, possibly in part due to the extensive online features the game boasted but also the US arm of the company has been promoting their Dead Heat racing game here for the past couple of years. I’ve had frequent requests about the possibility of WMMT4 being released in the US but without any direct involvement with that, the best I can say is hope for someone to import the “International Version” (which is in English) to an arcade near you.
Perhaps now that will change slightly as Namco has announced that the 5th iteration of the series, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5, is headed for testing in Japan on Oct. 19th and 20th. It can be assumed that some of the features found in WMMT4 (the LCD cabinet, the online play) will be kept for 5 but other than this location test announcement website, there aren’t many details to share for the moment.
As for guessing as to whether the game will make it out West in an official capacity, it seems unlikely given what occurred with 4. Namco has to play it smart as this is not the only driver they have on their roster at the moment. Earlier this year they showed off Dead Heat Riders, a motorcycle version of their Dead Heat car racing game (although I’m not sure what is going on with that – indications were that it was supposed to release at the beginning of the summer but that apparently did not happen), they also released Mario Kart Arcade DX to Japanese arcades. In a choice between MK and WMMT, they are probably going to have much more success with the highly recognized Mario Kart. We’ll know for sure what the deal is come IAAPA next month, where I’m placing my bet that we will see Mario Kart there showing up to do battle with the new Batman driver.