This week we have the Amusement Expo 2014 trade show in Las Vegas, where Bandai Namco will be showcasing their latest driving game Mario Kart Arcade GP DX right before it hits the wide market. The game is already available to play at the many Dave & Busters locations across the US but in April it will be available for purchase by other venues out there worldwide. I received some new details about the game that are worth sharing here, in particular in regards to the online features.
First off the info I received, that I received via way of a distributor (screenshots in this thread are courtesy of Bandai Namco however), mentions the default features for the game :
Mario Kart STARTS with TEN courses, TWELVE characters, 22 different cars, and THREE different ways of playing the game.
For those three different ways of racing, we’ve heard of those before but I don’t recall reading this much detail about them:
1. Grand Prix Mode- 1 player mode. Playing against the computer in 5 different “Cups” and 4 courses in each cup for a total of 20 different levels. In ONLY single player mode will there be 20 different courses. In VS. Mode and CO-OP Mode there are 10 courses to choose from.
2. VS Mode- 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 players can play against each other with the individual cabinets being linked.
3. CO-OP Mode- Players can team up together against their friends or the computer. Throughout the race the two players’ carts will come together as one. When this happens, one player is driving the car, and one player Is shooting opponents. The player shooting opponents can use the steering wheel to turn 360 degrees to fire upon other drivers with green shells. VERY COOL!
Another piece of documentation that came with what I was sent also mentions “10 completely redesigned courses with new aerial and underwater sections!” It also mentions that in CO-OP mode when a Kart is fused you have unlimited green shells to fire. With the first version of the game there will be 90 different items you can pickup by driving over the ? icons on the track, what items being available are randomized at the beginning of each race. More items will be added with the online updates mentioned below, with it reaching a total of 150 planned items after 5 years (the version releasing now still has quite a bit – 90 items). I’m not aware of any home version of MK having that many items to choose from.
Now for some of the details about the online part. This is Bandai Namco’s first major push for online features in an arcade game outside of Asia. They have tested the waters with the idea when they released the kit version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Unlimited but that was nowhere near as big a release as MKAGPDX. If you are an operator, then you have to purchase a pair of specialized router devices to connect the machines to the internet but other than that the online portion will be free (no revenue sharing or anything like that which has occurred on some of Namco’s overseas online titles like Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 4). No Banapassport card system is mentioned in any of the documentation.
… once a year the entire game will get a makeover by adding more courses, more characters, more karts, and more items. So if you think about it, every year the operator is getting a “new game” that is new and refreshed which keeps revenue high. This will happen 5 times because there is one major update per year. The cost of these updates are included in the price of the game.
The game begins with 10 Courses(in VS. MODE) and at the end of the 5 years the game will have a total of 30 Unique Courses, 60 Total when including reverse courses.
The game begins with 12 Characters and at the end of the 5 years it will have a total of 20 characters.
The game begins with 22 Karts and at the end will have 120 different karts.
Throughout the year the game will change with certain themes during holidays and seasons. For example, the frames that are around the pictures of the players will be a Santa Clause hat for Christmas.
Some of those new characters will include Metal Mario, Rosalina and Daisy as shown below. They also may add a 2vs2 Team mode with these updates although with a planned 5 year lifespan they could do that and more. At the moment cross-site play is not mentioned at all; I imagine that it could be in the cards if enough units were connected out there although I am sure that the main focus is local connected play, which it tends to be with Namco’s other driving games.
A lot of people have been asking about the price and I’m not sure of that yet although I imagine it will be close to Mario Kart GP1 and GP2 (which were around $9000). Perhaps that info will finally be made available at the Expo. I do like that there is a lot of content in this – it’s quite a bit more than with their Dead Heat or Dead Heat Riders games and its also about time that we had more online capabilities coming along from more than a couple of manufacturers. That said, the email mentions that operators need to purchase some extra hardware to connect to Namco’s servers, thus increasing the cost of any package further. But like the unit price, the price of these specialized items is not mentioned, only hinted at as being much higher than a typical router you might find on Newegg.com. I’m not sure what to think about that yet as all of the other online arcade games I have bought have been ready from the get-go and can use the existing wired/wireless connection hardware. It is probably best to wait for more details on that, which I will ask about at Amusement Expo tomorrow.
Also the documentation notes that this is the “International Version” so all of this should apply to the US or Europe. As mentioned, this game will be available for wide release in
April June 2014 and it is an arcade exclusive title, like Mario Kart Arcade GP1 & GP2 before it.