Mario Kart coming to Japanese arcades

Namco will bring new version of Nintendo's racer to the Triforce arcade system this fall; will feature Pac-Man.

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TOKYO--After a two-decade absence, Mario is returning to his arcade stomping grounds--and he's bringing Pac-Man with him. At the Amusement Operators' Union (AOU) show, taking place February 18 and 19 in Japan, Nintendo revealed that an arcade version of Mario Kart, called Mario Kart: Arcade GP, is slated for release this fall in Japan.

Visitors to Namco's booth could play a demo of the game, which showed Pac-Man racing alongside Mario. Namco is developing Mario Kart: Arcade GP for the Triforce arcade system, which was developed by Namco, Sega, and Nintendo in 2002 and is based on the GameCube's architecture.

Crowds gathered to see what Mario Kart: Arcade GP looked like and to listen to a video message from Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto. "The Mario Kart series has been enjoyed by a much wider age range than we had originally anticipated," Miyamoto said in the address. "It's a racing game, but it plays a lot like a party game... I was worried about how Mario Kart: Arcade GP would turn out [since it's based on a home console game], but it's very well balanced for the arcades."

Miyamoto addressed some of the ways in which Mario Kart was adapted for arcade gameplay. "Players take their time [and play over and over] when they're enjoying Mario Kart at home, but it's different for arcade games, and it's not ideal for anyone to be seriously lagging behind. The Mario Kart series features an item system so that players can catch up by using them when they're trailing behind, but with the new rubber-band system that Namco implemented [in Mario Kart Arcade GP], the races become a really close-pitched match," he said.

The Nintendo pioneer added that he is honored to have Namco's Pac-Man as a guest in the game. "Having the two companies' characters appear together is really something that makes us take a look back at the history of the video game business. It's the first time since in a long while that Mario will appear in an arcade game. I'm happy that it's happening together with Namco [characters] on the Triforce."

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