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Nintendo and Namco unveil arcade Mario Kart title

Nintendo has unveiled a new Mario Kart game in Japan - but anybody expecting to get a closer look at Mario Kart DS or hear about a new GameCube game may be slightly confused when they learn what the company has in store.

The new Mario Kart is an arcade title developed by Namco using Triforce - the arcade system designed by Namco, SEGA and Nintendo and based on Cube architecture - and is due out in Japan this autumn. However there's no word on any plan to convert the game for release on the Cube ala F-Zero GX, which was also developed by Namco on Triforce arcade technology.

Instead, Mario Kart: Arcade GP, as it's known, appears to be something of a one-off, and in a video address at the Amusement Operators' Union show in Japan last Friday and Saturday, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto spoke of how it had been tailored to the arcade experience.

"I was worried about how Mario Kart: Arcade GP would turn out," he first admitted, "but it's very well balanced for the arcades."

"Players take their time 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, the races become a really close-pitched match."

How that "rubber-band system" will work remains to be seen, but we did learn of a couple of other features that will help Arcade GP stand out from previous titles. For a start, there will be "more than 100" items throughout the game.

Up to four players will be able to go head-to-head, choosing from a roster of eight Nintendo characters and Namco has also been given leave to incorporate Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and a red Pac-Man ghost (Akabe) as characters. "Having the two companies' characters appear together is really something that makes us take a look back at the history of the videogame business," Miyamoto-san commented.

The Nintendo line-up consists of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Koopa, Yoshi, Donkey Kong and Pinokio. "It's the first time in a long while that Mario will appear in an arcade game. I'm happy that it's happening together with Namco on the Triforce," Miyamoto-san added.

It would also appear, based on shots of the arcade unit, that the system photographs the player with a Mario hat and moustache (or props from the other characters, as appropriate) overlaid and uses that face to show who's who in-game.

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Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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