This is my review from my Arcade Information page. It's my second review from the page, and my first video game arcade review.
Being such a big Mario Kart fan, I've been dying to play this game ever since it was announced. Imagine my surprise when a visit to my local Time-Out at the Arnot Mall in Horseheads, NY turned up this game. Now, imagine my surprise when I learned that it wasn't as fun of an experience as I thought it would be.
Don't get me wrong, the gameplay is fun and the steering wheel is awesome. As a matter of fact, the steering wheel is so tight and precise in this game that I will find it hard to go back to analog thumbstick control for the console versions. The major problem that I have with this game is that it requires you to insert quarters after you win each race. On the machine that I played, the quarter requirements were set very high. After the first race, you have to insert two coins. For each additional race, you have to insert one coin. After With a game that has multiple courses in multiple divisions, this is ludicrous. Each track has 5 laps, and the game will go by so quickly that when it comes time to insert more quarters, you will hardly feel that the experience is worth it.
The game is laid out like its console cousins, with certain tracks unavailable until you complete the tracks before it. Also, like the console games before it, as you advance to higher engine classes, your opponents become more challenging as well. However, unlike the console games, this game reduces the difficulty factor with a system called the "rubber band system". With this system, the players in the back of the pack move faster, and the players in the front of the pack move slower. For any seasoned player, this makes the game nauseatingly easy. I am not sure if this feature is enabled by dipswitches on the board, or if it is standard with the game, but either way it should be selectable by the player via an on-screen option. It's a shame that this was included, as the game is otherwise very competent gameplay-wise.
The addition of Namco characters Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Blinky, are mostly cosmetic, as they don't control much differently than the Nintendo characters. Though, I'll have to admit that it is kind of humourous seeing Pac-Man's big yellow head in a tiny go-cart. The Nam-Cam takes a picture of you and superimposes a Mario cap over your head so that your player is identifiable during multiplayer gameplay. Again, this feature is also mostly cosmetic, but as with the addition of Pac-Man characters, it's humour is undeniable.
If you can find a machine that has lower coin requirements, the game is worth playing. On machines that have the quarter requirements I encountered, I wouldn't recommend a long gameplay session with Mario Kart GP. Either way, it's worth a few quarters just to experience how fun Mario Kart is with the awesome steering wheel included in the cabinet. I just wouldn't spend more than a couple dollars worth of credits in doing so.