Could Muhammad Ali beat Mike Tyson? Would King Kong really trounce Godzilla? Answers to these crucial questions don't come easy. But come October gamers will be able to settle the debate about two legends when Pac-Man and Mario appear for the first time ever in one game.
On Monday, Nintendo and Namco, the companies behind the plumber and the dot eater, respectively, announced that the two gaming icons will appear together in "Mario Kart Arcade GP," a two-seater arcade racing game due in October. The arcade cabinets come equipped with chairs and steering wheels, and systems can be linked for four-player racing. No home version has been announced.
The game throws Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Blinky the ghost into races with Mario, Wario, Luigi and Princess Peach and five other classic characters. And if you're wondering how Pac-Man and his wife can drive, they have arms now. It was not clear at press time how Blinky gets the job done.
The "Mario Kart" series debuted in 1992, creating a subgenre of kart-racing games typified by an emphasis on weapon-based racing (cut the other guy off with a well-thrown turtle shell) and all-star casts. The first "Mario Kart" included Nintendo icons such as Donkey Kong, Luigi and Princess Peach. Subsequent games expanded the rosters, while competing companies have developed their own kart titles with lineups from series such as "Mega Man," "Crash Bandicoot" and, this fall, "Jak and Daxter."
Not only has the genre expanded in the last 13 years, so has the proclivity for game characters from different companies to crash the same game — though usually just to fight. "Mega Man" maker Capcom has pitted its roster against the characters from Neo-Geo maker SNK and sent its "Street Fighter" and "Resident Evil" heroes against the superheroes of Marvel Comics. Those Marvel heroes are now battling characters from "Madden" publisher Electronic Arts in this fall's "Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects."
In one of the more eclectic mixes, 2003's Japan-only "DreamMix TV" lets players fight it out with a lineup that includes Hudson gaming hero Bomberman, Konami's "Castlevania" protagonist, Simon Belmont, and the Transformers' Optimus Prime.
But even as more characters have gotten into the genre, Nintendo has kept its own rosters in the family. On Sunday, MTV News asked Mario and Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto about the possibility of creating games that bring even more classic characters into the mix, such as Sonic the Hedgehog (see "Nintendo Fans Swarm Mario's Father During New York Visit"). Miyamoto said that the friendships between himself and other designers might make such an idea a reality, though he's more focused on original game ideas.
"I would have to say that while I personally am not interested in making that [type of] game, I would definitely say there's a possibility of a game like that coming out in the future, much greater than there was in the past," he said via a translator.