WMMT5 International & 5DX Japan Version Differences Explained

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Disclaimer: The reasons and motives I will lay out for Bandai Namco’s business decisions are purely my own opinion and speculative in nature. Zero ill will is directed at them and the development team, quite the opposite actually.

WMMT5DX Attract

Thanks to Jake G for the images!

There’s quite a bit of confusion surrounding exactly what separates WMMT5 international and 5DX Japanese game versions. I thought it would be a good idea to make a post detailing every difference currently in the leadup to the international release of 5DX, and explaining why exactly this is the case in my opinion as someone who closely follows all versions of these games.

So why does Japan have so much more content than the international versions? Why do screenshots of 5DX keep popping up with content you had no idea existed? Why does their version look better? Load faster? 

There isn’t a huge amount of specific info regarding differences in the arcade hardware, but the biggest and most obvious difference is the hardware that the Japanese version of 5DX currently runs on, which then leads into why they happen to have all this extra content.

WMMT4 Rev 1.00 - 1.01

Source: http://www10.atwiki.jp/wanganmidnight/pages/1555.html

Maximum Tune 4 came out on December 15th, 2011 in Japan and ran on a custom Namco arcade system called “System ES1“.

System ES1 boots to a custom Linux Debian kernel and dual boots Windows Embedded 7 on top of that to run the game. This dual booting alongside the enhanced network support is what allowed Maximum Tune 4 to access the internet and support the banapass system. It was made to replace the now ancient Namco System N2 hardware that WMMT3 – WMMT3DX+ ran on.

When you look at the update notes for the Japanese version of WMMT4, there wasn’t a huge amount of content updates, but many bug fixes. System ES1 had been used in arcades as early as 2009, so there was pressure also for Bandai Namco to update to one of the later revisions of System ES1 so as to not breach the limitations of the hardware in regards to content, functionality, and performance.

WMMT4 Launch Galactic Circus Melbourne 22-1-2013

WMMT4 Launch Galactic Circus Melbourne 22-1-2013 (Thanks to Jake G for the photo!)

WMMT4 International version came at the very start of 2013 in January at least in Australia. We started on revision 1.01 much like Japan did, but looking at our update history suggests that the Japanese servers got more frequent revisions for bug fixes, and the international version got only 4 updates including the final 1.10 update, but each revision combined bug fixes and content updates into one. So essentially our version of WMMT4 was at parity with the Japanese version by the end of WMMT4’s lifecycle.

This is where it starts to get complicated. Not only did the development team have to distribute all the WMMT4 hardware and software to the International community, they also had to deal with the impending upgrade to System ES3 to expand the online features and content of WMMT when it came time to release WMMT5 in Japan.

Namco Umeda WMMT5 Beta Location Test Japan

Source: http://www10.atwiki.jp/wanganmidnight/pages/1571.html

This is why WMMT5 location tests in Japan started as early as 2013 and WMMT4 was shelved after barely 3 years of operation. WMMT5 was released early to test out System ES3 and the expanded features that came with it. The location tests started on October 19th, 2013 and lasted for 20 days until November 8th, 2013. The tests were held at the following locations:

Tokyo Leisureland, Akihabara
Round One, Yokohama Station
Namco Umeda (pictured above)

The version of WMMT5 played at these location tests was limited in terms of content and function. Below is a list of things observed during the location test, translated from the WMMT Japanese Wiki.

-200 yen per game. Cannot continue under any circumstances.
-In accordance with the yellow theme of WMMT5, The LED lights in the signage and cabinet housing and seats are yellow by default..
-If you use a current Banapass, the car you choose is full tuned, C4 rank with no dress up. If no Banapass is used, the car is stock.
– Story mode, ghost mode, and time attack are all playable. If no Banapass is used, ghost battle is unavailable.
Continued…
-Existing cars have been rebalanced
Improvement in load times (loading screen for VS battle ends in about 3 seconds)

The most important thing here is bolded. The better loading times seen in the WMMT5 test location demo is a direct result of the System ES3 upgrade being trialled.

Since its a hardware upgrade, its much easier and faster to distribute the upgrades to arcades domestically in Japan, which is why Japan got it first. Bandai Namco had no such luxury when considering the vast international market.

WMMT4 Rev 1.10 five stars

Source: http://www10.atwiki.jp/wanganmidnight/pages/1555.html

By the end of the location test, we were on WMMT4 version 1.04 which was released on the 24th of October, 2013. The same day, Japan received the final update for WMMT4 which was version 1.10. We recieved the content from this update in update 1.09 on the 25th of June, 2014, but we weren’t officially on 1.10 until the 5th of August, 2014.

The Japanese version of WMMT5 was officially released on the 12th of March, 2014. After a short location test in Hong Kong in September 2014, the International version of WMMT5 was released on the 27th of October, 2014.

This is where the two versions were officially split up. The Japanese version of WMMT5 was running System ES3, and our version of WMMT5 was and still is currently running on System ES1. Because of this major difference in hardware, we were given an alternate version with limited content to satiate the international market for the time being. This is even referenced in the first English WMMT5 Future Lab written by series producer Kazuhiro Maeda:

“New cars and courses have also been added.
But that’s not all!
Some models differ from the Japanese specifications.
This has even managed to surprise Japanese players.
Up until now, the International Versions have always followed the Japanese specifications which means that the updates offered no surprises.
That’s why this time the Japanese and International versions are planned to differ in the order and what appears in each specification.
That said,
I hope you’ll check the updates of both the International and Japanese Versions and look forward to what might be coming in future updates.”

This confirms that our version was planned to be different from the Japanese version. In the third Future Lab news post, lead programmer Takeshi Ono references the development of WMMT5 International and Japanese version.

“Hi, everyone. Ono here.
It’s great that Wangan Maximum 5 is finally out.
I’m happy to say that this time we developed both versions simultaneously so fans outside of Japan could get the game as soon as possible. We all worked together so this could happen.”

The bolded and underlined text is the most important. Timing was very important. Bandai Namco had to plan around the roadblocks when it came to distributing new content to the international community so that we weren’t left in the dark with a seemingly outdated version.This is why we were given the Mount Taikan course before the Japanese, and exclusive european cars that they wouldn’t get until the release of 5DX.

The bottom line is that the current hardware differences and the difficulty of servicing the international community basically forced Bandai Namco to makes these changes. We are incredibly lucky as a community for Bandai Namco and the development team to continue bringing us content. The good news? WMMT5DX international version is coming very soon.

This video by Sam P of WMMT North American Community seems to suggest that WMMT5DX is coming to international sometime this year according to a conversation he had with a representative. This flew under the radar for over a month until the images below started popping up on Facebook.
WMMT5DX International Upgrade WMMT5DX International Upgrade WMMT5DX International UpgradeThe source of these images is unknown, but the quantity of the update packages seem to suggest a large scale hardware update coming soon. I’ve heard rumours regarding the release date being around June or July 2016, but it’s likely that the update will be staggered and may come out sooner or later depending on your region.

So what exactly is different about WMMT5DX currently? I’ll be writing a separate article to show and explain all the differences currently since this article is massive already. I would like to thank everyone who helped me and continue to help me gather resources and research.

WMMT5DX Launches In Japan – Harbor Road Footage

Screenshot WMMT5DX Kobe Tower Kawasaki World HANSHIN EXPRESSWAY NO.3 HARBOR ROAD
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WMMT5DX is now live in Japan and videos of the new content have started to surface, most notably the new course, Harbor Road No.3.

You might remember back in October I tried to map out certain parts of the new course based on two teaser images. It turns out I was pretty accurate as many of the places I pointed out on Google Maps actually appear in Harbor Road No.3.

The video above is a guest run of the time attack course. It’s unknown at the moment if there are several starting points for battle, but the course is 19.1km in length for a full circuit, making it the third longest single time attack course without counting Metro Tokyo and Kanagawa circuit.

There are no branching paths, but the course itself is very twisty and has abrupt changes in width with obstacles such as bridge dividers and tollbooths. I would guess this map would be best run at 720hp due to the shortness of the straightaways, and the abundance of technical sections resulting in a lower speed range overall.

I’m very excited to hopefully see this course sometime in the International version of WMMT5DX, which at the moment does not have a release date. What do you think about the new course?

Update: A Japanese time attacker has uploaded a video of a very solid Harbor Road No.3 run at 700hp with a time of 4:11.156 .The setting doesn’t surprise me too much considering the technical nature of the course. It will be interesting to see how quickly that time will fall. 4 minutes for a time attack is a longer time than usual for most courses. Will update if a better video becomes available.

Update 2: Current record on the new Japanese time attack ranking is 4:07.635 with an EVO8. Knowing that, I expect the time to fall even further.

International WMMT5 Hakone Extreme December Update – WMMT5DX Japan Release Date

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The December update for the International version of WMMT5 adds Hakone Extreme and launches on December 10th, 2015. Hakone Extreme WMMT5The update according to the official English website only seems to add Hakone Extreme to the lineup of extreme courses.
Hakone Extreme WMMT5 2Unlike every other extreme course to come before it, Hakone Extreme is actually a mirrored version of inbound and outbound, since they share the same road. So all left corners are right corners, and vice versa.

Although there’s no traffic, its bound to feel like a completely different course when mirrored. The Japanese version of the game has had Hakone Extreme for quite some time, but its good to see us still getting updates before the next major update to come with WMMT5DX.
WMMT5DX Japan Release Date
Speaking of WMMT5DX, the Japanese version release date has been announced on the Official teaser website. WMMT5DX will launch in Japan on December 15th, 2015! There is no current information about the International release of WMMT5DX, but if the release of the older games was anything to go by, we may be in for a 5 or 6 month wait.

Its really hard to tell since we got WMMT5 not long after the Japanese version was released, but our version is very different from the Japanese version, and has been since WMMT4. We will have to wait and see what updates the international version will receive, and what WMMT5DX will change.

WMMT5DX Cabinet Pictures & Site Updates

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Today we were surprised by a Facebook post from WMMT Series Producer Kazuhiro Maeda, showing off a twin set of WMMT5DX machines along with a terminal and a short message.
WMMT5DX Japanese Cabinet First Look

“もうすぐです! “Coming soon!
お楽しみに!!” “Look forward to it!!”

I gotta say, the logo redesign along with the purple (pink?) colour scheme looks fantastic. I doubt that all of the arcades serving International version WMMT will get the upgraded signage, since as far as we know it’s just a software update and every dollar counts in the dying arcade business. It should also be mentioned that this machine is a prototype, and may not actually resemble the final product. Also confirmed by Maeda himself, renaming your cards is not possible, only a mass transfer of your existing save data.

This news however raises a bigger discussion regarding the state of the international versions of the game. There’s obviously large differences between international and Japan versions. We were served a fairly different version of WMMT5 and to a lesser extent WMMT4 in both content and graphical style.

I think a lot of the disparity between the versions is mostly due to the difficulty of deploying new software on an international scale, compared to a single country. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts about how difficult it is for a small dev team to keep track of different software versions, especially in the arcade. It would be a bigger problem if the hardware was different, which as far as I know, it isn’t. So the upgrade to 5DX and hopefully catching up with the Japanese version will simply be a software update. We can only hope and wait.

Just as a small footnote, I just wanted to apologise for the lack of site updates. I’ve been really busy at the end of the year with other commitments. I’ll be updating the site and making more video content once I’m past all of that. Thanks so much everyone who continues to watch and read our content, we are very grateful!

WMMT5DX New Course Info: Hanshin Expressway No.3 Harbor Road

New DX splash WMMT5DX
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The Japanese teaser site for the upcoming WMMT5DX was updated today to show off a nice logo redesign, and two screenshots of an upcoming course; “Hanshin Expressway No.3 Harbor Road”.

Don’t be fooled by the name, this is not an extension of the current Hanshin Expressway in the heart of Osaka. This new course is roughly 30km away, and runs through to Kobe Port in the Hyogo prefecture.

Using the 2 screenshots on the teaser site I was able to locate the stretch of highway that the new course would be based on.
Screenshot WMMT5DX Kobe Tower Kawasaki World
The first one was pretty simple to find due to the well known Kobe landmarks shown in the screenshot.
Kobe Tower near Hamate Bypass
This highway is ‘Hamate Bypass‘ that runs alongside Kobe Port which features Kobe Tower, Kawasaki world, Kobe Harbor Land Ferris Wheel in the background, and well known hotels. On the right hand side of the screenshot we get a small look at what looks to be a giant fish with scales. Although obscured in the screenshot, this is actually ‘Cafe Fish!’ A harborside seafood restaurant.
Screenshot WMMT5DX Kobe Bridge
The second screenshot was a little harder due to a lack of landmarks.
Kobe Ohashi Bridge Screenshot Streetview
This is Kobe Ohashi Bridge that runs over Osaka Bay and the Ishiyagawa estuary about 6 kilometres away from the first screenshot. It’s on the same connected highway before reaching the bypass.
Harbour Road 3This road is called Kowan Kansen road or Harbor Road, which is the stretch of toll road that links Kobe Port and surrounding areas to the Hanshin Expressway No.3 toll road that runs alongside it.
Ground Level Offramp
A bit further up from the Hamate Bypass screenshot, we are lead to an offramp and drive on ground level. There are very few times in WMMT that you drive anywhere near ground level, so this is pretty interesting.
Osaka Kobe Tollbooth Killspot
A few kilometres ahead of Kobe Ohashi Bridge we get to this nightmare of a tollbooth right at the exit of a corner! If this makes it into the final course, this will be an absolutely prime kill spot for ramming.
Plotted Path Kobe Facing North
For your reference, here is an overhead map with the points of interest I’ve covered below. The entire stretch of Harbor Highway is about 10.8km.
New DX splash WMMT5DX
While not exactly the same as the real road, it’s fairly true to life. The developers have always changed small parts of a map to make it more visually interesting and more challenging to drive. According to the teaser site, there is still one more update on WMMT5DX to be posted. I wonder what they’ll reveal next?

Thanks for reading!