Nintendo’s theme park is finally open. After years of development and delays, Super Nintendo World finally opened this week at Universal Studios Japan (USJ) in Osaka. The themed area of the park is Nintendo’s biggest swing yet to leverage its most iconic characters beyond their traditional home of video game consoles.
The idea sounds strong and fascinating on paper. USJ is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Asia, and Universal has experience in the field.
Having launched the conceptually similar Wizarding World of Harry Potter-themed areas at three of its parks, including Osaka. What could go wrong?
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Well, a global coronavirus pandemic, for one thing. The park is launching under less than ideal circumstances; Officials originally planned to open ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which was also delayed to this year.
Super Nintendo World follows the blueprint set by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In that, it has housed within the larger theme park but feels entirely separate. Both areas have situated at the end of long entrance paths. Besides, you generally can’t see the rest of the park when you’re inside. Still, a day out at Super Nintendo World starts out feeling like a regular day at USJ.
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Entry to Super Nintendo World theoretically covered by a regular USJ one-day ticket, which costs 7,800 yen (about $70) on weekdays or 8,400 yen (about $75) on weekends. I say “theoretically” because once you are inside, you’ll need to use the USJ app to secure yourself timed entry to Super Nintendo World, and space is extremely limited. If you don’t get one, you’ll have to hope you get lucky with a standby lottery for spaces that didn’t end up getting taken.
Let’s uncover the adventurous route.
As a matter of fact, you will expect, park to also heavily decked out in Nintendo promotion. The gift stores are stacked with Mario and Luigi merchandise, and there’s a new cafe where you can get themed drinks and snacks.
Super Nintendo World itself is located down a fairly nondescript path that you could easily miss if not for the green pipes and 1UP blocks along the way.
The first thing you’ll want to do inside Super Nintendo World is pick up a Power Up Band
The band is like a chunky smartwatch that snaps around your wrist with an adjustable metal clasp.
There are also stamps and awards available based on your performance in the attractions, the most elaborate of which is Mario Kart.
The Mario Kart ride is the most ambitious attraction I’ve ever seen at a theme park. It’s essentially an AR action game set on a go-kart track, where you’re drifting through the virtual course and firing virtual shells at virtual opponents. As the kart moves through the track in real life. The field of view is pretty good
There’s just a lot going on with the Mario Kart ride. It doesn’t move very fast, but it feels like it does because the track is often a completely seamless experience.
It’s also designed to get better in the future, rather than some theme park attractions that soon find themselves technically obsolete.
You can definitely see that the Mario Kart ride is pushing at the limits of what’s possible with technology.
“At the very end of the project, Miyamoto-san shared that we had made his dreams come true,” adds Geraghty. “Which was just a lifetime high moment for me.”
The Bottom Line
Super Nintendo World also has a lot of gift shops with exclusive merchandise as well as food vendors with Mario-themed fare. Here is my Power Mushroom Pizza Bowl, which was pretty good.
One thing you won’t find on sale at Super Nintendo World — or at least I didn’t — is traditional Nintendo products like the Switch or its software.
Nintendo’s biggest achievement with Super Nintendo World is the way it gamifies the theme park experience. With Super Nintendo World, though, I already feel the need to go back. I’m hoping it won’t be too long before my Yoshi band gets another workout.
Above all, what do you think about this theme park? Are you planning to explore it? Let us know in the comments, or feel free to reach out and hit me up directly over on Twitter at @9to5game to talk about all things gaming.