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Take a Sneak Peek at Japan's New Super Nintendo Theme Park and Its 'Mario Kart' Ride

Super Nintendo World opens at Universal Studios in Osaka in February 2021.
By Sarah Ward
December 22, 2020
By Sarah Ward
December 22, 2020

When Super Mario Kart first rolled onto Super Nintendo consoles back in 1992, it came with 20 inventive courses and endless hours of fun. Nearly three decades later, the game has become a beloved phenomenon — not just speeding through desert tracks and rainbow roads, but onto Google Maps and mobile phones, and also into reality. The hugely popular game's next stop? Theme parks.

Come Thursday, February 4, 2021, you'll be able to enjoy a real-life Mario Kart experience as part of the first-ever Super Nintendo World. Initially announced back in 2017, the new site is joining Universal Studios in Osaka. Its launch was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic but, after revealing back in October that it'd open early in the new year, the fresh addition to the theme park has an official date.

Actually, Universal Studios Japan has done more than lock in an exact date. It has dropped a heap of new details — and a couple of sneak peeks, too. The fact that there'd be Mario Kart and Yoshi-themed rides isn't new news; however, until now, only a few clues about what they'd entail had been released.

For those keen to hop on Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge, prepare to race through familiar Mario Kart courses that've been recreated in real life. And yes, as you're steering your way along the track, you'll be surrounded by characters such as Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. You'll also be able to throw shells to take out your opponents — because it wouldn't be Mario Kart without them. If you're wondering how it all works, expect physical sets, plus augmented reality, projection mapping and screen projection, all designed to make you feel like you're really in the game.

As for Yoshi's Adventure, it'll see you climb on Yoshi's back — and it's designed to be family-friendly. So, you'll hop on, then set off on an adventure. You'll follow Captain Toad to find three coloured eggs, plus a golden egg as well.

Taking over multiple levels — fitting for a gaming-themed space — Osaka's Super Nintendo World will also feature Bowser's Castle, complete with spiked fences and heavy iron doors. Peach's Castle is part of the park, too, as are other rides, restaurants and shops. A certain highlight: the world's first Mario cafe, which has already launched ahead of the rest of the site. Here, patrons are surrounded by oversized Mario and Luigi hat sculptures, the whole space is kitted out with a red and green colour scheme, and Mario Kart-style checkered floors are a feature. As for snacks, there are Mario pancake sandwiches and cream sodas, plus other drinks available in 'super mushroom' souvenir bottles.

The theme park is also introducing wearable wrist bands, called Power Up Bands — which connect to a special app and allow patrons to interact with the site using their arms, hands and bodies. That mightn't sound all that exciting, but the bands will enable you to collect coins just like Mario does in the Super Mario games. Like the red-capped plumber, you'll also be able to hit question blocks to do reveal more coins. And there'll be collectible items to gather, such as keys and character stamps, which you'll find after achieving various goals. The stamps will also earn you even more coins — so you really will be basically playing Super Mario in real life. You will have to buy a Power Up Band separate to your entry ticket to enjoy that element of the park, though.

If you're keen to take a look, Nintendo has released two videos that take you through Super Nintendo World — one brief, and the other running for 15 minutes. The latter is hosted by 'Mario's dad', aka Shigeru Miyamoto, the video game designer who created Super Mario Bros all those years ago. It provides a detailed walkthrough, so you'll spy everything from huge piranha plants to giant bob-ombs, all with Miyamoto's commentary .

You can check out both videos below — and yes, the music will sound very familiar:

Nods to other Nintendo games are expected to pop up around the park but, for now, all other specifics remain sparse. Given that Nintendo's game stable includes everything from Donkey Kong to Tetris and The Legend of Zelda, there's plenty more to play with. Our suggestions: real-life Tetris, where you move bricks around in person, or a Donkey Kong water ride that uses the game's iconic aquatic music.

While no one is travelling far at present, Universal Studios is also planning Super Nintendo Worlds for its other parks in Hollywood, Orlando and in Singapore — if you need to add more places to your must-visit list when international tourism starts returning to normal. The latter was just announced last year, and is set to open by 2025.

Super Nintendo World is slated to open at Universal Studios Osaka on Thursday, February 4.

Published on December 22, 2020 by Sarah Ward
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