Numerous delays only made us want to see it more, and now, it’s finally here: Super Nintendo World finally opened at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka last March 18.
The much-anticipated theme park, which cost around half a billion to build, was supposed to open to guests last year ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics but was postponed due to the pandemic. The opening was then moved to February, but had to be rescheduled again after Osaka declared a state of emergency due to a surge of COVID-19 cases.
But by the looks of it, the wait was well worth it. Riddled with Question Blocks you can punch, Warp Pipes you can go through, and Piranha Plants that loom after you, Super Nintendo World is every Mario gamer’s greatest fantasy!
Before you can explore Mario’s turf, you’d want to buy a Power-Up Band at the kiosk by the entrance first. When registered with the official Universal Studios Japan mobile app, the wristband will log stamps you get for completing certain courses around the park, as well as record all virtual coins that you earn from “bumping” Question Blocks.
As a bonus, you can also use your Power-Up Band as an Amiibo with Nintendo Switch games within the Mario series!
Several areas within the park resemble the territory of all the terrible but memorable enemies in the Mario series.
There’s the Bob-omb Kaboom Room, where a giant Bob-omb “explodes” to “make you smaller” inside an increasingly growing route. As you continue to shrink, your task is to find the mushroom somewhere in the underground maze to grow again.
There’s also the Piranha Plant Nap Mishap. Upon entering, a series of alarm clocks will awaken Petey Piranha, the age-old guardian of the warp pipes who intimidates your team from above. It becomes a race against time as your team tries to switch off all the clocks just in time.
Another attraction that’s bound to be an instant classic inside Super Nintendo World is the Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge. The Rainbow Road is real, but you won’t actually get to race around the track. Instead, you will compete with friends through augmented reality.
Through high-tech AR headbands, animated versions of players get to steer their Kart around the Rainbow Road, collect shells, and hit their friends to beat them to the finish line. You will also be up against the AI-controlled Team Bowser, from whom you can win a key to access the final room.
Take a peek at how the AR-driven Mario Kart race goes down:
If you’ve beaten Bob-Omb, Petey Piranha, and Team Bowser, prepare to go toe-to-toe with the best (or worst) of them: the King Koopa himself inside the Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown.
Just like the game’s final boss battle, players must repel Bowser’s attacks through a motion-controlled projection-mapping system that transforms your real-life motion into virtual strikes.
Aside from the action-packed attractions, there are other Super Mario-inspired sections where you can relax, spend your well-earned coins, and grab a bite, Super Mario-style.
Over at Kinopio’s Café, Princess Toad’s loyal subject serves all the grub, including adorable mushroom-shaped pieces of bread.
If you prefer a more laidback way to explore the land, take a ride on the many multi-colored Yoshis through Yoshi’s Adventure Ride. Ride through the interactive park
Finally, brag to friends that you’ve been face-to-face with the game’s characters by buying wares from the One-Up Factory gift shop. Mario and Luigi’s signature caps and jumpers, Chain Chomp and King Boo masks, and Bowser shirts – you can deck yourself from head to toe with Super Mario stuff!
Even with all the exciting attractions it already has, Universal Studios Japan says the theme park is still designed to get bigger in the future. It makes sense though – if we are to call it Super Nintendo World, then we should expect other classic Nintendo characters to have their own region inside the gigantic park.
Until then, we have the magical world of Mario to fulfill our childhood gaming dreams. Once our country’s lockdown lets up, you’ll know where we’ll be.
(all images belong to Nintendo and Universal Studios Japan)