Universal Japan Unveils Gamified Super Nintendo World Featuring Mario

Opening this summer, the Mario area at Universal includes a ride, games linked to a wristband and app, and life-sized replicas of setpieces.

Theme parks have leveled up in recent years, and Universal Studios refuses to get left behind. So, after years of rumors and slow, quiet confirmations, Super Nintendo World is almost set to go in Japan. The new region at Universal Studios Japan focuses on Mario and friends, with plenty to do for Nintendo fans.

At a press event, recorded and shared to Nintendo and theme park press outlets, the Chief Creative Officer and Senior Vice President of Universal Creative, Thierry Coup, unveiled the first major details of Super Nintendo World.  The area will mainly feature replicas of major Mario franchise settings: those mentioned were Mushroom Kingdom, Peach’s Castle, and Bowser’s Fortress.

Universal has also made plenty of mentions of Mario Kart. Coup even mentions it in the presentation! Meanwhile, curious theme park enthusiasts, bloggers and vloggers have dug into the potential of a Mario Kart ride. However, we don’t actually have any word on what it’ll look like. By now, we usually have some hint of what the ride technology will seem like — but with most “rumor hunter” blogs based in America and not Japan, the construction’s progress manages to keep air-tight.

But it’s not just the visual spectacle that will bring fans into this Mario area at Universal. The park encourages customers to get a wristband called the “Power Up Band” that allows them to interact with the park’s features and play games. Plus, the band links up with a unique smartphone app for the park’s area. Players can keep track of what they’ve done and how many “coins” they’ve earned, as well as see what else there is to interact with.

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Universal’s parks are absolutely no stranger to immersive experiences. Aside from rides, they’ve had themed interactions for a quite a while. Their oldest highlight is the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, which features educational segments on dinosaurs, just like the movies. There are also regular “egg hatchings,” as well as small dino interactions.

Most are familiar with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, though. The areas feature small spots for Interactive Wands, which allow parkgoers to “cast spells.” When standing on a certain spot, the user moves the wand in a certain motion, like, well, casting spells. Done right, it causes a nearby object to do something: lights turn on, rain starts falling, or a window display moves. While the wand costs money, it’s a nifty trick for anyone looking to experience the areas in full.

It looks like Universal Studios is looking to keep that interactivity trend up with the new Mario world. And obviously, what’s a better way to gamify one’s experience than, you know, video games? Universal seems to get this area open by this summer, right before the Olympic Games take place in Tokyo. (Other locations are set to open up in other regions in coming years.) Hopefully, this Mario world doesn’t need any day-one patches.

Oh, and by the way, here’s a genuine bop they commissioned by EDM duo Galantis and pop superstar Charli XCX.  The video itself is… something else. But for what it is, the song is cute! And Charli XCX is up there having a great time with Toad!

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Victoria Rose

Victoria is a Brooklyn-based, chaotic-good former dungeon master and a Contributor-At-Large for Fanbyte. She's a self-proclaimed esports pundit, and used to do Dota 2 news and reporting as a full-time part-time gig. She's also four red pandas stacked in a hoodie. [she/her/hers or they/their/theirs]

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