On Friday, Nintendo and Universal Studios Japan took the veil off a years-in-the-making project: the very first Nintendo-themed theme park, appropriately named Super Nintendo World. And who better to introduce the world to this life-sized walk through all things Mario than the character’s creator himself, longtime Nintendo developer and designer Shigeru Miyamoto.
The 15-minute video, embedded at the end of this article, revolved largely around the park’s introductory moments, which are full of Super Mario melodies and interactive elements. Many of the park’s decorations and objects can be interacted with by park visitors who wear a special wristband, dubbed the Power-Up Band, which includes an Amiibo-like NFC chip. Press its sensor near park objects like a Super Mario coin block, and a new virtual item will appear in a synced Super Nintendo World app on your smartphone. Exactly how these virtual items will affect your visit to Super Nintendo World remains unclear, but Miyamoto-san hinted to surprising attractions and hidden interactable panels for park visitors to discover in person. (Additionally, those Power-Up Bands will double as Amiibo for compatible hardware, like Nintendo Switch.)
Only one “ride” received a showcase in the video, albeit a brief one: a Mario Kart race against Bowser. It’s hosted inside a replica of Bowser’s castle, and visitors will sit in one of a series of Mario-styled go-karts that appear to be linked on a rollercoaster-like track, as opposed to freely controllable. Exactly what visitors will see on that ride remains unclear, but previous news about the ride’s augmented reality (AR) elements was reinforced with the first official look at the park’s AR glasses, which come attached to a Super Mario hat.
Unsurprisingly, the theme park will include a robust gift shop, which Miyamoto-san confirms will include exclusive Nintendo merchandise—particularly a robust Super Mario toy whose legs articulate in a walking motion with no batteries needed, just the push of a hand. (It’s easy to forget that Nintendo’s history as a game publisher was preceded by an incredible variety of cleverly designed toys, largely thanks to former Nintendo designer Gunpei Yokoi, who eventually masterminded the first Game Boy.)
Miyamoto-san also walked viewers through one of the park’s restaurants, which is Toad themed and includes “windows” into its kitchen (though these are just high-res LCD panels with pre-rendered CGI animations of Toad characters making food). A few of the park’s food options were shown off, and anyone who’s been to a themed Japanese café knows that the nation takes its quirkily designed food very seriously—which is immediately apparent in the weird-looking food shown off in today’s video.
However, today’s video didn’t reveal any other branded experiences at Super Nintendo World, particularly ones that are reported to revolve around the famed Nintendo character Donkey Kong or the previously teased Yoshi’s Adventure ride. We’ll apparently have to wait until the park opens in Japan on February 4, 2021, to see if non-Mario content will be open to the public during its launch window—and even longer for the Nintendo-themed park to get launches at Universal Studios’ locations in Orlando, Los Angeles, and Singapore. (Unsurprisingly, today’s reveal included multiple warnings about COVID protocols for the Japanese launch.)
Though I was eager to highlight the video’s details in gallery form, any Nintendo fan worth their salt owes it to themselves to watch Miyamoto-san giddily introduce everything in this park. I personally cannot remember the last time I saw the man this excited by a project, and based on what’s been shown so far, I do not blame him.
Listing image by Nintendo / Universal Studios Japan