After years des development and delays, super Nintendo welt finally opened this week at global Studios japan (USJ) in Osaka. Die themed area des the park is Nintendo’s biggest swing yet kommen sie leverage its most iconic characters past their timeless home des video video game consoles.

The idea sounds strong on paper. USJ zu sein one of the greatest tourist attractions an Asia, und Universal has experience bei the field, having actually launched ns conceptually comparable Wizarding welt of sich kümmern Potter themed areas punkt three von its parks, consisting of Osaka. What can go wrong?

Well, a global covid pandemic, for one thing. Die park ist launching under much less than ideal circumstances; it was originally plan to open ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, i beg your pardon were deshalb delayed to this year. Und even bei more normal times, this would be neu ground zum Nintendo. That is game entwurf credentials room unimpeachable, but an many ways it’s quite a conservative company, and theme park attractions are notfall exactly bei its wheelhouse.

Du schaust: Super nintendo super mario world

With that in mind, i headed down kommen sie Osaka for the opening day to seen exactly just how Nintendo and USJ would certainly pull this off. The short answer ist that they’ve succeeded. Supervisor Nintendo World ist a gleefully surreal endure that pushes surprising technical boundaries. Once travel beginning to open up again, it’s going kommen sie drive a vast number of visitors.


Super Nintendo world follows ns blueprint set von The Wizarding welt of harry Potter an that the housed within die larger theme park but feels totally separate. Both locations are situated hinweisen the end of lang entrance paths, and you typically can’t lakers the rest of the park when you’re inside. Still, a day out hinweisen Super Nintendo world starts the end feeling prefer a constant day punkt USJ.

It’s fair to question ns wisdom of opening a theme park at all ideal now, allow alone a neu area that’d inevitably rise visitor interest. With borders on entry imposed and the reality that USJ and Super Nintendo welt are mainly outdoors, though, i didn’t feel favor this was unusually risky. While some adjacent Asian nations oase done better, japan has been hit much less hard by the pandemic than many Western countries without enforcing strictly lockdown restrictions. It goes there is no saying that everyone was wearing masks, though ich was surprised to lakers a designated “mask-free zone” with some spaced-out benches by the waterfront.

Entry to Super Nintendo World is theoretically covered über a regular USJ one-day ticket, which costs 7,800 yen (about $70) on weekdays or 8,400 yen (about $75) top top weekends. I say “theoretically” since once you inside, you will do it need kommen sie use the USJ app to secure yourself timed entry kommen sie Super Nintendo World, und space is extremely limited. If you don’t obtain one, you’ll oase to hope freundin get lucky v a standby lottery weil das spaces that didn’t ende up getting taken.

It zu sein possible zu guarantee entry with some des the express tickets that USJ sells online, i beg your pardon give you fast-pass access zu a few rides and also a booked time slot zum Super Nintendo World, however they tun können end up more 보다 doubling your pistole cost von entry. This zu sein the route ich went so as zu avoid a wasted arbeiten trip from Tokyo, yet it’s notfall going zu be practical zum most people who want kommen sie attend.

My supervisor Nintendo world slot was an the afternoon, dafür I eliminated time beforehand von exploring die rest von the park. Together you’d expect, it’s also heavily decked out in Nintendo promotion. The giftig stores room stacked with Mario und Luigi merchandise, und there’s a neu cafe where you kann sein get themed drinks and snacks.





Super Nintendo world itself ist located down a relatively nondescript path that you could easily fehlschlagen if not weil das the eco-friendly pipes and 1UP block along die way. It’s overshadowed von the Waterworld attraction, i m sorry doesn’t make for in auspicious start. At the end of die path, though, yes a huge sign und pipe to walk through, and that’s when you’re really in the park.

The experience von stepping through the pipe and into super Nintendo World ist honestly amazing. The architecture is so complete, and your view des it deswegen well-directed, the it really does feel like you stepped into another world. I love that the designers went zum a blocky, 2D-esque style zum much des the setting — it would schutz been easy zu go through something an ext conventional given that there are now a lot of 3D mario games, yet this approach zu sein much an ext evocative. Rather than attempt to replicate a particular mario game, the mashed-up style just screams “Nintendo.”

The zuerst thing you will do it want zu do within Super Nintendo World is pick hoch a energie Up Band. It expenses 3,200 yen (~$30) and you don’t strictly need it zum most of the attractions, however the park experience ist designed approximately it. The bands are available bei six varieties featuring various Nintendo personalities like Mario und Princess Peach. Ich went v Yoshi.

The band is like a chunky smartwatch the snaps around your wrist with an adjustable metal clasp. Freundin pair the to die Super Nintendo world section des the USJ app with a QR code published on the back, und from there the watch und app wollen track your progress through ns park. There room lots of stamps kommen sie collect zum completing details activities — often this involves interacting with the park itself directly, like über hitting a power-up block with the eis to collect coins. High-score leaderboards are displayed in the app and on touchscreens around die park; her “team” is decided von the style of band you chose.

I only gott 18 out of 170 stamps bei my admittedly fairly hurried time punkt Super Nintendo World, and the system is clearly designed kommen sie encourage repeat visits. For example, there space eight covert 8-bit sprites that show up on die walls when you activate a switch, but ns only one i found was Peach. Over there are deshalb stamps und awards available based on her performance bei the attractions, ns most elaborate des which zu sein Mario Kart.

The mario Kart ride ist the most ambitious attraction I’ve ever before seen at a layout park. That essentially an AR action game set on a go-kart track, where you’re drifting through die virtual course and firing virtual shells weist virtual enemies — as die kart move through the track an real life.

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The ride zu sein located inside a re-creation of Bowser’s castle, through lots of well-crafted Mario Kart paraphernalia zu look hinweisen as sie line up. (The queue was fast-moving on my visit and took about half bei hour in total, though i imagine wait zeit will it is in a gewächs longer when the park zu sein at complete capacity.) within you’re offered a plastic Mario hat that fits onto her head with in adjustable disc, a wenig like a game stations VR headset.

Once you get to your kart, you have to attach a HoloLens-style wired visor to die helmet, which is how you lakers the AR imagery. The field of view zu sein pretty good, but i found die ride fairly disorientating at first. Virtually immediately after die car bring away off, that comes to a stop punkt a corner deswegen that you tun können practice shooting off tortoise shells punkt various opponents flying about you. Ich thought the headset was glitching the end at zuerst since some des the adversaries were disappearing indigenous view; it take it me a while kommen sie realize that they were supposed zu be pass behind glow objects that in reality existed in real life.

There’s nur a last going on with the mario Kart ride. It doesn’t move very fast, however it feels like it go because the track zu sein often totally simulated. Ns Rainbow roadway section, for example, ist incredibly visually intense. Throughout all this you oase to drift ~ above command von using ns steering wheel while aiming turtle shells weist your opponents with your head und firing them with tasten on ns wheel, frequently as die car itself spins bei different directions.

It’s overwhelming however a whole gewächs of fun, and like ns rest von the park it seems to be more lucrative if freundin try it multiple times. Ich know I’d acquire a better score the next time around.

It’s deshalb designed kommen sie get better in the future, rather than some theme park attractions that soon uncover themselves technically obsolete. That’s why die headset has actually a modular design, for example. “It has kommen sie be modular due to the fact that augmented truth isn’t going to tonnage as long as most of our 15-20 year ride vehicle experiences,” Universal creative director of technology tom Geraghty said during a media roundtable this week. “We understand that the going to advance und come into your home. So we have plans to iterate ns tech to support the creative that we may change, so that it might be favor that.”

You tun können definitely lakers that the mario Kart ride is pushing at ns limits von what’s feasible with technology. It’s notfall necessarily a sleek experience best out of the gate, unlike Bandai Namco’s spectacular Mario Kart VR, but die sheer ambition zu sein impressive.

“The modern technology was notfall ready zum this,” says Universal creative SVP Thierry Coup. “But one des the incredible sachen that global Parks & resorts does, us look forward, and we seen a modern technology that could allow us to deliver in experience, and we seize it and we construct it further und make that happen. There ist a bit of calculated risk, however we yes, really think that’s die only way for us kommen sie really continue to be on the cutting edge des the ultimate experience.

“We believed AR would be ns perfect technology for this; you want zu be able to go v some des the items in Mario Kart, freundin want kommen sie collect things, freundin want to see the characters fly. Certain dinge you kann sein not do with stereo, 3D, or any type of other kind of projection. That had zu be AR.”

According to Coup, Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s talismanic designer and creator of Super mario Bros. und The Legend des Zelda, was deeply involved bei the mario Kart ride. “We space known weil das collaborating and partnering with ns creators von all des these incredible stories that we’ve brought zu life bei our parks, but i think this partnership with Mr. Miyamoto und his team has been past anything we’ve done before,” he says. “He was involved from work one, und creatively had his hands on whatever we’ve functioned together on. Ich think we more than likely had ns most funny out of any des our creations making this project. Everyone was a Nintendo fan. And because Mr. Miyamoto loves to have fun when he creates, while it was challenging, this was the most fun.”

“At ns very end of the project, Miyamoto-san mutual that we had made his dreams come true,” to add Geraghty. “Which was nur a life time high momente for me.”

The other ride an Super Nintendo World zu sein Yoshi’s Adventure, which zu sein very viel on ns other end of ns ambition spectrum. The a slow-paced train ride it is suitable zum kids and gives you a an excellent view von the park, yet otherwise no all that engaging.

While ns Yoshi series isn’t known zum its challenge, the interactive elements von Yoshi’s Adventure are minimal at best. Basically, you schutz three fancy egg buttons an front of you, and you niederdrücken them when you see that egg along the track. I’d ride it again zum the extra stamps, however there’s not much to it.

Super Nintendo World deshalb has a gewächs of giftig shops through exclusive merchandise and also food vendors with Mario-themed fare. Here is my energie Mushroom pizza Bowl, which was pretty good:

One thing you won’t discover on sale hinweisen Super Nintendo world — or at least ich didn’t — ist traditional Nintendo products like ns Switch or its software. Part von that can be due to currently restricted stock, but ns official Nintendo stores in New York und the new one in Tokyo sell Switch games too as the other merch. For now, weist least, the seems die company desires Super Nintendo World to serve as in opportunity kommen sie showcase that IP on its own terms together opposed to as a vehicle zum video games.

But if that’s the case, ns scope von the park ist actually rather limited punkt this point. It’s dubbed Super Nintendo World, but nearly everything in it zu sein related to mario one means or another. Yes sir speculation that it’ll expand zu include Donkey Kong hinweisen some allude — the door below is hidden an plain sight — yet even it is a Mario-adjacent franchise. Anyone looking zum references kommen sie The Legend des Zelda, Metroid, or Super stop Bros. wollen be disappointed.

Still, that feels choose a boy miracle the Super Nintendo world exists hinweisen all, more than a year into ns pandemic. Those there ideal now is a good first anfang with noticeable room zu grow. Also though attractions like mario Kart are hugely ambitious, it’s clear that improvements can und will be made to die park’s execution and scope.

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Nintendo’s biggest accomplishment with supervisor Nintendo World ist the way it gamifies the theme park experience. Ich love parks like Tokyo DisneySea, zum example, but there’s notfall as much to do when you’ve to be on all ns rides. Through Super Nintendo World, though, i already feel ns need kommen sie go back. I’m hoping it won’t be too lang before my Yoshi maßband gets an additional workout.