'Super Mario' leaps into real world in Universal Studios park launch

Reuters
Washington DC, USA Published: Mar 18, 2021, 10:58 AM(IST)

It is Super Mario Bros. that’s 35, not Mario. He’s 39 Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

New draws at 'Super Nintendo World' include 'Mario Kart: Koopa`s Challenge', a ride employing augmented reality headsets, and the more sedate 'Yoshi's Adventure' for younger visitors.
 

Universal Studios Japan (USJ) opens on Thursday its $550 million, pandemic-delayed Mario-themed attraction in a major leap by games maker Nintendo Co Ltd beyond the virtual world.

The addition in Osaka bulks up USJ`s roster of franchises, which include "Minions" and "Jurassic Park", in its rivalry with Disney, with the moustachioed plumber also coming to other Universal parks worldwide.

Entering through a giant warp pipe, visitors to "Super Nintendo World", a real-world version of games creator Shigeru Miyamoto`s Mushroom Kingdom, are met with chomping piranha plants, punchable coin blocks and a flag-topped Mount Beanpole.

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At the attraction, whose opening was delayed repeatedly from last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors can buy a $30 "power-up band" which syncs with the park`s app to rank them as they gather coins and defeat baddies. "You can become Mario," Ayumu Yamamoto, vice president in USJ`s marketing department, told reporters at a press preview. USJ is owned by Comcast Corp.

The wristband draws on the interactive wands in the Harry Potter attraction and Nintendo`s tradition of tactile gaming gadgets and aims to capitalise on Mario`s generation-spanning appeal to drive repeat visits to the park.

New draws at 'Super Nintendo World' include 'Mario Kart: Koopa`s Challenge', a ride employing augmented reality headsets, and the more sedate 'Yoshi's Adventure' for younger visitors.

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The area`s opening is a reply to investors frustrated by Nintendo`s reluctance to more aggressively commercialize its fan base. The Kyoto-based firm`s Switch games console has proved a pandemic winner while a foray into mobile gaming has stalled.

Visitors formed a long queue to join Super Nintendo World`s technical rehearsal the day before opening. USJ is currently operating at reduced capacity and guests will need timed tickets to enter the area.

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