Universal Studios Japan is readying its awe-inspiring Super Nintendo World for a Feb. 4, 2021 opening within its Osaka theme park, and the main attraction is an augmented reality-enabled 'Mario Kart' rollercoaster.
The new February timeline is a few months ahead of the previously expected opening period of spring 2021, according to this press release. 2021 also marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of Universal Studios' Japanese operation.
Bloomberg was treated to an early tour of the fantasy land, including the epic 'Mario Kart' ride called Koopa's Challenge. When riders enter Koopa or Bowser's Castle they're greeted by a life-size statue of Super Nintendo's favorite antagonist and a trophy room mimicking the awards earned in the video game.
The experience itself puts 4 players in a car where each of them is equipped with a steering wheel and an AR headset that looks like Mario's signature red cap (0:40 mark of the second video). Riders race against another group on a separate track and try to collect power-ups to get ahead, though the cars are attached to rails so they won't go spinning out of control if they hit a virtual wall (or possibly a banana peel).
Koopa's Challenge seems to be the first step in constructing the larger Super Nintendo World, as a 'Donkey Kong' zone is reportedly taking shape "next door." A vibrant Super Nintendo store and cafe offering Mario and Luigi-inspired pancake sandwiches opened in the Hollywood area of the same Osaka theme park in October.
USJ claims it's working with health officials to create a healthy and safe environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 50% capacity will be allowed until further notice.
Anyone trying to plan a vacation to Japan?