Video game fans will want to fly out to Osaka, Japan as soon as the travel ban is lifted. That is because the Super Nintendo World theme park has finally opened.

After months of pandemic delays, Nintendo‘s first ever theme park is now open and operational to delight fans. The attraction, which features elements and characters from classic games, will no doubt appease guests of all ages.

Nintendo Comes To Life

The attraction, modelled after bright, block-like surroundings from hit games like ‘Super Mario’, is part of the existing Universal Studios Japan amusement park in the western city of Osaka.

“We perfectly recreated the world of the game here in Super Nintendo World,” says Ayumu Yamamoto, USJ’s marketing communication manager. “You’ll find life-sized piranha plants and Bowser, and you’ll see what it is like to be Mario.”

“It took almost a year longer than we had expected to open this place, and we are really glad,” he told reporters at a preview.

super nintendo world opening
(Image: Universal Studios Japan on Instagram)

The new themed attraction had originally been expected to draw big crowds last year. Its opening was timed to coincide with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was also postponed by the coronavirus.

Its launch was then pushed back to February. However, this was delayed again as Japan’s government declared a state of emergency in early 2021 to curb spiking cases. Now though, the wait is finally over for Nintendo fans.

Stepping Into The World Of Video Games

Music from the popular Mario games plays throughout Super Nintendo World. Visitors wear smartphone-linked wristbands allowing them to collect virtual coins by punching blocks, just like the Italian plumber.

Augmented reality goggles attached to a red plastic visor are used in the “Mario Kart” ride. It is one of the park’s main draws that promises to bring the racing game to life.

The ride follows a track around the foreboding castle of Mario’s enemy Bowser, an evil turtle. Each seat has a steering wheel and players can collect and shoot items at opponents.

super nintendo world theme park
Visitors living out their video game dreams (Image: Hiromi Tanque/AFP)

The zone also boasts a ride based on the cute green dinosaur Yoshi, and a Peach’s castle alongside Mario-themed restaurants and life-sized characters from the Mushroom Kingdom.

Fans told AFP they were thrilled about the much-anticipated opening of the park, which cost more than 60 billion yen (S$550 million), according to USJ.

“I’ve been playing Mario since I was a boy,” said Hiroki Kono, a 19-year-old university student in Osaka. “I didn’t expect that I could enter the world of Mario, so I’m very excited.”

Waiting For The Big Day

Office worker Rei Higashimoto, 25, was also delighted about the launch of Super Nintendo World. “I have an annual pass, so I knew this Mario world was being created. I have waited from one year ago for this day to come,” she said.

Japan is the first to get a Super Nintendo World, but it will not be the last. Similar areas are also being planned for Universal Studios parks in Orlando and Hollywood.

The first “Super Mario Bros” game came out in 1985 for Nintendo’s NES console. The platform game, in which Mario runs and jumps past obstacles to collect coins and save Princess Peach from the evil Koopa turtles, was based on the “Mario Bros” arcade game released earlier.

Since then, Mario has appeared in myriad formats including games featuring racing, football and golf.

‘Super Mario Bros’ creator Shigeru Miyamoto took a tour of the park in a promotional video released in December.

“At last, it’s complete! It makes a big impression, seeing the park in real life,” said Miyamoto. The creator also described himself as Mario’s “Dad” as he popped out of a giant green pipe.

“There are smaller activities like the coin block, as well as bigger ones… If you manage to get three keys from various activities, you can take on the final activity – a battle with Bowser Jr… I’m very excited for all of you to experience the park on your own,” he added.

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