Oh my god, “says Chris, eyes wide.” Oh. My. God. “He looks around, has the great castle of the dreaded final opponent Bowser in his back, recognizes the supposedly kidnapped princess in front of him
Peach. The colors around it are squeaky, the shapes childishly round, the music from the speakers sounds like a ringtone from earlier generations of cell phones. “I’m so excited,” hans Chris, whose mouthguard is decorated with figures from the world of Nintendo to match the occasion. “I’m not exaggerating. I’m really as excited about how it looks right now!”
Many seem to have felt the same way. More than three million people viewed the video of the vlogger, whose YouTube channel “TDRExplorer” has 55,000 subscribers, last month. At the beginning of February, the influencer, who specializes in amusement parks, was one of the privileged few to take a first look at the new fan paradise that was about to open in the southwestern Japanese metropolis of Osaka. On March 18, it is now done, normal fans and their companions are also allowed in – into the Super Nintendo World.
It is the world’s first amusement park to bring the heroes from the popular video game universe around Super Mario to reality. Since the 1980s, Mario has inspired generations of young and now no longer young people in a number of countries. The first video game with Mario as a character appeared in 1981, at that time still as a supporting actor in “Donkey Kong” on an arcade machine that worked with a coin slot. It was a key moment in recent pop culture history.
Hero of the platform game
Two years after “Donkey Kong”, the plumber Mario himself came out as the main character for the first time: In the arcade game “Mario Bros.” he and his brother Luigi have to fight various monsters in a sewer system. This archetypal Mario inherited a barely countable number of sequels and adaptations at Nintendo over the next few decades.
First, the home console “Famicon”, which operated under the name Nintendo in Europe, was followed by the game “Super Mario Bros.”, in which Mario and Luigi have to free the kidnapped Princess Peach from the claws of the villain Bowser. New editions and further developments appeared on every Nintendo console. Since then, Super Mario has been arguably the most influential platformer in video game history.
The recently opened Super Nintendo World is structured in such a way that fans of the games can find their way around immediately. In fact, it creates an atmosphere like in the world of video games – whether you got to know them during the 1990s in 2D graphics or in much more sophisticated resolution on the latest consoles. Because the designers of Super Mario have always stayed true to his basic design of full hues and pop-like, comic-like characters.
The amusement park planners have apparently made the same effort. Every guest can use the app to create an account and collect points for various activities, corresponding to the jingling of coins from the video games. “Here I stand in front of Bowser Castle,” says Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario, in a PR video from the end of December, when the site was actually ready to open, “and inside is the Mario Kart course! “
The kart track, based on the home console game of the same name, is touted as one of the park’s main attractions. Unlike in the fictional original, you can’t plant bombs on your opponents or throw banana peels on the asphalt, so that they reach their destination more slowly. Otherwise the concept is similar to that from “Mario Kart”. At least one ride is included in the regular admission price of 7,315 yen (around 56 euros).
Super Nintendo World is by no means the first amusement park in which a fictional world can be physically tangible and experienced. In 1971, Disney’s first theme park opened in Florida, USA, with Mickey and Minnie Mouse as the central characters. The concept has since paid off and has expanded worldwide. For a good ten years, the Universal Orlando Resort has been offering the superlative in the form of a multi-theme park: Here visitors will find, among other things, the worlds from “Harry Potter”, “Jurassic Park”, heroes from the Marvel universe such as Spiderman and Hulk. Again and again it is about roller coasters, labyrinths and other attractions that are more or less based on the original stories.
Massive losses due to Covid
Until the opening of Super Nintendo World in Osaka, the stamina of the fans has been extensively tested. The gates were originally supposed to open in mid-2020. When the Japanese government imposed a state of emergency in the spring due to the pandemic, the inauguration was postponed to a later date in the year. But when the revised plans turned out to be too optimistic, those responsible postponed until the beginning of February. That date was then – due to the pandemic – reserved for a few selected guests. Only now, on March 18, will regular operations begin. Super Nintendo World isn’t the only amusement park to be hit hard by the pandemic. Disneyland in the most populous US state of California was converted into a large vaccination center earlier this year. The equivalent Disney World in the US state of Florida had to cease operations temporarily, as did the branch in Paris. The costs of these pandemic-related closings amount to several billion euros each.
Probably for economic reasons too, Universal Studios Japan, which operates Super Nintendo World, did not want to wait any longer and argue the opening with their security concept. During the entire stay there is a mask requirement, disinfectants are available at every attraction, crowds of people should be avoided. Whereby the last claim may seem naive as soon as you think of queuing in front of the go-kart track or at a food stand.
Admittedly, anyone who has been in contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus should be refused entry. Of course, even this hardly guarantees that the pandemic will not be introduced here and spread. This may only be thought out aloud when the time has come. First of all, one should be happy. The final opponent comes in its own time.