Universal Studios Japan today announced that its highly anticipated Super Nintendo World area will finally be open to the public on February 4, 2021. IGN Japan was available to take a look at a section of the new world; the first time members of the press were invited in – check out our gallery below.
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Bowser Castle (or Koopa Castle in Japan) is an immense reconstruction of the iconic site of the games. Visitors will be able to climb a grand staircase, on top of which is an imposing life-size bronze statue of Bowser himself. The scale is really impressive.
The walls of the castle's corridors are lined with huge paintings of portraits of Bowser, together with bright and colorful emblems from the Mario Kart games. Huge knockers of fake brass adorn the doors, while Bowser's face in menacing silhouette peers from the top of the door frames.
We also saw where visitors will line up for one of the park's most anticipated new attractions, Mario Kart: Koopa Challenge, which promises to put visitors in the driver's seat on a ride that includes AR effects and projection mapping for bring the courses of Mario Kart games to life. This is accomplished through a special headset stylized in Mario's hat with a built-in AR screen.
The attraction is the result of a six-year collaboration with the Nintendo creative team, including information from the creator of Mario Shigeru Miyamoto. [poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=Mario%20Kart%3A%20Koopa%E2%80%99s%20Challenge%20promises%20to%20put%20visitors%20in%20the%20driving%20seat%20for%20a%20ride%20that%20includes%20AR%20and%20projection%20mapping%20effects%20to%20bring%20courses%20from%20the%20Mario%20Kart%20games%20to%20life.”]
Mario Kart Station is where visitors will board the tour. Each kart has four seats, with a steering wheel and AR headset for each driver. Warp Pipes hang from the ceiling of the station's departure hall, while thick metal chains and huge gears decorate the room. The facade of a Lemmy tire repair shop and other details can be seen above.
We also walked through a trophy room where guests can pose for photos alongside artifacts inspired by the games, including family trophies and one with the USJ logo, as well as a handwritten note from Bowser presenting a karting challenge.
Speaking to the media gathered, Mario Kart's executive attraction producer: Koopa's Challenge, Thomas Geraghty, showed off the new headphone and Power Up Band. He noted that this will be the first time at a Mario Kart theme park. "We are going to bring the story to life with Nintendo's very attractive characters – Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach – and we are going to immerse our guests in the world of Nintendo with this augmented reality headset," he said. "Guests will join their favorite characters immersed in augmented reality, directing their way through the Mushroom Kingdom, throwing projectiles at Koopalings, as they race to the finish." He said there will be states of victory and defeat in the game, so victory is not guaranteed.
Geraghty said that the headphones will be cleaned after each use, along with other measures of social distance.
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The Super Nintendo World was originally planned to open before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 this summer, but this was postponed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, in October a Mario-themed cafe and shop opened at USJ and was opened, separate from the Super Nintendo World area. The final area promises to include some really cool gamified elements, like interactive attractions where visitors link their Power Up Bands to a mobile app to collect digital coins and unlock achievements.
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Universal Studios Japan is located in Osaka, Japan, and at the time of this writing, Japan's borders were closed to foreign tourists, although permanent foreign residents and business visitors from some countries are allowed to enter. The government is planning to reopen fully to tourists in the spring of 2021.
In addition to the USJ Super Nintendo World attraction, future locations are also being considered at other Universal Studios parks around the world.
[poilib element=”accentDivider”]  Daniel Robson is editor in chief of IGN Japan – follow him on Twitter here !