Nintendo has been planning its theme park ambitions with Universal Studios for quite a while now, with eventual parks slated to appear in Japan, Hollywood, and Orlando Florida. While progress on the parks is no-doubt consistently being made, a recent patent filing from Nintendo has brought the game maker's upcoming amusements back into public discussion. According to the patent, the parks may very well be called -- you guessed it -- Super Nintendo World. Aside from the vague (and probably untrue) implication that such a park would be about SNES specifically, I can’t think of a more fitting and appropriate name.
With Super Nintendo World feeling more real than ever, it got me thinking about the style of attractions I’d most like to try while exploring such an undoubtedly magical place. Obviously the possibilities are endless, and with Nintendo’s vast catalog of IP, merely touching upon all of it will be quite the challenge. Below are attractions that sprang to my mind immediately, though I’d of course love to see the likes of Fire Emblem, Super Smash Bros., and endless others represented too. Either way, hopefully the folks at Nintendo and Universal are already knee-deep in developing many of these and more. If not, perhaps someone will show them this article.
The most obvious attraction (and the one specifically alluded to in the patent) ought to be real-life Mario Kart, and there are a number of reasons for this. Not only are bumper cars a staple of any caged-in park setting that kids are drawn to, but Mario Kart serves as a catch-all for several Nintendo franchises, especially with its expansion to include Zelda, Animal Crossing, and Splatoon more recently. Given the varied Mii costumes drawn from Nintendo’s vast IP catalog in Mario Kart 8, the ride could even be expanded to include the likes of F-Zero, Starfox, and whoever else wants in on the racing action.
Of course, this shouldn’t be mere “normal” bumper cars - Balloon Battle ought to be simulated in some way, as should the hurling of items at other racers. Obviously you don’t want park-goers throwing actual, physical blue shells at their family and friends, but digitizing the system somehow and having the karts react, shake, or lose control accordingly would be highly convincing.
Hyrule Castle Tour
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom notoriously sports Mickey’s Castle from Fantasia, as does Universal Studios’ Harry Potter park flaunt its very own Hogwarts. As such, Super Nintendo World parks should feature a real life Hyrule Castle, complete with many of the trimmings found within from game to game. Of course, it’s probably better the castle resemble the actually-functioning structure found in Twilight Princess and other titles rather than the decrepit, overrun rendition found in Breath of the Wild, but ultimately that will be Nintendo’s call.
In addition to being a Magic Kingdom-style pass through, the castle could double as an attraction, offering a Haunted Mansion-style tour through its interior, complete with castle guards, soldiers, and of course, familiar faces. You could even mix in a little bit of Splash Mountain, telling a story as the ride progresses or showing famous scenes from various Zelda titles released over the years. It’s ambitious, sure, but if you’re going to create a Super Nintendo World, it needs to be all-or-nothing.
3D Metroid Motion Ride
It’s tough to pinpoint how Metroid and Samus Aran ought to be featured, and while it's tempting to assign the series with some kind of roller coaster extravaganza, I think what might suit it better is a virtual ride, with chairs that rock back and forth in place as onscreen events unfold. A first-person view ala Prime would help keep park-goers engrossed, as Samus tackles her latest bounty, defeats Space Pirates, and eventually comes in direct contact with deadly Metroids. 3D glasses, as are often found at theme parks, could heighten the realism further, or even offer a few jump-scares and gags as a Metroid pops out of the screen and latches onto your face. Sure, non-gamer parents would have no clue what’s going on, but everyone else would love it.
Star Fox Roller Coaster
I saved the rollercoaster designation for Star Fox, as its Arwings suit that style of attraction perfectly. Outdoor coasters at Six Flags are great and all, but here you’d want an indoor, Space Mountain-esque experience where you traverse the cosmos in an Arwing rather than outdoors somewhere in Japan or Florida.
Roller coasters are pretty advanced these days, so simulating barrel rolls and other such maneuvers ought to be no problem. You’d hear the voices of Fox, Falco, Slippy, and Peppy explaining your mission as the ride progresses, only to culminate with some kind of epic space encounter with Andross that sends your Arwing coaster-car twirling and looping every which way. I’m no roller coaster expert so I’ll leave the design specifics to the pros, but clearly there’s potential here.
As one of Nintendo's behemoth properties, Pokémon cannot be ignored - in fact, it’s probably too big for a single ride or attraction alone. Instead, Pokémon themselves should be hidden throughout the park, in both real-world and AR capacities. Pokémon Go players would have a field day catching rare monsters that can’t be found anywhere else, while players of the 3DS (and eventual Switch) titles would find exclusive downloads, legendaries waiting to be captured, and the like.
For those who don’t happen to play the Pokémon games, there could also be actual replicas of various Pokémon hidden throughout the park, tracked via phone app or paper checklist provided at the park’s entrance.
Kirby’s Dreamland Walk-Through
Every theme park needs some laidback fare, so why not take a stroll through Dreamland to the happy-go-lucky tunes of the Kirby series? The franchise is absolutely rife with music perfect for ambient theme park background, and the settings of Kirby’s world could be imagined vividly as a walk-through, cartoony sort of paradise.
Jumbo models of Kirby, King DeDeDe, and others would populate the various spaces, or better yet, actual mascot characters could walk around waiting for photo-ops and high-fives. Like Disney World, autograph books might be a fun means of collecting-them-all when it comes to meeting the entire cast, though I’ll admit I’m not sure if Kirby can properly hold a pen. If not, this idea may need some further workshopping.
Interaction with Nintendo Hardware
Nintendo is a gaming and toy company foremost, and as such its theme park ought to interact directly with its own hardware and software. Streetpass on 3DS seems like the perfect match - park goers could download a Super Nintendo World app to their device, collect in-game baubles or exclusive items from the park itself or other attendees passing by, and perhaps even receive downloads and full-on download play from various attractions within the park.
Beyond all of this, the Streetpass opportunities created by simply gathering so many people in one place would be massive, making for plenty to do during lunch breaks in terms of AR puzzle pieces, challenger Fire Emblem armies, fellow Pokémon trainers, and more. Nintendo Switch doesn’t appear to have a Streetpass equivalent as of now, so hopefully the company’s online service planned for September remedies that.