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Super Mario leaps into real world in Universal Studios park launch in Osaka, Japan

The Super Nintendo World attraction opens to the public on Thursday (Mar 18). Visitors enter the Mario-themed attraction through a giant warp pipe and are met with chomping piranha plants, punchable coin blocks and a flag-topped Mount Beanpole.

Super Mario leaps into real world in Universal Studios park launch in Osaka, Japan

Mario and Luigi characters greet visitors in front of Yoshi's Adventure attraction inside Super Nintendo World, a new attraction area featuring the popular video game character Mario, which is set to open to public on Mar 18, during a press preview at the Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka, western Japan, Mar 17, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Irene Wang)

Universal Studios Japan (USJ) opens on Thursday (Mar 18) its US$550 million (S$736 million), pandemic-delayed Mario-themed attraction in a major leap by games maker Nintendo Co Ltd beyond the virtual world.

The addition in Osaka bulks up USJ's roster of franchises, which include Minions and Jurassic Park, in its rivalry with Disney, with the moustachioed plumber also coming to other Universal parks worldwide.

General view shows Yoshi's Adventure inside Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan. (Photo: Reuters/Irene Wang)

Entering through a giant warp pipe, visitors to "Super Nintendo World", a real-world version of games creator Shigeru Miyamoto's Mushroom Kingdom, are met with chomping piranha plants, punchable coin blocks and a flag-topped Mount Beanpole.

At the attraction, whose opening was delayed repeatedly from last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors can buy a US$30 "power-up band" which syncs with the park's app to rank them as they gather coins and defeat baddies.

"You can become Mario," Ayumu Yamamoto, vice president in USJ's marketing department, told reporters at a press preview. 

Stuffed Mario toys are displayed at 1Up Factory inside Super Nintendo World. (Photo: Reuters/Irene Wang)

The wristband draws on the interactive wands in the Harry Potter attraction and Nintendo's tradition of tactile gaming gadgets and aims to capitalise on Mario's generation-spanning appeal to drive repeat visits to the park.

New draws at "Super Nintendo World" include "Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge", a ride employing augmented reality headsets, and the more sedate "Yoshi's Adventure" for younger visitors.

Visitors walk towards Super Nintendo World, a new attraction at Universal Studios Japan. (Photo: Reuters/Irene Wang)

The area's opening is a reply to investors frustrated by Nintendo's reluctance to more aggressively commercialise its fan base. The Kyoto-based firm's Switch games console has proved a pandemic winner while a foray into mobile gaming has stalled.

Visitors formed a long queue to join Super Nintendo World's technical rehearsal the day before opening. USJ is currently operating at reduced capacity and guests will need timed tickets to enter the area.

(Source: Reuters)

Source: Reuters/sr

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