Fans of Mario and Zelda can start booking their flights: it’s been confirmed that the world’s first Super Nintendo World theme park will open in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The Japanese theme park will celebrate Nintendo’s heritage with state-of-the-art rides and interactive areas across a huge $351 million site.
A real-life Mario Kart course looks like it will be the highlight of the park, in Osaka’s Universal Studios. Cars will run on rails, with one rider controlling the drift while their partner uses weapons and handles power-ups.
Nintendo began operating in 1889, selling playing cards. It evolved into a toy company before becoming one of the pioneers of video games. Via the Game Boy, Nintendo 64 and Wii, it grew to become one of the dominant players in the market. Games such as Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Mario Kart, Tetris and Legend of Zelda became cultural phenomena, played obsessively by children and adults.
Nintendo hopes to appeal to nostalgic adults and thrill-seeking children with the park, which is being built in partnership with Universal Studios. Super Nintendo Worlds in Orlando, Hollywood and Singapore are all planned. The move sees Nintendo develop its brand after several years in which revenue from games and consoles have stalled.
Sean Kelly, co-founder of the National Videogame Museum in Texas, says that the company’s history gives it a unique selling point. “Nintendo is the most well-known video game company ever,” he told Orlando Rising. “I can’t even imagine trying to argue against that statement. Companies like Sega or Atari or Activision, for example, all played very important roles in the history of video games, but none have had anywhere near the level of success, longevity and consistent quality as Nintendo has.”