We’ve known for a while that Nintendo was partnering with Universal Parks and Resorts, but only today did it start to feel real. The video below dropped today, including Shigeru Miyamoto saying: “We are working very hard to create attractions that can be equally enjoyable to anybody regardless of age.”
So, it seems like an ideal time to start speculating what amazing structures we might be seeing pop up at Universal Theme Parks. With a wide catalogue of beloved franchises to choose from, there’s certainly a few ideas that come to mind. Let’s look at just five, for now:
Mario Kart Bumper Cars
This is almost too easy, this one. The idea of bumper cars on their own is fun, but they do always seem to look a bit… bland. Lack of visual creativity going on, there. So what better to brighten it up, than the Mushroom Kingdom? Not only would iconic kart designs, like the B-Dasher perhaps, be a blast to drive around in, but you could add other aspects in. Perhaps a couple of the items. No, not the Blue Shell or anything like that – it may be hard to replicate that – but, say, the Item Box to obstruct other karts or slippery patches where a Banana icon is. If you want to aim high, you could actually make a full-on go-kart course. Either way, Mario Kart is a must-have.
In my eyes, another must-have for any Nintendo theme park. The haunted mansion idea is getting a little bit stale now, so let’s get Mario to liven it up! Wait, no – this is Luigi’s time to shine. With a Luigi Death Stare at the door for everyone who enters, this may be the most unnerving haunted mansion you’ve ever faced. With ghosts that look away when you see them (get some light trickery going on here, drawing attention and then hiding the Boos) and Luigi’s wails in the background, this could be a really enjoyable take. Also, it might be one that you can take your children to if they aren’t usually too fond of this sort of thing.
To top it off, you could use the idea of fake doors and multiple exits from the Mario games to deceive the crowd. You could have a special winning exit for those who find it, as well as doors that lead to dead ends. As long as it doesn’t start getting to the level of cruelty some user-created Super Mario Maker levels go to. That could get bad.
Wave Race Water Ride
Let’s start getting away from the usual Mario-themed rides. This partnership with Universal Theme Parks opens the way for some classic franchises to sail again. Wave Race has been dried up (so many pun opportunities…) since the GameCube, but a Nintendo theme park is a prime opportunity to bring it back. Water rides are staples! An on-rails, undulating course which slaloms through posts could be utterly thrilling. Get some rollercoaster-style build-up to big drops and sharp turns, and a success may be on your hands. Also, it might help push along another sequel (how about that, Nintendo?).
F-Zero/Star Fox Rollercoaster
Speaking of rollercoasters… Nintendo, you have two sci-fi, high-speed series that would fit the rollercoaster format fabulously.
Both series speak for themselves, really. Star Fox is all about being on-rails, and holding on to your controller as you fly, flip, and do a barrel roll through the environments. That last point being particularly important: we need a barrel roll-ing rollercoaster. Meanwhile, F-Zero is about undiluted speed. This could be one of your top-end Nintendo attractions, with a rapid, yet smooth and fluid, ride that will give you a huge adrenaline rush. Just like Wave Race, this might be a way to get the word out about another series that could do with another entry.
Metroid Laser Tag
Look, we’ve got to do something for Samus’ 25th anniversary. At a theme park, the atmospheric part of Metroid might have to take a back seat, but the series does have a lot of action credit too. Not everyone may have liked Metroid Prime: Federation Force (okay, that’s an understatement), but the multi-character style might fit a theme park really well.
You see, laser tag needs something to spice it up now, and Metroid could be the answer. Some arm cannon-style guns, Metroids as the targets, and just a little of that atmosphere I mentioned earlier in the dark corridors, and you’ve got yourself an inventive take. Maybe put a cake in the middle for Samus to find, too. She needs something, Nintendo.
The Alternate Answer: Nintendo Land
There’s another way to approach all of this. Wii U launched with Nintendo Land, which is literally a game about a Nintendo theme park with attractions focused on different series. If you want to save time, just lift as much of that as possible, even if it MIGHT be impossible. Also, no, Ice Climber isn’t included this time.
There’s plenty more that could be done with Nintendo’s IP in a theme park setting. They are such iconic characters, with such varied and colourful worlds. That was just 5(-ish) ideas for what could be done; if you have any ideas, let us know in the comments – we’d really like to read them!