We’ve known for a while that Nintendo is partnering with Universal Parks and Resorts. The video below dropped near the end of 2016, including Shigeru Miyamoto saying: “We are working very hard to create attractions that can be equally enjoyable to anybody regardless of age.” Have we truly comprehended how cool this could end up being?
I don’t think we have. It can’t be too long until we see the magical results, so maybe we could start imaging the amazing structures we that might 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. Perhaps a lack of visual creativity is going on there? What better way to brighten it up than with the Mushroom Kingdom? Not only would iconic kart designs, like the B-Dasher, be a blast to drive around in, but you could add other aspects in – maybe a couple of the items, for example. 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, especially with the popularity of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch.
In my eyes, this is 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 could be the most unnerving haunted mansion you’ve ever faced. You could include ghosts that look away when you see them (get some light trickery going on here, drawing attention and then hiding the Boos), and even some Luigi wails in the background. Not only could this be a really fun take on the haunted mansion, but it could be one that you can take your children to, even 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 cruelty level of some user-created Super Mario Maker levels. We don’t want people leaving with tears in their eyes.
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 must-haves! 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?), but let’s go one step at a time.
F-Zero/Star Fox Rollercoaster
Speaking of rollercoasters… Nintendo, you have two sci-fi, high-speed series that would fit the rollercoaster format fabulously. Come on, now, I’m giving you the big-money ideas here.
Both series speak for themselves, really. Star Fox is literally an on-rails game, which has you clinging 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. 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’s not gotten much attention recently – at least that is being fixed, with Samus Returns on 3DS in 2017 and the upcoming Metroid Prime 4!
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! Nintendo Land was full of attractions focused on different series. If you want to save time, just lift as much of that as possible into the theme park design, even if it MIGHT be impossible. Also, no, Ice Climber still isn’t included this time. Sorry.
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, you can let me know in the comments – I’d really like to read them!