Bring Back Club Nintendo 33
We’re just around the corner from the official opening of Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan, and excitement levels couldn’t be higher! A couple of delays pushed back the original opening dates, originally intending to be open for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this will be the first Nintendo themed instalment in Universal Parks anywhere in the world, with the construction of an additional three in North America and Asia underway right now.
Universal Studios Japan in particular has a long standing tradition of collaborating with various pop culture properties, including crossovers with the likes of Sailor Moon, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Godzilla, Conan the Detective, Monster Hunter, Final Fantasy, just to name a few! Based on the quality of the attractions over the years, I think it’d be fair to say that Super Nintendo Land is in safe hands, but right now we’ve got little to no details of upcoming projects that might open up in years to come.
As someone with a pretty keen interest in theme parks old and new, I’ve come up with some suggestions for future attractions that Nintendo might want to take a look at, and who knows, maybe Doug Bowser will break into my house and force me to sign a contract allowing him to use my ideas in a few years time. “No Mr Bowser, those aren’t my ROMs! I was just looking after them for a friend!” I’ll cry. A week later I’m found half alive stuffed upside down in a big industrial pipe. The truth is never revealed.
There already exists multitudes of interactive dark rides, from the Men in Black: Alien Attack in Universal Orlando, to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin located in various Disney parks across the world. Perhaps even closer in its approximation is Monster’s, Inc. Ride & Go Seek at Tokyo Disneyland, where guests are provided with flashlights to locate and identify various monsters around the Monstropolis. It’s a simple and charming little dark ride, though because of its child friendly nature the queues can stretch for hours.
Already rumoured to be on the cards at some point in the near future is a Pokemon Snap ride, dropping guests into the world of the aforementioned game. The premise is fairly straightforward; take pictures of Pokemon in their natural habitat and you’ll get a score at the end of each level reflecting how impressive your shots were.
Adapting the technology to fit a Pokemon Snap styled ride might take some working out; I don’t think guests would need to be scored, or feel like they’re winning against their peers here. The reward would be spotting their favourite Pokemon actualised in real life – though animatronics for many different Pokemon might cause the designers some grief (perhaps the alternative is an AR headset, the likes of which have already been implemented into the Mario Kart ride at Super Nintendo World). There’s even opportunities here for app integration allowing riders to take pictures of their surroundings on their phones!
A brief mention of some kind of motive would be good here; maybe a legendary Pokemon has escaped, and as reporters your job is to locate it using the latest in Poke-technology (it’s a camera), or maybe even something as simple as being guests in one of Pokemon’s famous Safari Zones.
My only concern here would be that not everyone would be satisfied with the selection of Pokemon at hand, given there’s probably no way to squeeze over 700 of them into a single ride. Regardless, I’m sure there must be a way to create a spectacle out of just a handful of the creatures to appease a majority of guests.
ISLE DELFINO WATER PARK (SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE)
Mileage on this one is going to vary depending on the climate, but an Isle Delfino themed water park just makes sense. You could chuck in all the usual water park fare: a calm lazy river, sunbeds, thrilling log flumes, and splash some Super Mario Sunshine spice over the top. I’ll be honest, this is about as far as I’ve thought this one out, but the hub area in Sunshine is more or less already a glorified theme park as is. Just copy that.
Picture Yoshi just throwing up fruit juice across a busy walkway. Imagine how confused everyone would be. Just think about it for a minute.
SOME KIND OF METROID EXPERIENCE
There’s no denying that I was easily terrified as a kid. When I was nine years old I went on the now defunct Great Movie Ride (located in the park now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios), and the small 30 second long portion of the ride based on the Alien franchise made me cry for far longer than it probably should have.
Now, I’m not saying that a Metroid ride should be outright terrifying, but what I am saying is that it no doubt would be quite intense even if it wasn’t trying to be. I’ve never considered the series to be dark in it’s tone, but in terms of environments and locales, there are typically more dark, desaturated tones in there than most other Nintendo titles that come to mind. It probably also goes without saying that the adventures of Samus Aran owe something of their legacy to the Alien series.
Metroid might suit itself better to a rollercoaster than a dark ride in some respects – escaping from a self-destructing spaceship akin to the opening stage of the Metroid Prime game would make for a thrilling and somewhat intense experience, and all the while you’d get to explore some of the interesting technology and enemies that Samus has to deal with. Back when I was younger and was thinking of these things more simply I always imagined a Metroid ride to be similar to the Incredible Hulk ride at Universal Orlando; instead of being fired from a gamma-ray accelerator you’d be shot out of Samus’ arm cannon. Years later, I’m not entirely sure that’d accurately represent the Metroid franchise, but I’d like to think it proves I was at least trying to put the effort in as a kid.
(Late thought addition: just use the exact same formula as Magic Kingdom’s ill-fated ExtraTerrorestrial Alien Encounter, which was replaced for being completely tone deaf compared to the rest of the park’s rides. Swap out the horrifying alien creature for the cuter (if only by sheer contrast) titular baby Metroid, and have the facility invaded by Ridley, with Samus swooping in to clean up the mess, I can’t believe I thought of this after writing all of the above, this is a no brainer (late LATE thought addition: the experience that replaced the afformentioned Alien Encounter was eventually removed for still being innappropriate, even with the much cherished Stitch at the helm, so I’m not entirely sure why I was so convinced a Metroid would change anything. Still, I’d love to see it happen!))
KIRBY’S AIR RIDE
Kirby is universally loved for a number of reasons, but I think what most people love about him is that he’s just adorable! Even I, someone that’s hardly played more than an hour of any given Kirby game, find the soft, pink blob undeniably sweet. A Nintendo theme park without Kirby is like a McDonalds without Grimace (I mean, right now they don’t seem to have anything Kirby planned and I’m sure they’ll do fine, but please just let me have this for the sake of the article).
So let’s imagine they’re thinking about adding something Kirby related to their parks. It’s got to be small, like Kirby. It’s got to be kid friendly, like Kirby. It’ll probably have to be pink, like Kirby. My thoughts? A small, kid friendly, pink coaster, like Kirby! And they can even call it Kirby’s Air Ride, just like the Gamecube game.
SPLATOON SPLATFEST (SPLATOON)
One thing Nintendo is incredibly good at is making games for everyone. Although they might develop games that vary in tone, they never stray too far away from making titles that have an appeal up and down the age spectrum, probably to ensure they can maximise sales without making any controversial missteps with the content in their games. Some people wpuld consider this a point of criticism; if you’re making something for everyone, is what you’re really making art, or a product? It doesn’t matter here, that’s a completely different discussion, because I’m talking about theme parks, and as we know theme parks are here to SELL, SELL, SELL!
Splatoon at least straddles this line, with an interesting spin on multiplayer shooters that took the planet by storm over the decade before it’s release. No longer were competitive online shooters relegated to being solely about war – now they were about ink.
It’d perhaps be stretching the truth to say that Splatoon changed the landscape for online gaming, but it’s probably not a lie to state that, at least for Nintendo’s consoles, they opened up that mayhem to an audience that might not have been allowed to jump into lobby’s filled with harsh language and violent themes before.
Splatoon at its core is simple; spray your team colour’s ink across as much of the landscape as possible, if more of the map is your colour, your team wins. There’s a variety of gamemodes sprinkled in to keep things fresh, but arguably turf war is the most famous of the bunch. Appropriating the same technology found in Toy Story Mania (which, funnily enough, was turned into its own video game for the Nintendo Wii), you could easily create a compelling and competitive 4D attraction. Guests could battle to cover virtual walls with their carriage’s ink and offset traps with careful precision. You could even implement water effects to really simulate that true to life feeling of getting splatted. I won’t deny that this seems like a tame idea for a Splatoon ride, but think of the amount of cleaning up you’d have to do if there was a Splatoon attraction with something like real ink. I dread to think about it!
THE ROOST (ANIMAL CROSSING)
Animal Crossing has been popular among people of all ages for almost two decades now, but New Horizons on the Switch has proved unbelievably popular. At the time of writing, the Switch exclusive title has sold over 31 million copies worldwide, making it responsible for nearly 50% of all Animal Crossing video game sales across the series – and it’s not even been out for an entire year yet!
There’s a handful of different ways Nintendo and Universal could go about integrating Animal Crossing into Super Nintendo World, but among one of the easiest ways would be with stores (yes, truly the most exciting part of a theme park experience). The Able Sisters has been host to the in-game clothing retailer since the series began, and would be a perfect place to keep clothing merchandise, with Nook’s Cranny being a great place for your more typical souvenirs.
But a lesser known institution in the franchise is The Roost; a small coffee shop run by a pigeon named Brewster. Finding cheap and quick food in theme parks can be quite difficult during busier periods, and I have no doubt that an Animal Crossing themed stop would not achieve either of those specifications, though I’m absolutely sure it’d be charming and quaint nonetheless. It’d be even more perfect if it was somewhere out of the way, offering visitors a hidden recess away from all the action. And who knows, maybe K.K. Slider would pop in every so often to provide a little performance from time to time?
* Imagine a meet and greet with a 6ft tall Isabelle and Tom Nook. Halloween Horror Nights would never be the same again.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA 4D RIDE
The Legend of Zelda is arguably Nintendo’s most famous series, second only to the adventures of Mario and his friends. Link’s times in Hyrule (and elsewhere) have been resounding successes across multiple generations of consoles, and often the defining feature of his times saving the world is the freedom to cross the landscape in creative and innovative ways; Link has one of the most diverse CV’s in all of video game history, from sea captain, to train conductor, to jockey, he seems to be able to pick up anything he tries his hand at.
But Breath of the Wild took a step back from adding to Link’s repertoire of cross-country mounts, while maintaining and even increasing the level of freedom the player had to explore an expansive new version of Hyrule. This new style might’ve been a little derivative of other successful franchises, but the feedback was incredibly positive. Breath of the Wild took the series into uncharted territory, and the pay-off was spectacular. Of course, a Legend of Zelda ride could use any of its games as the backbone. There’s an incredible amount of variety on offer in terms of tone, visual styles, and story, even though the central characters and greater mission statement have always remained the same for over 30 years.
My suggestion would be using Breath of the Wild as the core of the ride, (purely for its enduring popularity and recency bias) to deliver a 4D ride experience, similar to that utilised in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, or perhaps even Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey found in multiple Universal Studios parks all over the world. Although the rides are fundamentally different in how they maneuver and weave through their respective ride tracks, their commitment to immersion and delivering a thrilling, unique experience is what stands out. Breath of the Wild is a love letter to exploration, and I think that would be important to display here, while still telling a story that would no doubt end with you helping the legendary hero himself defeat Calamity Ganon once more. Make no mistake, a hybrid of physical sets and CGI special effects would make for a breathtaking ride experience. Fake drops that make you feel like you’re plummeting hundreds of feet from a Divine Beast, as you’re swept away by your glider just in the nick of time, only to tumble down by the scalding hot lava-lakes near the Bridge of Eldin. The climax would have to feature Hyrule Castle prominently, though no doubt the final blow against Ganon could be delivered on the open plains of Hyrule Field, before we’re brought back to our grounded reality by Zelda’s powers.
There’s so much potential here for so many different types of rides with a Legend of Zelda theme – roller coasters, escape rooms, log flume rides, and these are all just jumping off points. The most important thing they need to capture is the sense of adventure that’s been imbued into the series since the very first game. They’ve done it before on so many other rides, and I’d hope they wouldn’t drop the ball here.
So, what are your thoughts? What rides do you think Nintendo should go about building once Super Nintendo World opens at the end of this month? Drop us an email, or leave a comment letting us know what you think! We’re always interested to hear from our readers, and who knows, maybe we’ll send a few of your suggestions to Mr Miyamoto himself!