AR ‘Mario Kart’ ride is coming to Japan’s Super Nintendo World

The official opening of Japan’s Universal Studios Super Nintendo World has finally been set for February 4th 2021, marking the 20th anniversary of USJ’s Osaka theme park. Perhaps the greatest attraction is the Mario Kart-themed ride with AR headsets.

In a Japanese press statement, the company boasts a number of state-of-the-art video techs such as projection mapping, special effects such as steam, as well as famous scenes from its past games reproduced on the ride’s course as set pieces.

The ride has been in development for more than six years now and the new theme park area cost ¥60 billion yen ($578 million USD) to build.

The ride takes place inside a recreation of Koopa’s (AKA Bowser’s) Castle and the AR headsets are topped with Mario’s famous cap. Riders will be able to race against other players through Mario Kart courses, throw shells, and race to the finish line with Mario and Peach.

The presence of COVID-19 makes February 4th an optimistic date, but the park is enforcing practices including social distancing, increased park sanitisation, masks, temperature checks and Osaka’s tracing app.

It remains to be seen whether large-format VR attractions will follow suit around the world. It will be interesting to see whether 2021 sees a wary public who feel safe enough to return to location-based entertainment after wide distribution of an effective vaccine.