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Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto on how he helped craft Universal Parks' Super Nintendo World
If you're going to build a Super Mario theme park, then you better go directly to the source.
If you're going to construct an entire theme park based around the Nintendo legacy, then you better ask for some help from the man who build the brand into what it is today. That'd be Shigeru Miyamoto — legendary creator of video game icons like Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Boswer, Toad, Donkey Kong, Princess Zelda, Link, Star Fox, and Pikmin — whose feedback proved invaluable in shaping the current Super Nintendo World installations at Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Hollywood.
"We had this shared idea of trying to create something new and impressive, and the idea of wanting to create something that’s truly interactive,” Miyamoto explained during a recent interview with The Verge. “In that sense, our involvement wasn’t just a matter of reviewing assets or reviewing designs. But really trying to get down to the nitty-gritty of how people are going to experience this, and what their experiences are going to be. And we had a lot of meetings to discuss and nail down what we wanted to accomplish here.”
Miyamoto — who boasts the title of Representative Director and Fellow at Nintendo — also confessed to feeling an initial sense of "intimidation," worried about whether park guests would feel genuinely immersed in the universe of Mario and his famous cohorts.
"Are people going to be convinced that this is actually the Mushroom Kingdom?” he asked himself near the start of the creative process. "Are they going to feel like they’re in the world? That’s something that you really can’t tell until it’s made. So there was a lot of trial-and-error time to really get the feel for what it is that makes this experience convincing."
That trepidation wasn't exactly unfounded. After decades of working in the digital space, Miyamoto needed to crack the code of how to suspend disbelief in the third dimension. Thankfully, the opening of each subsequent park has allowed for more and more innovation such as a warp pipe tunnel exit at Universal Studios Hollywood that takes visitors away from Super Nintendo World.
"The exit path here requires you to go through a pipe to emphasize the fact that you are going to the non-Nintendo World part of Universal,” he continued. "The park is going to expand to Florida and Singapore, and I’m sure we’re going to have learnings from there as well."
Of course, the real world does pose a number of restrictions on what can and can't be done. Miyamoto, for instance, would love for guests to have the opportunity to climb to the flagpole (a signpost of a completed level in the original games) at the top of Mount Beanpole, "but obviously there are safety concerns, so that didn’t happen," he said. "It’s unfortunate because the hardware is there."
Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood is now open to the general public. Click here for ticketing options.
The grand opening comes two months ahead of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which is scheduled to open in theaters Friday, April 7. The first cinematic translation of the Mario video game franchise in almost three decades, the Illumination-animated feature rocks an ensemble voice cast of Chris Pratt, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Day, Seth Rogen, and more.
Can't get enough of themed lands at Universal theme parks? When you can't make it to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, satisfy your craving by binging the films, now streaming on Peacock.