It is as though I have stepped into a video game. After a madcap rush through the sprawling park grounds of Universal Studios Japan in Osaka (from $86.35 on Klook) to get to its latest attraction Super Nintendo World in time for my pre-booked entry, I am more than a little discombobulated by the sensory overload.
Here, I am surrounded by buildings created in the likeness of those in the Super Mario game of my childhood, such as Princess Peach’s castle and Yoshi’s house.
There are human-size pipes, reward blocks, piranha plants all in the hyper-saturated hues of the original game. It makes me – a fully grown, sensible adult – feel like jumping in the air just like the main characters Mario and Luigi.
The main Mario Kart Koopa’s Challenge ride, an augmented-reality(AR) game meets go-kart ride, is even more riveting. We are given plastic Mario hats, to which a nifty AR visor is attached, once we are seated.
Then the fun really begins as we fire turtle shells at the bad guys and collect rewards while the Kart careens wildly along a track.
It is possibly the most high-tech, interactive theme park ride ever created thus far, and judging by the joyful looks of my fellow riders at the end of those precious few minutes, I am not the only one who is amazed by this boundary-pushing ride.
There is no doubt this theme park within a theme park – a similar concept to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – is already a runaway success.
Even though it opened in Universal Studios Japan last year in the middle of the pandemic and travel regulations continue to restrict the number of tourists to the country, it is already swarming with local visitors who cannot get enough of this immersive world, the fun rides and, of course, the excellent merchandise.
But unlike the super fans who are here to live out their video game fantasies, I am here for work.