Between Super Nintendo World coming to Universal Studios Japan and the rumor of The Legend of Zelda coming to Universal Orlando Resort, now is a great time to be both a Nintendo and amusement park lover. Nintendo just has so much history and so many rich franchises from which to draw inspiration for park attractions. They wouldn’t even have to all be “rides” in order to be fun and exciting! So with that in mind, here are some Nintendo attractions that would be pretty mind-blowing if they came to a Universal park near you.
Escape from Planet Zebes
You are strapped into seats and led down a long corridor, with computer-generated images of the vastness of space on the walls. Everything looks serene until the Space Pirates suddenly attack you—and then you are hurdled forward as everything goes black. As you finally come up out of the dark corridor, you emerge into the exotic and dangerous world of Zebes. And underneath you, surrounding the hole from which you came out, is Samus’s crash-landed ship. In other words, you are Samus—and you need to survive this hostile world.
“Escape from Planet Zebes” could be an animatronic heaven. For starters, imagine Geemers skittering across cave walls, or Skrees that plummet down from the ceiling and land right beside you. Then imagine the giant head of Kraid growling at you, or Ridley swooping down toward you like the T. rex in the Jurassic Park ride. There are so many creatures from the Metroid series that could be brought to life in amazing ways here.
And heck, robots or not, just traversing the foreboding abysses, magma caverns, and aquatic areas of Zebes would be pretty awesome. There are so many different ways a ride like this could be executed, and they would all be fantastic. But in my version, the journey has to end with a showdown with Mother Brain in order to get the part you need to fix your ship—and then you have to rush back to your ship before the planet explodes. It’s just the only way that a Metroid ride should end!
Star Fox VR: War for Corneria
Andross is back at it, bombarding Corneria with a force that’s too much for Team Star Fox to handle alone. Thus, you and a few dozen other participants are ushered into your own personal ship cockpits, with a steering wheel that has built-in mechanisms for accelerating and decelerating, laser fire, and bombs. When your hands are used to the wheel, you put on the VR headset—and suddenly you are transported to Corneria, under siege by literally a thousand enemies, fighting alongside Team Star Fox to destroy them all.
Wouldn’t it be crazy for a room of 30-50 people to all be working cooperatively in VR to save a planet? There could be a score counter in the corner of the ship HUD display too, so that there can be a competitive element even though players are working together. The battle could further be punctuated by simultaneous boss battles across the map, encouraging players to break off into different teams to neutralize all the biggest threats before they can cause more damage to the city. Defeating bosses before they damage the city could also increase player score. And of course, in the end it would culminate in a battle with a giant Andross, with a multitude of weak spots that must be hit by many different players in order to put that mad monkey down for good.
Context-sensitive seat rumble and maybe air blowing could enhance the sensation of really being in the thick of air combat. Regular chime-ins from the voice actors for Team Star Fox could add to the authenticity too. Put all together, I feel like a “Star Fox VR: War for Corneria” would be something that people would line up in droves to experience.
Pokémon League Challenger
You and others are shuffled into a small stadium setting at the Pokémon League, where you sit down and put on AR (augmented reality) glasses. Today, a young hopeful named Red is challenging Lance, the leader of the Elite Four, and you have a perfect view of all the action.
Before you know it, digitally-constructed Charizard is flying across the room, doing aerial battle with Dragonite. Some of your favorite Pokémon come to life before your eyes in unprecedented detail, Fire Blasting and Hyper Beaming in incredible displays. Movie theater speakers make all the action feel real as Red and Lance have their climactic confrontation.
Basically, this is Pokémon GO taken to its natural extreme. AR Pokémon take part in beautiful, choreographed battles that leave the audience breathless—simple as that. Kids, and probably some adults, will get back in line to watch this again and again!
There’s nothing clever about this one. It’s just an F-Zero-themed roller coaster where you go stupid fast. Whatever science says is the fastest humans can be whipped around without breaking their necks is the speed this ride should be going at every twist. That’s all this ride needs to do in order to be faithful to F-Zero.
The Mushroom Kingdom
I put this idea so far down the list because it’s such a simple one. When it comes to Super Mario, I don’t ask for much. I just want to be able to walk around a beautiful outdoors place that looks vaguely like World 1-1 from Super Mario Bros., or like any of the settings in Super Mario World. I want to see lumpy, cartoony “mountains” in the distance. I want to see Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Lakitus, and Spinies, whether animatronic or simply as statues for photo ops. I want to just soak in the serenity that is Mario’s world.
But if that’s too boring for you, okay, we can throw in a parkour element. The floors can all be padded, and kids and adults can jump across obstacle courses made of yellow blocks and maybe climb a flag pole. Don’t forget to wear your Chargin’ Chuck helmet!
This is a goofy one to end on, but you’re going to get hungry after you finish escaping Zebes and saving Corneria, right? A Kirby Café could house foods that relate not only to the Kirby series but to all of Nintendo’s properties. Think of all the silly foods and beverages you could devour:
- Mario and Luigi’s authentic, secret recipe Italian pasta (with mushrooms, of course)
- Wario and Waluigi’s inauthentic, still delicious Italian pizza (with or without mushrooms)
- Koopa Troopa soup (maybe not made from actual turtles)
- Donkey Kong banana splits
- Little Mac fruit punch
- Goose jet fuel (probably something Doctor Pepper-tasting)
- Kirby cotton candy
- Octorok on a stick (either actual squid, or just a gummy-shaped dessert)
- Goron rocks (chocolate brownies, probably)
- Garbage can hamburgers with fuzzy pickles (served with a trash can lid to pull off of the dish!)
The possibilities are limitless. They could keep a few key dishes year-round and cycle out the rest, to keep the menu fresh and exciting across seasons.
While writing this article, I learned that “Kirby Café” is a thing that actually existed briefly in Japan, and it’s poised to return this month. So I guess this idea isn’t too wild after all?
What other Nintendo attractions do you want?
There are big Nintendo franchises I did not address in this article, and that is for two reasons. One, the article would get way too long. And two—I’m not sure myself what I want to see from some Nintendo attractions. What do I want to see in a Zelda attraction? I don’t know yet!
So please, help me out in the comments. Tell me which of my ideas you think are cool, and which ideas of your own you would add to the mix. Then let’s forward these ideas to Nintendo and Universal to make them a reality!
Proofs Editor for Enthusiast Gaming. I’m a writer who loves Super Nintendo and Japanese role-playing games to an impractical degree. I have recently returned from living in South Korea.