Universal Studios Japan has announced many new details for the very first Super Nintendo World, opening this summer. Details about the interactive elements for the land, including how guests will be able to use a special wristband and mobile app to collect coins by interacting with objects in the land, was one of the key points during the presentation.
A new music video and some promotional images were shown during the event as well, but, no new information for the upcoming land’s rides were revealed. So, while the internet is hyped for the opening of this new theme park land at Universal Studios Japan, (and other Universal parks after,) there’s still a lot we do not have any official details on. Let’s go over all of the new information we learned from this announcement, and attempt to separate fact from the fiction when it comes to rumors about the Power Up Band.
First, let’s go over the basics. While they did not elaborate on any of the rides or other experiences that will be found within the land, they did at least mention them. They also reiterated where all of the Super Nintendo World lands will be built around the world. See this first paragraph from the official press release below for an overview of the area.
SUPER NINTENDO WORLD will be an expansive, highly themed and immersive land featuring Nintendo’s legendary worlds, characters and adventures. Guests will feel as if they are playing inside their favorite Nintendo video games – in real life. It will be filled with incredibly fun rides, shops, a restaurant and interactive gameplay throughout the land. And there will be something for everyone, regardless of age or gaming experience. Universal Studios Japan will be the first Universal theme park to feature SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, followed by Universal theme parks in Hollywood, Orlando and Singapore.
Power Up Bands
Immediately following the basics, the announcement jumped right into the interactive features for the land. While Tom Williams, CEO of Universal Parks, was the first to describe the wristbands for the land back in September of last year, this was the first time we’ve received the official name and photographs of the Power Up Bands — as well as an actual description of how they will work.
Universal says that the technology will bring the world of Nintendo to life in a whole new way for guests, “using a combination of state-of-the-art technology – a wearable wrist band called a Power Up Band – and a specially designed app.” Guests will be able to have interactive experiences throughout the land, making use of their arms, hands, and entire bodies as they explore, making them feel like they are truly in a video game.
One of the early assumptions we made on the internet, back when rumors of a wearable band started circulating, was that every guest entering the land would receive a band for free. That does not appear to be the case. Even the official press release from last night’s announcement includes this phrase: “Guests can download the Universal Studios Japan app on their smartphones and link it to a Power Up Band that can be purchased in SUPER NINTENDO WORLD to enhance their experience.” (Emphasis added by me.)
The Power Up Bands appear to be a rubber wrapped slap bracelet, with a character puck in the middle to hold the necessary communication technology. One of the benefits of offering the Power Up Bands for sale only, is that guests can select a band that features their favorite character or logo from the video games, personalizing their experience. Another benefit, is that the land itself is not wholly built around guests required to use the bands. Power Up Bands are completely optional.
Let’s get into what the Power Up Bands can (and cannot) do. While wearing the band guests can collect digital coins, “just like Mario does in the games.” Guests will be able to compete with other guests to see who collected the most coins, as well as participate in other friendly competitions. There will be “character stamps” that guests can earn by achieving various goals around the land, and it appears that a map feature on the mobile app will allow you to help locate them all.
I spoke previously about what these interactive elements for the land might entail in a video podcast back in November. On it I mentioned how technology companies were working to create mini-games that would be placed within the land, some that would even allow multiple guests to work together. It was confirmed that there will be multi-player experiences: “By collecting a certain number of digital keys, guests can cooperate with other guests who also have keys to unlock additional gameplay opportunities, including Boss Battles against various enemy characters.” If you’re interested in hearing more, check out this video from 12:35 to 20:00.
A feature that was shown off for the media during the event was the ability for guests to hit a Question Mark brick to collect a coin. Bricks like these will be scattered throughout the land, and only guests wearing a Power Up Band will be able to interact with them (and get a response). Tapping your wrist to the block would be sufficient, but it looks like you’ll be encouraged to jump up and punch that block! There will be plenty of other interactive areas that will only be activated by wearing your Power Up Band as well.
Even though it adds a lot of unique functionality and interactivity to the land, I do want to mention again that Power Up Bands, and the mobile app, are not required to experience Super Nintendo World. Guests will not be required to purchase a band. Guests will not be required to have a band to experience the rides. A comparison I would make is that these Power Up Bands are more like the interactive wands in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter than the MagicBands of Walt Disney World.
Those of us that reside in Central Florida are used to seeing things like MagicBands at Walt Disney World and TapuTapu at Universal’s Volcano Bay. While those wearables do offer some interactive functions (especially TapuTapu which can activate special effects throughout Volcano Bay,) their main functions are more utilitarian. MagicBands can be used as park tickets and to open the door at your hotel. TapuTapu can be used to reserve your spot in virtual line and make cash-free payments at the water park. The Power Up Band is solely for interactive play within Super Nintendo World, and that’s it.
While it was not announced during the press event, the Power Up Bands, along with the mobile app technology, is also expected to keep your scores from the land’s attractions. This would be similar to the way the Disney Parks Play app can record your credits earned from flying the Millennium Falcon on Smugglers Run in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Hopefully we will receive more information on this at a later time. And just like that ride at Disney parks, using the app to record your results will not be required to enjoy rides like Mario Kart — it’s just an extra added feature that will be completely optional.
Thierry Coup, the Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Universal Creative, said, “Think of SUPER NINTENDO WORLD as a life-size, living video game where you become one of the characters. You’re not just playing the game; you’re living the game, you’re living the adventure.”
In addition to details on the Power Up Band, a music video for “We Are Born to Play” by Galantis featuring Charli XCX was released. It showcases the feeling Universal and Nintendo want us to experience while exploring Super Nintendo World. It also features a few glimpses into some real things from the land, including how our Power Up Bands will pair with the app, (and what appears to be a brief shot of the ride vehicles for the Mario Kart ride at 1:56).
We’ve been talking about Super Nintendo World here at ParkStop for several years now, and it looks like it is finally getting close to the first grand opening. While the official line is the land will be opening this summer, they did say during the press event that more details will be revealed in February at an event in New York. We should also get more news about the lands being built in Hollywood, Orlando, and Singapore by then as well. And it should be noted that all of the above information is specifically for the land in Universal Studios Japan, and things could change by the time the lands open stateside.
For a complete breakdown of the Mario Kart ride, check out our recent article and video. To learn more about how the land will look at Universal’s Epic Universe in Orlando, see our story about the recently filed permits. And for a breakdown of where everything will be located in the land, check out our story featuring the official concept art for Super Nintendo World. And be sure to subscribe to our news feed for continuing coverage of this land as we get close to the grand opening!
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