Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ten Nintendo-Themed Attractions I Want to See at Universal Studios

The rides, amenities and spectacles that should definitely be a part of the new partnership.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the Big N it will be partnering with Universal Studios in something of a mega-merger between outmoded properties that have somehow outlived their respective cultural relevancy for decades. While details on the ultimate outcome of this arrangement have yet to be finalized or publicized, it’s a pretty safe bet that the end result will resemble something quite similar to the Wii-U launch offering “Nintendo Land,” which was basically just a shittier version of “Rollercoaster Tycoon,” but with way more Star Fox imagery and really underwhelming mini-games. Alas, the core concept certainly has some potential, and if given the proper approach and implementation, some of the new Nintendo-branded attractions could be downright awesome.

So, what kind of Nintendo-related things do I want to see at Universal Studios? Well, here's a quick listing of ten attractions that would get me hauling a-double-s to Orlando in a hurry...

Real Life Mario Kart!

As soon as I heard about the partnership, this was the first thing that entered my mind; it’s the most obvious thing in the world, and a draw that would probably get the Nintendo-weaned masses to flock to Universal Studios all by itself. Just about every theme park has some kind of go-cart attraction, but only Universal can license an actual Mario Kart ride. I don’t care if they have to shut down Harry Potter World to pay for it, but with this kind of intellectual property in their lap, they simply HAVE to go all out. Oh, that’s right, I want huge soundstage courses, complete with goddamn drain pipes just jutting out of the middle of the course, and I want a ton of ramps, mounds and cannons to jump over. And if there aren’t some gigantic gophers waiting to greet me when I veer off course, there’s going to be complaints a plenty. Granted, I am not entirely sure how all of this would be pieced together, or even if the technology currently exists to make it a reality, but by golly, my life just won’t be complete until I LITERALLY shoot a heat seeking turtle shell at somebody, or watch one of my loved ones flip over 18 times after running over a banana peel. The lawyers at Universal may be a little hesitant on this one, but take my word for it; I, and millions of others all around the world, would gladly sign off on a no-liability, wrongful-death immunity waiver if it meant we got to tear ass around a real Rainbow Road just once.

 Live-Action Donkey Kong!

Next to “Pac-Man,” there probably isn’t a more recognizable gaming mechanic than the one featured in “Donkey Kong.” You start at the beginning of a construction site and work your way up to the top, avoiding barrels and using a sledgehammer to beat the shit out of things. It’s so simple and so undeniably appealing, like warm sunshine in spring or an unexpected blowjob from the missus, just because. As an attraction, I figured Universal could set up some kind of “Ninja Warrior”/“Nickelodeon GUTS” type of sound stage, where they put you in a helmet and some rock climbing cords and allow you to literally traverse your way up a replica of the iconic arcade game’s first stage. The goal, of course, would be to travel all the way to the top of the six or seven story frame, all the while avoiding obstacles and hazards. And shit, all Universal really has to do here is dust off the old “King Kong” robot and half the work is done for them.

Kid Icarus: The Ride!

I’m not really sure what the attraction itself would consist of, but this much, I know: the line for this thing would take forever.

The Nintendo House of Revisionism!

How about a museum dedicated to all of the inconvenient truths of the past that Nintendo and their fan boys have ever-so-graciously swept under the rugs of history? Marvel at the 16-bit wars wing, which completely omits software sales from 1991 to 1994, and the Hall of Rare, in which all of the games that were endlessly praised on the SNES and N64 are remembered as being overrated, formulaic shit in hindsight. Those seeking some suspicious historical claims will learn that the Virtua Boy was actually ahead of its time, that GBA connectivity really was a smarter investment than functional online gaming and that "friend codes" were a stroke of marketing genius. And boy oh boy, just wait until you make it to the Wii-U hardware sales spin-a-rama exhibit, and a hands-on-gallery evaluating the company’s human rights track record!

The Urban Champion Experience!

While the NES game “Urban Champion” is largely remembered as one of the worst Nintendo-produced titles ever, the premise behind the game is certainly intriguing: a bunch of ruffians pummel each other outside a high-rise, conveniently pretending to whistle whenever the po-po drive by and periodically getting bonked on the head by potted plants dropped out of windows by elderly shut-ins. Naturally, this lends itself perfectly to a family-friendly stage spectacle -- just imagine the cheers from both the young and the young-at-heart alike when the first street urchin gets dropkicked down a manhole!

The Legend of Zelda De-Mystifier!

It sure can get hot in Orlando during the summer months, so why not give patrons an opportunity to chill out with this unique, “Zelda”-branded amenity? Visitors can escape the hot sun and get a refreshing blast of misty water, all the while being reminded that “StarTropics” and “Crystalis” were way better versions of the first game, that “Link” on the NES was utter shit, and that a whole host of 16-bit action-adventure games -- including “Secret of Mana,” “Terranigma” and even “Crusader of Centy” on the Genesis -- basically did everything “A Link to the Past” did, except better.

The Super Mario Sunshine Fun Zone!

Hey, remember how excited we all got when “Mario 128” was first demoed? Do you also remember how terrible you felt when that morphed into “Super Mario Sunshine,” and you paid $50 bucks American for a virtual janitorial simulator? Well, the Super Mario Sunshine Fun Zone allows children of all ages to relive ALL of the whimsy and excitement of the super-disappointing GC title, with attendees being fitted with custom-designed FLUDD packs of their own and set out on a dizzying array of fun adventures, including “cleaning up shit at Harry Potter World,” “washing the windows at the Kwik-E-Mart,” and of course, “emptying out the trash bins next to the Jaws ride.” It’s good, cleaning fun for the whole family, and it keeps Universal Studios from having to hire another Cuban migrant to do menial labor!

The Pokemon Live Challenge ... presented by PETA!

Who wouldn't want to witness the sheer whimsy and magic of a LIVE-ACTION Poke-battle (outside of those who don't have autism spectrum disorders?) The Pokemon live challenge would bring all the wonders of the famous video game series/cartoon that gives people seizures to life, through extravagant sets, Hollywood-quality costumes and of course, plenty of state-of-the-art optical illusions. But then, right before Pikachu is set to square off against Jigglypuff, a small platoon of protesters swarm the battleground, decrying Poke-battles as cruel, inhumane and illegal blood sports no different than dog-fighting. For the next 20 minutes, vivid, extremely disturbing photographs of malnourished puppies and kitties are displayed on screen, while Sarah McLaughlin singles are blasted at full volume. For the grand finale, members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals actually go out into the audience and chide individuals for eating hot dogs -- certainly, it's the type of experience no youngster will ever forget.

The Minus World Spectacular!

A tribute to the legendary “glitch” from the first “Super Mario Bros.” game, this aquatic themed ride would put visitors on a synthetic underwater journey, where they will encounter a number of iconic Mushroom Kingdom villains, such as the puffer fish and squid enemies, up close and personal. And just like the infamous “minus world” in the video game, the ride itself will continue indefinitely, until patrons decide to storm the control booth and shut the goddamn thing off for good.

The Wizard Meta-Experience!

Of course, how could a Nintendo and Universal Studios joint project exist without an oblique nod to the two companies' first ill-fated partnership? In The Wizard Meta-Experience, you fill the shoes of Fred Savage, as you hectically scramble through a virtual recreation of Universal Studios, circa 1989, to find your idiot savant brother. Along the way, you'll have to use your wits to outsmart a callous Child Protective Services representative (the key is to falsely accuse him of a sex crime against a minor, which results in his near-fatal pummeling at the hands of truck drivers!) and scramble past the stage of Video Armageddon, which for some reason, has been ret-conned to display nothing but advertisements for "Splatoon." After a thrilling conclusion involving a giant Mattel Power Glove leaping out at you like in the "Spider-Man" ride, the thrilling attraction wraps up with you and your fellow riders just ambling through the California desert, wondering just who in the fuck could have ever thought such was a sensible and worthwhile marketing decision.


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