What Secrets Are The Leaked Promotional Images for Universal’s Mario Kart Hiding?

You may have seen some promotional images of the new Mario Kart attraction slated to open at Universal Studios Japan recently. Technically, the attraction was supposed to be open by now. However, the pandemic has put a strain on that and it’s unknown when that will happen. The images gives us an idea of what we can expect as well as some unrealistic expectations that are totally false. Let’s dig in!

First, it’s important to understand what these screenshots (part of a promotional video) were intended for. These are rough cuts for a series of Japanese commercial that will air as soon as it’s time to start marketing the upcoming Mario Kart attraction for Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan. We may not actually see these aired until next year at this rate.

For starters, it’s important to understand Japanese marketing, particularly for Universal Studios Japan. To say that these ads are over the top and don’t reflect the finished product is an understatement. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but despite the video above, you will not be sliding down a green tube to enter Super Mario Land.

On the other hand, the ride vehicle is in that same video from above. Here is a screenshot.

Is this what the final product will look like? Absolutely. A 4-seater vehicle with a Mario “M” on the front. Will it hover in mid-air like a trackless vehicle? No, it will not. Think of it closer (in terms of functionality) to a Men In Black 2.0 ride vehicle that can move at slightly faster speeds.

I believe these ride vehicles were created and engineered by Dynamic Attractions. Which may seem odd since they do more unique ride systems than this. As I understand it, originally the ride system was supposed to be much different than what Universal ended up with. This is because the technology behind the ride isn’t in the vehicle motion, it’s in the augmented reality glasses… which are not in the promotional videos.

The true innovation in this ride is the glasses guests will wear on the Mario Kart ride. Essentially, the goggles are designed to let you see the real sets in front of you and yet enhance them by placing a digital image on top of them in real-time as you ride through. This will make the set pieces “pop” as you interact with them.

Notice, no one in these videos are wearing glasses at all. Again, no one said Japanese advertisements are accurate. Instead, you see riders “throwing” turtle shells with their arms. This isn’t how it actually works either. How do the shells get thrown to another vehicle or adversary?

If we go back to the the first image, notice the thumbs of the riders in this image. This shows you how to “throw” things like turtle shells and banana peels in the Mario Kart attraction. Each steering wheel has buttons on it that give you the chance to hurl objects out of your vehicle just like in the video game.

What about each of the four riders getting their own steering wheel? How can four people steer the car at once? Well, they can’t. Just like every row getting handlebars on Hagrid’s Motorbikes, the steering wheels on this ride vehicle are just there for show, but at least that is where the buttons are kept!

Hopefully we will see this open sooner than later in Japan, but I wouldn’t hold your breath for it to be anytime soon. The land and the new attractions will draw huge crowds, which isn’t what the park wants right now. What a strange time we live in.

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