The wizards at Universal Creative have built a theme park wonder that seamlessly blends old and new with Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge at Universal Studios Hollywood.
I rode the augmented reality dark ride several times on the first day of technical rehearsals at the Movie Theme Park on Thursday, January 12th and found the new attraction in the video game-inspired land of Super Nintendo World delightfully fun and creative.
The pre-opening will continue on select days at random times until the country officially opens on February 17th. The preview for pass holders starts on January 29th.
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What struck me most was how Universal combined physical sets and huge video screens with gameplay and augmented reality on the cutting-edge new Mario Kart ride.
If you’ve never played around with AR before, you’ll be delighted. Thanks to the AR glasses worn by every driver, digital race cars and video games magically appear in front of you on the track.
Take off the AR glasses while driving and the digital cars and bounties will disappear. I did this on my second trip to admire the handy sets and mega video screens without the distracting video game action.
Unlike Disney’s Toy Story Midway Mania, which switches the entire ride to video screens, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge would be an amazing ride without all the AR and video game bells and whistles. The sets are rich in detail and built on a scale that makes you feel like you’re speeding through a video game.
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I’m not a video game junkie, but I love a challenge and I never miss an opportunity to play – especially when someone is counting. I’ve scored under 100 on every one of my rides – OK for a beginner, but pretty bad for anyone with a worn out game console at home.
Universal Creative Vice President Jon Corfino has driven the new Mario Kart attraction more than 200 times and knows all the high score secrets. His best result: 199.
The all-time highest score — at least on the first day of official recording at Universal Studios Hollywood — was 299. Expect this to increase as serious gamers make repeat rides.
And that’s the point of Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge – to keep you coming back for more. And bring your gamer friends along for a showdown.
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What will surprise most drivers is the freezing slow pace of Bowser’s Challenge. It’s a dark ride, after all, moving at the leisurely pace of Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters.
I appreciate the slower speed that lets you enjoy all the scenery and gives you time to earn more points. There is a lot going on at Bowser’s Challenge and any faster pace would make it difficult to absorb everything.
The racing car ride also lacks a traditional head-to-head race against other drivers. You compete against a virtual Bowser – and in the end a winner is chosen. Anyone expecting a high-speed finale from Radiator Springs Racers will be disappointed.
Even without the max revs, I found the finale to be the best part of Bowser’s Challenge. At the Rainbow Road finale, it feels like you’re suddenly going twice as fast – even though you haven’t put your foot on the accelerator at all.
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Traditionalists who prefer dark, old-school rides over the video game-style shoot-’em-up attractions that dominate the market can also enjoy Bowser’s Challenge – by simply taking off the AR goggles. The intricate and creative physical sets are stunningly beautiful – and Universal has been modest in its use of the ubiquitous giant curved video screens that now seem to be a part of every modern dark ride.
I took off my AR glasses briefly during a drive – just to look at the scenery – but I probably won’t do it again. You miss half the fun if you sit out the gameplay. All in all, most drivers will jump into the Mario Kart series for the AR wizardry – which is cleverly done, easy to learn and doesn’t disappoint.
The goal of the game is to collect as many gold coins as possible by throwing grenades at AR targets while driving. The novel innovation: You aim with the visor on your head and fire with the buttons on the steering wheel.
However, easy to learn doesn’t mean easy to master, making the ride irresistibly repeatable. Like any good game, Bowser’s Challenge is littered with Easter eggs that are worth tons of bonus points.
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/12/i-rode-the-new-mario-kart-ride-at-universal-studios-hollywood-heres-what-its-like/ I rode the new Mario Kart ride at Universal Studios Hollywood – here’s what it looks like – Orange County Register