Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge ride was created in a game engine, will make it easier to update later

Universal Studios Japan Super Nintendo World AR ride game engine Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge

One of the two main rides currently available at Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan is Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, a physical ride that incorporates AR technology to make a real-life Mario Kart experience. How does one plan and develop such an experience? With a game engine, naturally. Via IGN, global executive producer Tom Geraghty explained Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge “was built in a game engine, so while [senior vice president Thierry Coup] was back in the States he could actually drive Mario Kart in a game engine and give us notes in Japan.”

Geraghty further elaborated:

Because it’s in a game engine, we can keep updating, upgrading, putting new characters [in], changing themes, changing actions on the fly. So if there’s a special event, anything we want to release can be done overnight if we really wanted to. That makes it so much more flexible – it freshens up the experience. Every time you come back you could experience something new and exciting.

He even goes on to explain that they built a rendition of Super Nintendo World entirely in VR during the design process, to “get sightlines and figure out where to move elements.” Naturally, the public is not likely to ever receive access to that VR version, as theme parks enjoy making money.

We have cued up a video below to give you a vague idea of what Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge is like at Universal Studios Japan, but it’s important to note that video isn’t capable of capturing the full augmented reality experience.

In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that the the designers would create Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge in a game engine. Universal Studios Orlando, Hollywood, and Singapore will eventually get in on the fun with their own versions of Super Nintendo World, but Orlando will likely be waiting till 2025.


John Friscia
Head Copy Editor for Enthusiast Gaming, Managing Editor at The Escapist. I'm a writer who loves Super Nintendo and Japanese role-playing games to an impractical degree. I really miss living in South Korea. And I'm developing the game Boss Saga!