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Super Nintendo World Challenge NYC event report


It all started with a tweet, beckoning those in the New York area to register for an opportunity to participate in the Super Nintendo World Challenge. The challenge was created to give fans a preview of the experiences that await visitors of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan when the park opens in summer 2020. Eight lucky participants of the challenge will get the full experience as they will have won a travel package to visit the park.

February 19, 2020 was a sunny day in New York City. Those who were lucky to sign up for the event congregated at the southern part of Grand Central Station. Vanderbilt Hall was transformed into a little piece of the Mushroom Kingdom. 5 rows of question blocks were hung around 6 feet off the ground (a short block on a rolling rig was available for people who might not have the vertical leap to hit the standard block, ensuring fans of all ages can play.) waiting to grant prizes for everyone who would hit them. My time slot was at noon, so the event has been going for a couple of hours and prizes have been doled out to dozens of fans already. Signage adorned the check in line, providing the very simple instructions for the event. Once checked in, I was herded off to a waiting area and I watched the group before me take part in the event. There was chatter wondering how many trips have been given out and during the session we watch yet another grand prize was awarded to a lucky fan. Gloves with smartphones were given to all those in the waiting pen and the phones were checked to ensure they are working and ready for the next session. Suddenly the MC beckoned our group to come into the play field and select a block to stand under…our chance was about to start.

The MC went through the script that he has surely repeated several times already. Doing some small talk, it turns out registrants weren’t solely from the Tri-State area, as some participants came from as far as Toronto, Canada and even Japan. Part of the festivities had the crowd mimic Mario’s famous jump pose as we were asked to shout “WE ARE MARIO”. Once the pleasantries were completed, 30 seconds was put on a clock and everyone was told to hit the block as much as possible within the timeframe. After the time as lapse, I was trying to fight back my body’s desire to drop to the floor from exhaustion. I twisted my wrist to see that despite my efforts I collected a paltry 7 coins. The MC queried the group to see who had the most coins and a young lady who was using the shorter block clocked in an impressive 38 coins.

The next portion of the session was prize session, it was where the group would find out what prize they would be taking home. Would it be a pair of Mario gloves, Mario glasses, a shirt which resembled Mario’s red shirt and overalls? Other prices included a Mario hand puppet, a Yoshi hand puppet, a question block keychain that made sounds when a button has been pressed. Everyone however was hoping to see a golden mushroom on their screen as that would signify that they would be Japan bound. When beckoned I mustered my remaining strength to hit the block once more and the icon which appeared on my phone would be…a Yoshi Egg. It appears I would be going home with a Yoshi Hand Puppet. As the reality of my failure to win the trip to Japan sunk in, a shriek was heard several rows behind me. A woman with a silver ponytail was being led to the front, fist raised in victory! It seems someone got the Golden Mushroom. The MC congratulated the woman who identified herself as “Susan from the Bronx” as a novelty check was ushered to Susan and streamers were fired to celebrate her win. The group was asked to gather around for a group photo and asked to exclaim “WE ARE MARIO” once more before being asked to exit the area so it could be prepared for the next group. As we handed novelty gloves to the event staff, a prize ticket was given depending on the prize that was awarded. I then proceeded to collect my prize, merchandise from Super Nintendo World that will not be available to the general public until the summer.

Was it worth it to leave the comforts of my home to jump up and down in one of the world’s busiest train stations? I’m sure it would have been absolutely worth it if I had won the trip, but the Yoshi hand puppet is a nice consolation prize. Fans who were not able to sign up for the event or were within a reasonable distance to participate do not need to lament how unfair life is because as of February 23, 2020 will have an opportunity to win one of two trips to Super Nintendo World by filling out the form here.