A piece of scenery at Japan’s newly opened Super Nintendo World theme park area appears to draw direct inspiration from an original piece of art created for a fangame.
Twitter user meatball123 was among the first to notice the uncanny similarity after seeing a cactus decoration in the background of a video for the park’s Yoshi’s Adventure ride. The specific three-pronged design of the cactus in that video doesn’t look like anything seen in an official Mario game, but it does match almost precisely the background cacti found in World 2 of Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii, a fan-made mod released in 2013.
Meatball123 also notes that, as of last weekend, the three-pronged cactus sprite appeared prominently when a search for “New Super Mario Bros. Wii cactus” was performed on Google Images, which could explain how the mixup happened. Representatives for Nintendo and Universal Japan have yet to respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica.
Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii was the result of a years-long effort by the fan-developers at Newer Team, who’ve also created a similar mod for the DS version of New Super Mario Bros.. It features new levels, enemies, art, and an original soundtrack that builds on the 2009 Wii original. The mod officially requires a retail copy of the original New Super Mario Bros. Wii to play on a jailbroken Wii or Wii U console, but there are also pre-built ISOs floating around to allow for emulator-based play on a PC.
Super Nintendo World’s apparent use of an original fangame asset takes on some added irony given Nintendo’s strict stance on fangames in general. In recent years, the company has issued numerous DMCA takedown notices for fangames—and even some of the tools used to build them. The cactus discovery also comes a month after a fan found his personal 3D rendering of Mario being used on the Super Nintendo World website.
In a somewhat similar bit of history, there’s some evidence to suggest that the version of Super Mario Bros. available on the Wii Virtual Console was originally sourced from a pirated ROM dump found on the Internet.
In the end, this is probably nothing more than a careless snafu caused by a less-than-scrupulous theme park designer. But it does highlight how the fangame community and more “official” efforts from the IP holders continually feed on each other, as can be seen more directly (and intentionally) in the Sonic fangame community.
Listing image by Universal Park News Today / YouTube