Is the Power-Up Band at Super Nintendo World worth it?

After much anticipation, Super Nintendo World finally opened its doors at Universal Studios Hollywood on Friday. With it comes a brand new, state-of-the-art Mario Kart ride, Toad’s impressively themed (and delicious) restaurant and an interactive land full of secrets, keys and coins. And to lay claim to many of those secrets (and coins), you’ve first got to purchase the Power-Up Band.

It snaps onto your wrist, is available in six different “characters”, and Nintendo fans are going to love the design. But this isn’t just an accessory – it’s the controller to the game that sits within Super Nintendo World. And it even has value that extends outside the park.

But, is it worth the $40 price tag? We spent a couple of days with one in Hollywood to find out…

At its heart, the Power-Up Band is designed to help you interact with Super Nintendo World, and “beat” the game that sits within it. It permits you to collect coins and keys throughout the “World” by hitting bricks (with your hands, not with the Band itself), playing Mario Kart in the innovative AR experience, and playing a number of mini-games.

To keep track of your score, and to see keys what you have left to unlock, you can connect it to the Universal Studios Hollywood mobile app via QR code on the back. Or, you can tap your Band on one of the screens in the land to see how you’re fairing, and where you and your team (based around the character you chose) are ranking for the day.

Once you win three of the four keys hidden around the land (easily found via the map in the app), you’re able to “unlock” the final round, where you fight Bowser Jr. to retrieve the Golden Mushroom. Honestly, as impressive as the AR Mario Kart experience is, this may be my favourite part of the land, as you jump to collect power ups, swat Bob-ombs out of the way, shoot fire at your enemies and yes – get some more coins along the way.

Another feature of having the Band? You can literally “level up” in the mini-games. Did you get all the keys, collect the Golden Mushroom and think it was too easy? Using the same Power-Up Band, you’re able to return to the challenges, and play “Hard Mode” on all of them!

You’re not going to get any access to anything special for getting all of the keys in hard mode (as far as we know), but you’ll be rewarded through the app. And I’m sure you’ll feel pretty good for achieving it, too.

While it’s worth the purchase to access the Bowser Jr. battle alone, it’s important to note that not everyone in your group or family will need one to be able to experience these games. I would hazard a guess to say that this hack has been designed with parents in mind; essentially granting parents access to the same experiences as their kids.

And you’ll only need to purchase the Power-Up Band once. You can use it every time you come back to the park, to continue to work on your score. And you can even use it at the Japanese park! Though your points won’t be combined; you’ll have to use a separate Universal Studios Japan app. And as Super Nintendo Worlds open in Orlando and Singapore in the years ahead, we would assume they’ll work there too.

And it’s not just usable at the parks – the Band is also an Amiibo for your Nintendo Switch. So they’ve considered a lot here in terms of adding value to the purchase.

Needless to say, you don’t want to lose your Band after you’ve purchased it. So make sure you put it in a safe place when you get home.

All of this proves a vast upgrade from the optional wands Universal Studios sell in the Harry Potter themed land, which also allows you to interact with certain parts of The Wizarding World. But outside of there, they offer little practical purpose. Nonetheless, they also keep the kids happy – especially if they went through the experience of having a wand chosen for them, which is certainly one of the interactive highlights of that part of the park. But it’s inarguable that these Bands are better value.

Final Verdict

With literal replay value both in the Hollywood and Japan, and the Amiibo add on for your Nintendo Switch, the Power-Up Band is more than just a one-off add on for the park – it’s a device you’ll want to hang on to, play with at home, and use again at the parks. After spending a day here, you’ll absolutely want to come back and get all those high scores.

And with future Super Nintendo World expansion in Singapore and Orlando, as well as with the addition of the Donkey Kong coaster in Japan, expect to have ample opportunities around the world to use it.

So yes, this is worth the purchase! However, not everyone in your party needs one to take part in the in-park experience. And at the end of the day, accessing that experience is what the Band is all about – one undoubtedly worth the extra few bucks to take part in – for the Bowser Jr. battle alone.

Super Nintendo World is open now at Universal Studios Hollywood. For tickets and more details head HERE.

The author visited Super Nintendo World as a guest of Universal Studios Hollywood. Headline photo supplied by Universal Studios Hollywood. All other photos by Larry Heath.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.