Nintendo, Universal team up for theme park attractions

Nintendo and Universal team up
Nintendo and Universal team up

Step aside Spider-Man. Move over Minions. Mario & Co. are coming to Universal Theme Parks.

Nintendo and Comcast-owned Universal Parks and Resorts have announced a partnership that will bring the video-game company's extensive collection of characters to the popular resorts in the form of Nintendo-themed rides and character appearances. (Comcast is CNBC's parent company.)

"Universal theme parks offer incredibly popular, innovative themed family entertainment experiences based on compelling stories and characters," the companies said in a statement. "Nintendo has created remarkable and imaginative worlds filled with captivating stories and beloved characters. Now, for the first time, those stories and characters will be brought to life in entirely new ways."

The companies declined to discuss details of the arrangement, but it's a significant expansion for Nintendo, which has been stretching beyond the traditional video-game world over the past year and increasingly partnering with other companies, something it had been reticent to do.

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Universal has theme parks in Orlando, Florida, Hollywood, Singapore and Japan. It's not clear if all parks will be getting the Nintendo-themed attractions.

The well-known and family-friendly Nintendo characters could be a strong draw for Universal, though, which has recently been competing more aggressively with Disney's theme park operations. Five years ago, the Orlando park opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and it has regularly expanded the attraction.

The games Nintendo is most famous for lend themselves well to theme park attractions. Last year at South by Southwest, for instance, Nintendo and Pennzoil teamed up to create a live-action "Mario Kart". "Luigi's Mansion" could make for an interactive haunted house that's not too scary for kids. And the "Star Fox" series could easily supply the setting for a thrill ride.

The announcement comes just two months after Nintendo announced a partnership with Japanese mobile giant DeNA to bring games featuring its characters to Android and iOS mobile devices.

That deal was particularly noteworthy, given Nintendo President Satoru Iwata's past strong resistance to moving into the mobile category. Four years ago, in fact, he famously vilified mobile platforms, in a keynote address at the Game Developer's Conference.

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"Smartphones and social network platforms are not at all like our (industry)," he said at the time. "These verticals have no motivation to maintain the high value of video games. For them, content is something that is created by someone else. Quantity is what makes the money for them. Quantity is how they profit. The quality of video game software does not matter to them. … The fact is, what we produce has value and we should protect that value."

And though rumors this year of a Netflix-produced live-action series based on "The Legend of Zelda" were shot down, the company, in its just-released earnings statement, hinted that it is open to producing video content based on its characters as well.

"For Nintendo IP, a more active approach will be taken in areas outside the video game business, including visual content production and character merchandising," the company said.

The flurry of announcements comes as Nintendo reported a net profit of 41.8 billion yen ($350 million) for the fiscal year, topping its own forecast and reversing the losses of fiscal 2014. Sales of the Wii U home console system continue to lag far behind Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, however.

Disclosure: Universal Parks & Resorts is a division of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.