The first batch of LEGO Super Mario sets was released over a year ago, dropping some expansion sets every few months, with recently seeing the addition of LEGO Luigi. For Nintendo fans alike, it seems an interesting collaboration as it is essentially a real-life Mario Maker. Using the different sets, you can create your own level to navigate Mario through to reach the end flag goal, like in 2D Mario gameplay. Although there is no remote, as you hold Mario with your hand, so some imagination is needed. For my birthday this year, my friends got me some sets which gives ample chance to explore what it is about.
LEGO Super Mario Figure
Let’s start by looking at Mario himself. Sure he is a bit clunky which visually may put people off but it makes him easier to hold as you navigate him through the level. Of course, he needs it to hold the AAA batteries to power him which is the real reason for his size but if he was thinner it would cause grip issues, particularly for children. When just powered on his eyes will move and may say stuff, the real fun is interaction with the sets. At Mario’s feet there is a reader which can detect a few different things. First is what colour the tile below is, allowing Mario to act accordingly, such as red is lava so he will cry out and even added the burn sound FX from the game. Second, enemies, coin boxes and special events have a sort of barcode which it scans so Mario can react as if in-game such as hitting coin boxes or jumping on enemies causing a coin noise, etc. The main barcode comes with the starter pack which starts the 60-second timer on Mario’s chest. If you get to the end in time the victory jingle will play and if not the loss jingle. Even though it is as you expect, it is still sure to please. It is surprising how well it brings the game to life.
Quality of Sets
There is a range of sets, varying in size and price points. Admittedly what put me off originally was worrying they were overpriced, however, they are a good value for money. It is deceptive based on how barebones it feels as a thin and long tile joins each section together. However the features are intricately designed, with some complexity that will satisfy older builders. This is also helped by the lack of stickers involved. All the detail pieces (such as character eyes, signs, etc) have been printed onto the LEGO bricks already which allows a focus on building. This goes for the smaller and larger sets alike and LEGO have done a good job at pricing it at the correct level for each particular set.
Each set has a particular feature that functions as a unique mechanic to spice up the level you choose to make. It can contain spinning elements, such as the Bullet Bill set, or levers to cause things to fly up in the air such as the Chain Chomper set. Mixing up the features allows for a range of fun levels, even without buying the massive boss level sets. All working together to replicate the Mario experience well, but also create new experiences that work better in a physical setting. It is very easy to connect the different sets together using the plank-like tiles to go between each set. It allows for infinite combinations and there is nothing stopping you from using any other LEGO to build it up further.
If that wasn’t enough, there are also little blind booster bags containing a random enemy to mix up the levels further. Standard sets only tend to come with one or two enemies making it worth purchasing these. Still these are reasonably priced and have a hidden perk that it isn’t so bad getting repeats as you can have more of the same enemy on a level. Finally a no-risk blind pack!
LEGO Super Mario App
As part of the LEGO Super Mario experience, on your phone or tablet, there is an app that works alongside the LEGO Super Mario figure himself. It has a few functions such as weekly challenges, sharing photos of custom courses, but the main function is to provide instructions for the sets. Personally, it is conflicting as it does save paper and admittedly makes it easier to build through being able to interact with the model by rotating it in the instructions, but if you don’t have a phone or tablet you won’t be able to build it. Particularly as for me, building LEGO is a way for me to not look at screens for a while but this made me keep looking at a screen. Still guess it saves the environment in the long run.
Overall if you are a LEGO and Mario fan, the LEGO Super Mario range is something you should look into. Each set is worth the price point and can create a bit of offline fun if you want to avoid screens for a bit of time, or even to create some display pieces in your home. Admittedly though, it will cost you quite a bit but as long as you focus in on the sets you want, it most likely won’t be too much of a burden on your wallet.