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Hands-on review: LEGO Super Mario

16 Jun 2020

You’ve never seen Mario quite like this before. He’s cute, blocky, and full of "yahoo"! The range of LEGO Super Mario options is huge – see the full range here.

For this review, we’re using the Starter Pack, the Piranha Plant Power Slide Expansion Set, Boomer Bill Barrage Expansion Set, Toad’s Treasure Hunt Expansion Set, a Cat Mario Power Up Pack, and one blind bag character pack. In total, there are 16 sets to choose from.

  • Disclaimer – the blue baseplates shown here are sold separately
  • Disclaimer 2 – this particular level design is the work of an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO).  Level results may vary depending on how dedicated your kids (and adults) are!

How to play the game

The premise of the game is simple: Build your own levels from a set start and end point, say hi to Mario’s friends, defeat enemies, score powerups, and try to complete your levels in 60 seconds (or 90 seconds if you happen to score extra time from the time blocks)!

In a way, this is an alternative (and very much hands-on) take of Super Mario Maker.

You might wonder from our setup above if it’s possible to do everything in 90 seconds – perhaps kids might struggle but for my 'kidult' other half, he managed to complete it with time to spare. Throw in some of the additional sets, and you might find yourself in a bit of a hurry – Mario’s tune will tell you as much!

How does Mario do it? Mario runs on AAA battery power (batteries not included). He has a gyroscope to detect movement like walking, jumping, and flipping. 

Mario includes an optical sensor that reads special tiles, which tell him what you’re doing. This technology is a bit different to other technologies LEGO has used in the past like in LEGO Dimensions, where RFID was a big part of the console-based gameplay. LEGO Super Mario has no console elements whatsoever.

There’s a colourful barcode for the start and finish points. Different enemies have different patterns, and when you defeat them, Mario is awarded coins. Some enemies aren’t so easy to defeat, and you might just need a powerup. Points and powerups are all displayed on Mario's chest.

Mario recognises colours like red (lava), blue (water), yellow (sand), and green (grass). You can also use LEGO from your own collection to create more interesting levels.

The worst thing that can happen in this game is that you run out of time, resulting in a sad Mario. He doesn’t die, although he does happen to wince if you land on lava…his expressions are super adorable.

When we talked to LEGO’s Jonathan Bennink, he mentioned that there’s no right and wrong way to win the game – it really is up to your imagination. He's exactly right - you start to learn the mechanics of gameplay as you play through the levels.

At the end of the game, Mario tallies up your score and displays it in a little panel on his chest. The app will also keep track of the total score from all of your games.

Collect enough sets and you’ll soon have a bunch of your favourite characters like Toad, Toadette, Shy Guy, Boo, Bowser Jr, and if you’re into the ultimate boss, definitely check out the Bowser’s Castle expansion.

Costume packs give Mario different abilities – we received Cat Mario, which means he can climb up walls. The Propeller Mario pack allows him to fly.

Mario fans will love the finer details

Dedicated Mario fans will be thrilled with some of the little touches, like common catchphrases, and even the right sound effects when he triple-jumps or flips.  If you leave him lying down and unattended, you might come back to find that he has fallen asleep – and what a snorer he is!

Don’t forget the LEGO Super Mario app! 

You will probably need to pair your Mario with your Android or iOS device through Bluetooth to make sure he’s up-to-date and understands all the obstacles he’s going to face in your levels.

This app is essential for registering and building your sets, as well as keeping track of your scores.

When you add different sets, new worlds appear in your app.

These worlds give you access to digital building instructions with 3D rotation, videos demonstrating key moves...

There's also a menu that shows your total coins from games, and Mario's remaining battery life.

You can even take photos of your levels and store them for future reference, or you can share your builds in a community LEGO gallery if you like!

Verdict

This is an ambitious and clever collaboration between Nintendo and LEGO, encouraging kids and adults alike to bring Mario into the real world.

LEGO has always encouraged creativity and bringing imagination to life.

Kids will love the colourful gameplay and Mario’s crazy adventures, adults will no doubt love how these sets keep the kids occupied, while Mario fans and LEGO collectors will love how these sets look in some wicked displays.

If there’s a Mario fan in your household, we highly recommend these LEGO sets when they appear in stores on 1 August.

Super Mario Starter Packs are also available for pre-order now.