(Pocket-lint) - Lego announced back in March it would be producing interactive Super Mario Lego sets in cahoots with Nintendo.
The full details of the range including detailing the Expansion sets, Power-Up packs and Character Packs were announced a few weeks ago and we've now been playing with a couple of the sets to get a flavour of what the Lego Super Mario experience is like.
All will be available from 1 August, though you can pre-order a number of the sets, including the main Adventures with Mario Starter Course ahead of the launch date.
Be warned though - there are 16 sets in all, and to get the full range will cost you well over $500/£500. However. you should be able to get enough to be getting on with for around $100/£100 - just getting the Starter Course will leave you wanting more as we've quickly found.
The Starter Course
The main set features an interactive Mario figure and although he looks like a piece of Duplo, the Lego version of the Italian plumber stands around 7cm tall and features an LCD display, speakers, accelerometer, colour sensor and Bluetooth connectivity.
Once powered up with two AAA batteries, Lego Mario can connect to an iOS or Android device, although a device isn't needed every time you play. The connectivity element means you can interact with the sets that you build, collect coins, more time, and defeat enemies.
The LCD screens in his eyes, mouth and belly display a wide variety of instant reactions to movement, as well as action bricks, and the speaker pumps out a soundtrack, that famous coin collect sound, and pithy phrases from Mario from time to time; like "Lego Mario Time". It's like the video game coming to life in your hands.
It's surprisingly clever and much more interactive than we were expecting from the pictures we'd seen since the sets were announced.
Lego has also used the app to ditch the printed instruction manuals.
It means you can now rotate the instructions to see where that piece actually goes, as well as playing specific videos to see how the interactive elements of the gameplay work. It's much easier, and our kids preferred it, however, we're sure some will miss the paper manuals.
Beyond using your device for building, you can monitor your collection and share your level creations with friends. When it comes to gameplay, you can record how many coins you've collected and what enemies you've defeated. As we've mentioned, once you've built the elements of the course you don't need the app to play.
Small barcodes on key pieces you build force the Mario to react in certain ways. Land on the barcode in the pipe and the game timer starts. Jump on the barcode on Goomba's back and you get the acknowledged kill. Some play music, others a sound. This, added with the colour sensor, means landing on a red surface is like touching lava and so you die. It's simple but works really well.
"Mario is jumping out of the digital world of game consoles and smart devices, and we are able to bring him into the world with a new, physical type of Mario play," said Takashi Tezuka, Executive Officer and Game Producer at Nintendo and playing with the Starter Course that's certainly the case.
Our kids loved the "interactive" element without the need to feel like you are sat in front of a TV or iPad all the time, and the ability to make your own levels rather than be defined by what Lego suggests is also appealing. This is Lego that once built needs to be played with rather than just sit on a shelf.
And yes, we've now got a strong urge to play Super Mario on a console again for sure.
As we've said, the Starter Course is a good place to start, but it's by no means where you stop. To go alongside the main starter set, Lego and Nintendo are offering a range of different sets at a range of price points to suit multiple options.
The Piranha Plant Power Slide Expansion Set (which we've built) sits somewhere in the middle and offers a slide which uses Mario's in-built gyroscope to monitor whether you're hitting the piranhas while you slide between them.
Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle Expansion Set sits at the top of the pile, comes complete with Bowser to defeat, and is certainly bigger than anything else in the range.
Both are easy to build. Lego has done a great job recreating the experience. We especially liked the Boo that chases you around one of the castle turrets.
71362 - Guarded Fortress Expansion Set
The Guarded Fortress features a buildable fortress, catapult, brick-built water and lava routes and POW Block, plus Bob-omb, Koopa Troopa and Piranha Plant toy figures for LEGO Mario to defeat.
71363 - Desert Pokey Expansion Set
The Desert Pokey Expansion Set features a buildable desert scene, hammer turntable for LEGO Mario to knock down his cactus-like enemy Pokey section by section, plus a Monty Mole figure to defeat and collect virtual coins
71364 – Whomp’s Lava Trouble Expansion Set
Whomp’s Lava Trouble Expansion Set features a sliding platform, Whomp figure guarding a P Switch (found only in this set) and a brick-built, shell-shaped system to topple the Lava Bubble figure.
71365 – Piranha Plant Power Slide Expansion Set
One that we built - the set features a platform on rails on a seesaw with Piranha Plants at either end to avoid, a Time Block to earn extra time on the course for LEGO Mario, plus Goomba and Koopa Troopa figures to defeat.
71366 – Boomer Bill Barrage Expansion Set
The Boomer Bill Barrage Expansion Set features a spinner with two ‘flying’ Boomer Bill figures and a rotating platform with two difficulty levels (with or without studs) to master. There's also an enemy Shy Guy figure and a Super Mushroom boost the gameplay options if you've not been lucky to find them in one of the "?" boxes elsewhere.
71367 – Mario’s House & Yoshi Expansion Set
If you want to have a bit of chill time during the game, this set features a buildable house with an opening door and roof with a Super Star Block underneath. There's a hammock to rock LEGO Mario to sleep, plus Yoshi and Goomba toy figures to interact with and win coins.
71368 – Toad’s Treasure Hunt Expansion Set
One of the bigger sets in the range, it features cute Toad and Toadette toy figures, two Cheep Cheeps and a Goomba. A bridge and sliding and rotating platforms must be overcome to get to the 1, 2, 3 Blocks in the Toad Houses, the tree and a treasure chest.
71369 – Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle Expansion Set
The biggest set in the range so far, this castle toy playset features towers with rotating and shaking platforms, flippers to raise Bowser's arms and access the "?" Block and Time Block, a shaking bridge, plus Bowser, Boo, Dry Bones and Lava Bubble figures. It's great fun to build and watch Bowser fall off - eventually - when you challenge him.
71376 - Thwomp Drop Expansion Set
Not available everywhere, this playset features a sliding platform for LEGO Mario with two balance difficulty options, a Thwomp and two Lava Bubble figures, plus a Lava Bubble flipping function.
71377 - King Boo and the Haunted Yard Expansion Set
Also another set that isn't going to be available everywhere, this set, features King Boo, two Goombas and four Swoop figures.
Additional characters will be available for $5/£3.49 but will be blind bags in a similar way to the Lego Minifigures series so you won't be able to just go out and buy these in one go. Series 1 features a range of characters, and we expect this to spawn a number of "series sets" in future in a similar way to the current Lego Minifigure offering that have been available for a number of years.
Each pack will contain a buildable character and action tag to play with – it could be a Paragoomba, Fuzzy, Spiny, Buzzy Beetle, Bullet Bill, Bob-omb, Eep Cheep, Blooper, Urchin or Peepa.
There are several Power-Up Packs that will be available for $9.99/£8.99. The power packs - which are essentially different outfits for Lego Mario give you certain powers when you play.
71370 - Fire Mario Power-Up Pack
When Mario is powered up with this suit, he can gain Fire Attack power - a new way to attack enemies and collect extra coins.
Propeller Mario Power-Up Pack (71371)
Propeller sounds are triggered when players dress Mario in this suit and make him ‘fly’ to try and win coins. The propeller suit allows Mario to take to the skies, making new sounds as he soars through the air and collects coins. Take Mario on an action-packed flight and turn your living room into a giant Lego Super Mario level!
Cat Mario Power-Up Pack (71372)
This suit gives Mario cat-like skills. Dress him in the special trousers and cap and he’ll start to meow and purr. Wearing this suit gives Cat Mario the special power to walk up vertical obstacles and collect coins. It’s the purr-fect way to have even more fun with the Lego Super Mario levels.
Builder Mario Power-Up Pack (71373)
When Mario is wearing this suit, players can earn digital coins by making him stomp hard on LEGO bricks in the course they have created. The more he stomps, the more coins you win! It’s a brick-bashingly brilliant way to have even more fun with the Lego Super Mario levels.
To play with the suits, fans will need the Mario figure included in the Adventures with Mario Starter Course (71360). No batteries needed for the Power-Up Packs, just dress Mario in the suits to power up.
You can check out all the new sets in this video, presented by the chief designer of the sets, Jonathan Bennink.
Corrections - [28/07/2020] In an earlier version, we stated that character packs would cost $5/£5. The UK price has now been confirmed to be £3.49