The Super Mario Starter Course LEGO set is a Super Mario themed set of blocks with interactive elements and an electronic Mario-toy. You can play with the lego-blocks as is. However, if you wanted to unlock the true potential of the interactive elements a smart device is needed. You need to download a Lego Super Mario app that has the building instructions that come in a digital 3D-model format. The app also provides tips for designing courses, and there is an online community where the user can share these designs and take part in challenges. The app also plays music but, unfortunately, not when viewing the building instructions or engaging with the toy. Instead, the music and sounds for the course come from the Mario-toy.
The set features one Mario-toy that has a built-in LCD screen and a speaker, two enemies, and the rest of the course materials. In this set, there are green, blue, and red blocks that Mario reacts to. For example, when the Mario-toy steps on a red surface, a burning-sound will play, and a picture of flames appears on the LCD-screen. Stepping on red also hurts Mario, as it symbolizes lava. There are also special colored barcode tag-tiles that are used to start and end the course, defeat enemies and engage in special events. When Mario interacts with these, music will play, coins or power-ups appear, depending on the tile.
The course starts when Mario enters the green pipe, and it ends when he touches the goal tile. The time limit for completing the course is one minute. To collect coins, Mario needs to waddle like a penguin – coin-collecting is activated by the movement that the gyroscopic sensor interprets.
Personally, building the Super Mario Lego set is a nostalgic activity in two ways. Firstly, the LEGO-blocks were one of my favorite toys when I was a child. Secondly, Super Mario games have also been in my life ever since. Asking a friend to help build this set made it even more nostalgic, as it took me mentally back to those childhood playtimes. For me, cooperation was a fundamental part of the fun with this LEGO-set.
I had hoped the app would have been more interactive. If it had added augmented reality (AR) into the course, and you could see Mario running through the course on the screen, it would have been amazing and brought it to the next level. Perhaps adding AR might require more intricate building blocks, but the technology exists, and should be used more often.
While playing with it was fun, I think it could be better. I am craving more music and sounds, other characters, and more interactive enemies and blocks. LEGO-blocks are very high-quality toys and probably will last forever, but 50–70 euros is a steep price for what is essentially an assortment of colorful pieces of plastic. Unlike I had hoped, the set did not cross the boundary of an ordinary interactive toy to a gamified toy. I wish they had invested more in the app functionalities.
Despite the slight disappointment, I will probably ask Santa for an expansion set!
All of the photos and screenshot are taken by the author.
Release date: August 2020
Number of players: 1
Playing time: As long as you like