LEGO Mario is here. The icon of the gaming world now has his own LEGO theme. If you know Nintendo then you know that they like to do weird stuff. They released a range of accessories for the Switch that you make yourself out of cardboard. A lot of people wanted this collaboration to be standard minifigure sets, but I don’t think Nintendo were going to go with the safe option.
LEGO was awesome and sent me the full product line-up to review. Today I am going to be looking specifically at 71360 Adventures with Mario Starter Course. I’ll be checking out the expansion sets in a separate post soon.
And here’s a quick video showing you how it all works:
The key to this whole theme is the interactive LEGO Mario figure that can only be found in 71360 Adventures with Mario Starter Course. He’s big and blocky and definitely not a minifigure. I did think it was a bit weird when I saw that first teaser, but once I realised the tech he was filled with I understood the decision. Opening up the set and putting Mario together I immediately found him a lot cuter than I expected. Yes he’s big but he’s not that big.
Be warned that for this theme you will need a compatible smart device. While Mario functions even when not connected via Bluetooth to your device, the sets do not include printed instructions at all. The on-screen guided instructions are needed to build your set. I am still on the fence about app instructions but I did like that there are videos spread throughout, think that will be useful for kids.
The app allows you to log in with your LEGO ID in settings. I assumed this would keep track of your coin total across devices and playthroughs but logging in on multiple devices this didn’t seem to be the case.
Like most modern Bluetooth devices, connection is easy. Open the app, tap the connect button and then press the button on the back of Mario. The process only takes a few seconds.
The starter course doesn’t have a set way of putting it together. You build the various element and then arrange them however you like. You can make a straight level (like a side scroller) or you can add some twists and turns. Most of the sections have 4 different 2 stud wide gaps for connecting it all together. There are a heap of 2 wide plates included so you’ve got plenty of options.
Here are all of the sections that you can build with the starter course:
In the starter pack there are a few key parts that feature pre-applied stickers. These stickers work with Mario to trigger specific functions/events. The first of these is built in to the start pipe. Placing Mario here will start the coin count and set the timer to 60 seconds.
The included brick-built Goomba also features a code on its head. Putting Mario on top will trigger the expected result – jumping on the Goomba to defeat it and earning coins for your trouble.
It wouldn’t be a Mario course without question mark blocks. Jumping on this will scan the code and trigger a random result. It might be coins or it might be something else, like extra time or Power-up.
The cloud allows you to fly Mario around and collect coins. You can fly Mario around as long as he is on the relevant code tile but time will be a factor. This uses the accelerometer as well as the camera.
Another way to collect more coins is to do a few laps on the spinner. The further around you go the more coins you get. This again uses both the pattern and Mario’s accelerometer. I found myself going too fast and sending Mario flying across the table more than once. Mario doesn’t like that and will pause for a few seconds with dizzy eyes. This can be critical if you leave the spinner late in your course and you are low on time.
Bowser Junior is another enemy that can be defeated thanks to the code on his back. Knock him over, jump on him a few times and get the coins.
The final pre-stickered element is the finish tile. If you make it here before the time runs out the coins that you collect on that run will be recorded added to your total.
Beyond the specific codes you will find that Mario reacts to certain coloured elements. Green scans as grass, blue is water, yellow is sand and red is lava. The lava in particular is one you want to avoid. Too long on a red element and you’ll lose coins. Before building the course I had a heap of fun testing him out on different coloured surfaces to see what each does.
I liked the concept of LEGO Mario but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be something that I personally enjoyed. Having played with it a bit I am a big fan. It’s just a heap of fun. You don’t need to make your little Mario bob back and forth as he goes through the course, but you find yourself doing it anyway. It’s like a real world Mario Maker or a interactive Mario board game. You probably won’t get a lot of depth from just the starter pack but it did contain enough to keep my son entertained for a couple of hours (he wanted to keep playing but it got to lunch time).
71360 Adventures with Mario Starter Course has an RRP of $89.99. That might seem steep based on part count alone but this does include the electronic Mario, which bumps the price up.
Here’s a quick round-up of where you can get yours: