Think what you will about Nintendo Labo and its cardboard creations, but there was no faulting its ability to let you be creative within the Nintendo ecosystem. Super Mario Maker channels that same energy, letting you imagine the kind of Super Mario levels you'd love to play across the entire history of the plumber's adventures. And now, Lego Super Mario is here to build on that legacy of creativity with a range of sets that allow you to build your own Super Mario game in real life. And it might just be perfect.
At the core of the entire Lego Super Mario range is the blocky Lego Mario himself, who comes complete with LCD screens for eyes and an in-built speaker, so he can react to every movement and interaction you make him do. Squash Goombas, land on lava, survive a ride on a Piranha Plant see-saw… it's all reflected in Mario's expression and the noises he makes. Connecting to the Android and iOS Lego Super Mario app via Bluetooth, you can even monitor what he's been up to across the course afterward.
But it's also about the way you interact with him. Make him jump and he'll whoop and holla, waddle walk him across a table and he'll make the appropriate noises. Heck, you can even push him over for a comical whoopsy, or leave him lying there to listen to him slowly go to sleep. There's plenty of character packed into his small form that makes him extend beyond the courses as a toy or piece of memorabilia.
Our adorable blocky Mario comes with the Lego Super Mario Starter Course, which retails for £49.99 in the UK, and $59.99 in the US. From this pack, you'll get plenty of accessories to start making your Mario levels. The 231-piece set transforms into the starter tunnel, end flag, Bowser Junior and a variety of different platforms for Mario to navigate. You build it all via the app's digital instructions, which are - in typical Lego fashion - beautifully simple, and even come with little instructional videos that show you how everything works and suggestions on how to join the different course elements together.
But it's the freedom to play around with different layouts in order to craft your own levels that's where the real entertainment lies - beyond the actual build of course. The way you connect all the various elements is totally up to you, including ? blocks and enemies of course. As long as you've got a start and a finish to tell Mario - and the app - what you're up to, the way you put everything else together is totally up to you. Even as a 30-year-old woman, I've had so much fun designing my levels because it's so easy to move things around, and switch up the existing Lego designs to make my own creations.
The ease of the interactivity means it's very easy to reap the rewards of your creativity too, which I've always found slightly prohibitive when it comes to some elements of the Super Mario Maker games. No great Super Mario knowledge is required, it's just a case of arranging your bricks in a way that makes you excited.
The app is fantastic for encouraging your creativity too. There's a section that not only gives you a weekly challenge to get involved with, but it allows you to share your own creations and view images of the levels other players have built. It's a simple as snapping a photo of your finished course with your smartphone or tablet and whacking it straight into the app's social media ecosystem. Lego itself is there to help too, with some of its own alternative constructions right there amongst the user-generated content, meaning it's never difficult to find some inspiration for your own creations.
Of course, as is the way with Lego and most toys like it, the more sets you buy, the more creative you're able to be. But thankfully, those looking to expand from the Starter Course will find there's a range of ways to add to your base regardless of your budget. At the very lowest price points, you've got your Character Packs at £3.99 / $4.99 and Power-Up Packs at £8.99 / $9.99. The former are blind bags to let you add new enemies and platforms, while the Power-Ups are actually different Mario suits that you can switch in for his standard blue dungarees to let him interact with elements in different ways, like the Fire or Propellor suits.
But where you'll get the most added elements is through the Expansion Sets. These range in price from £17.99 / $19.99 with sets like the Desert Pokey and Whomp's Lava Trouble, all the way up to £89.99 / $99.99 for the gigantic - and seriously impressive - Bowser's Castle Boss Battle Expansion set. Genuinely took two grown adults over two hours to build.
I love the fact there's a set for every fan though, whether you're looking for a Lego version of Yoshi, or a course element that adds a little more danger to Mario's day. And it's also reassuring to know that - perhaps not including Bowser's castle - you don't have to break the bank to add to your collection.
But even if you never intend to go beyond the Starter Course (although the quality of the creations may change your mind), there's so much fun to be had, especially just seeing all those familiar faces materialise in Lego form. It's a fantastic way to experience Super Mario with all the family.
Here's the full list of all the sets, and here are the latest Lego Super Mario deals:
- Character packs | $4.99 / £3.49
- Desert Pokey Expansion Set | $19.99 / £17.99
- Whomp’s Lava Trouble Expansion Set | $19.99 / £17.99
- Mario’s House & Yoshi Expansion Set | $29.99 / £24.99
- Boomer Bill Barrage Expansion Set | $29.99 / £24.99
- Piranha Plant Power Slide Expansion Set | $29.99 / £24.99
- Thwomp Drop Expansion Set | $39.99 / £34.99
- King Boo and the Haunted Yard Expansion Set | $49.99 / £44.99
- Guarded Fortress Expansion Set | $49.99 / £44.99
- Toad’s Treasure Hunt Expansion Set | $69.99 / £74.99
- Bowser's Castle Boss Battle Expansion Set | $99.99 / £89.99