Lego’s Super Mario range is the perfect fusion of the company’s creative building and Nintendo’s fun approach to gaming. The latest addition to the series is less of a playset and more of a showpiece along the same lines as last year’s excellent Nintendo Entertainment System. Is it worth your hard-earned cash, though? Should you buy the Lego Super Mario Question Mark Block?
When Super Mario 64 burst onto the gaming scene in 1996 it set new standards for both platformers and 3D games in general, highlighting just what was possible in the blossoming medium. While Lego’s new set doesn’t quite reach those lofty heights, it’s the perfect complement to the groundbreaking game and has more than enough of its own creative little flourishes which you’ll discover as you make your way through its five and a half-hour build.
As you’d expect from Lego, the presentation of the Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block is flawless. The box itself is adorned with stylish graphics highlighting some of the more interesting aspects of the build, including the transformation of the block itself and its diminutive characters, which include Mario, Peach, and Bowser. Inside are 13 packs of Lego as well as a lavish 276-page manual, which not only explains why Lego decided to make the set in the first place, but also highlights some of the many surprises in store, which are unlockable if you have the Mario which is included with the core Adventures With Mario Starter Course.
The first few builds are easily the most complicated, as they’re effectively setting up the foundations of the block, as well as some Lego Technic-styled inner workings that will allow the worlds to open up with a simple push of the block’s top. These early builds each take a good half hour to put together - longer if you’re the kind of master builder that likes to sort all of their pieces by color - and offer some creative building that’s become a mainstay of some of the more complicated Lego sets. It’s fascinating seeing how everything slowly comes together and the instructions are easy to follow, although the numerous moving parts may mean that younger master builders may need help at times.
Less impressive are the sides of the block's faces that sport the iconic question mark, as most of them follow the same basic structure, so they become a little dull to build. Still, the first one you do put together is at least a little different as it’s designed to create a hiding place for Bowser, as well as housing a drop-down platform that lets you spin the King of the Koopas by the tail once everything is fully assembled.
Once the core has been constructed the majority of the build focuses on the three worlds that Lego has included: Bob-Omb Battlefield, Lethal Lava Land, and Cool, Cool Mountain. Lethal Lava Land is arguably the most interesting to put together as it forms the base that the other two worlds connect to. Additionally, it also houses Princess Peach’s castle which folds down on top via some more Lego Technic-style wizardry.
There’s a lot of intricate detail as you build Lethal Lava Land and there’s a big focus on smaller pieces, which are used to represent ramps and walkways. Lego has also included a spinning volcano, a neat roller, and a movable bridge, while the Big Bully, Mr I and a Power Star also make appearances. It’s crammed with detail and is a lot of fun to build.
Equally impressive is Peach’s Castle, which reminds us of the Lego Architecture builds that exist. It’s daintily put together and features a neat breakaway section that allows you to pull off the front part of the castle so that you can see the three paintings inside that lead to the included worlds. The castle’s innards also hide the Action Brick and you can use your Mario from the aforementioned core set here. We weren’t able to test it ourselves, but it allows you to find 10 Power Stars which are hidden throughout the build.
The final two micro builds are equally inventive in their design and more than a little fiddly due to the sheer number of small bricks used. The mountain is arguably the highlight of Cool, Cool Mountain thanks to the little path that runs up it, while the cute penguins will be instantly recognizable to anyone that’s played the game. It’s otherwise quite light on environmental features (although it does feature a breakaway section like Peach’s castle does. Bob-Omb Battlefield fares much better and is filled with all manner of neat touches from movable cannons and an island in the sky to Bowser’s area and the hilltop where King Bob-omb resides.
Once everything has been constructed you simply stack Peach’s Castle onto Lethal Lava Land, fold up Cool, Cool Mountain, and Bob-Omb Battlefield, and push back the cube’s back so that you can flip everything inside. It folds out really easily, while the front of the cube hides Bowser and also activates a drop-down platform that features a spinning platform that allows you to recreate the boss battles where Mario swings Bower by the tail. Accessing Bowser is a little fiddly however, so we were quite happy to keep him safe inside the block.
Should you buy the Lego Super Mario Question Mark Block set?
While there’s no denying that the Lego Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block is an entertaining little build with some clever mechanics, the price tag does feel a little steep for what’s on offer. It lacks the ingenuity of the NES build but there’s no denying that it’s a fun little piece to show off to friends and a fitting tribute to the hit N64 game.