A sure-hit with fans of Super Mario fans, LEGO has taken it up a notch further with nifty Super Mario toy figures and novel gaming experience! We do a hands-on review of the LEGO Super Mario – Adventures with Mario Starter Course (71360), a 231-piece starter playset that is the ideal entry point to the LEGO Super Mario universe and a starter course required for play with the other LEGO Super Mario expansion playsets.
Highlight of the LEGO Super Mario – Adventures with Mario Starter Course (71360)
A super-cool and delightful electronic LEGO Mario figure is central to the playset as he comes to life as a real character, once powered by two AAA-batteries (not included in the set). This toy figure talks! He exclaims, “LEGO Mario time!” and when left alone too long, “I am tired!”he starts off with “Here we go!” And before powering off, says goodbye with “See you later!”
He gives animated expressive facial responses through the small LCD screens in his eyes, mouth and chest which convey a wide range of emotions, with multiple different instant reactions to movement and the course information.
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He has colour sensors with a scanner to interact with his environment such as water, grass, flames, wood and sand icons appearing on his chest screen when placed on a blue, green, red, brown and yellow surfaces respectively, complete with an in-built speaker playing iconic sounds such as clinking of coins, the victory end-game tune and the very familiar theme music from the original video game music.
My kids also loved taking off his pants and legs which causes LEGO Mario to exclaim, “Mama Mia!” and other shock factors trigger his screams of “Argh!” when he gets burnt by lava or poisoned swamp respectively upon jumping on red or purple bricks.
Easy Build and Flexible Configuration
With only 231 pieces, including a good number of blue, red and green planks to join the sections, the build is simple and my two mid-primary schoolers easily set up their first course within half an hour, thus the recommended age for 6 years and above.
To begin (as there is no accompanying manual), players will need to download the free LEGO Super Mario companion app, available on iOS and Android to establish a connection between the app and LEGO Mario, as well as guide in the building of different courses.
The easy 3D instructions show how to build each section with zoom-rotating viewing tools but leaves the course’s configuration up to the builder-player. Beyond that, the app offers tutorial videos for other build suggestions and how to move up levels for enhanced play and creative problem-solving.
Running the Course and its Challenge
The task of LEGO Mario is to collect virtual coins as he travels around the course starting from the Green Pipe (the pipehole from which he emerges in the video game) to the end-Goal Pole with a ‘Bowser’ flag within a one-minute time limit, tackling obstacles and enemies along the way. When he is running out of time, he will shout “Oh No!”
There are seven action bricks that trigger immediate responses from the LEGO Mario figure as he encounters various elements, each with barcode on them such as a the movable rotating and cloud platforms, the question-mark block and buildable Goomba and Bowser Jr.figures to challenge and jump on.
When Mario scans the barcodes, his screen responds accordingly to perform actions as there is a different effect based on each element resulting in rewards in the form of coins, a power-up mushroom or an invincibility star complete with sound effects and music.
When Mario jumps on Bowser Jr., explosive pow icon appears plus he gains a coin for defeating his enemy! The final total score flashed on his chest screen is based on the amount of coins he has picked up at the end of the course or time limit.
A solo player can re-run the course to aim for higher scores or compete with another player to see who collects the most coins, which my two children had fun taking turns to do so!
LEGO Super Mario – Adventures with Mario Starter Course (71360) Review: Entertaining Play
The beauty lies in the freedom of design and layout of each different Super Mario route for Mario to move forward. It allows builder-players to change the game by rearranging the course to design their own LEGO Mario adventures and take the game to new levels.
As the Starter Course itself is relatively small but is the only means to obtain an electronic LEGO Mario who interacts with the different pieces of each course, combining it with another expansion playset in the LEGO Super Mario range will further allow builder-players to exercise design-thinking to some extent and continue to build on more enjoyable challenges for unlimited play.
Lego Super Mario rocks! Once cognisant of the game structure, my young builder-players happily activated the electronic LEGO Mario to maximise the play and integrated the Starter Course with another subsequent expansion set from the LEGO Super Mario ecosystem!