IF you were to pick two of the most iconic children’s entertainment icons, you’d find Lego and “Super Mario Bros” somewhere near the top of that list.
Combining the two is exactly as awesome as it sounds, and the Lego Super Mario Bros sets have been extremely popular as a result – our own Pete Curulli raved about it last year, and with good reason.
As the Super Mario Brothers name suggests, there is another member of Familia Mario – his brother, Luigi (AKA the one in green) – and he was previously missing from the Lego-based range. Until now, that is, because Luigi now gets his own Lego Mario set – specifically the Adventures With Luigi Starter Set.
The idea with the sets is you have your figures – now including Luigi – which run on 2x AAA batteries and have a scanner underneath them, and displays in their eyes and chest that allow them to move their eyes and display information (like coins collected), and also play sound effects and music too.
Lego have done some great work incorporating technology into the Luigi (and Mario) sets, building on their experiences with things like Lego Hidden Side kits.
As you make your way through the obstacle course you’ve built, you land Mario and/or Luigi on what amount to QR codes, which the scanner in the figure reads and generates a sound effect and display on the figure’s screens.
My kids and I been playing around with the sets, particularly the Lego Luigi starter kit which recently launched, and have had a huge amount of fun with them – not just from a “Hey, cool, Super Mario Bros” perspective, but from the imaginative play they inspire.
Right from the start, there’s a tech focus – you can scan a QR code using a smartphone or tablet to get the instructions on our screen, which my kids really liked. I’m old school and like having a paper manual, but the iPad-based instructions were easy for the kids to follow and worked well.
In the spirit of Lego, the sets are all about creative play – while you can follow the instructions to build the “proper” course and move through it, you’re also totally free to let your imagination run wild and move Mario/Luigi wherever you like.
It was delightful watching my kids set up levels in their rooms with the enemies and obstacles and different places, and watching them play as they made Mario and Luigi leap over pillows and jump over toy cars while narrating the adventures.
The two-player element works really well, allowing Mario and Luigi to complete the course together and earn bonus coins and – this is particularly important – allow two children to play together, which stops a lot of fights. It’s also neat seeing the Mario and Luigi figures reacting to each other and things happening in the adventure too.
For the best effect, the set should be combined with the Lego Super Mario app to get the benefits of a digital Lego Mario – including instructions, an overview of how the course should be ‘officially’ played, and a breakdown of how many coins have been earned in play, among other things.
The Luigi starter set has 280 pieces (including Luigi himself, Pink Yoshi, a Boom-Boom and a small enemy I didn’t recognise immediately) and provides a great starting point for the green-overalled Mario sibling’s Lego adventures. It’s pretty straightforward to put together; there’s nothing especially complex or fiddly there, which means it
One of the key things about Lego is that it encourages play and creativity, so you’re not just limited to the official Mario/Luigi sets except for the scanning/digital interactive elements. If you (or your kids) want to create an adventure that involves Mario or Luigi getting into planes or cars made from other Lego pieces to travel to a different area, go right ahead.
If you’re a Lego fan (and I have no shame in admitting I love Lego), and you like Super Mario Bros, and you also have the Adventures with Mario Lego sets, then the Adventure with Luigi set is a great addition to the series and one you (and any kids in the house) will have a lot of fun with.