I sit, wide-eyed, staring intently at the brand new Lego set that lay before me. It harkens me back to a past age, as memories of my childhood flood through my body.
I can’t tell much of what to expect from the packaging, except that this has something to do with a legend from my childhood—Super Mario. The box reads ‘For ages 6 to up’ , so this should be a breeze—I think.
I take the box in my hands and slowly peel off the scotch-tape securing its lid. Out tumbles a variety of plastic satchets filled with many lego pieces, a how-to manual, and a pack of batteries. Batteries? I’ve never played lego with batteries before. Now I am interested. Buried within all the random bits and pieces, I see a familiar face peeking out, as if gasping for air.
Staring right at me is the mini figurine of everyone’s favourite Italian plumber—Super Mario. I pick him up, observing his tiny, plastic body in my hands. He seems to be in parts, so perhaps I need to assemble him myself.
The how-to manual looks flimsy, and thin. Every sentence in English is immediately preceded by four to five sentences in a different language. I struggle for a while as I try to make sense of the instructions. The pictures are a great help, though.
I flip past the first few pages and find a series of pictures on how to assemble Mario—the first step seems easy enough, but the second tells me that I need to unscrew his back to insert batteries.
I get up, rather lethargically, to walk towards my intimidating, packed-to-the-brim storeroom. I did not think setting this up would require actual tools. It seems like Super Mario is trumping over me well before I have even started.
Finally, I found a screwdriver. Continuing with the steps shown in the manual, my little Super Mario comes to life soon enough—its eyes light up, as well as a small, rectangular space in his torso. A loud, enthused voice rings out: “It’s Lego Mario Time!”
I pick up the how-to manual again, and notice that there is an app for users that can guide me through this whole building process. How advanced, and convenient.
Gone are the days of flipping through diagrams and illustrations, trying to figure out which piece goes where. I pick up my phone and download the app which soon launches into a detailed programme containing lots of videos and 3D animations on how to assemble everything part by part. Time to get building.
As I scroll through the tutorials, it starts to dawn upon me that this lego set is actually a real-life, 3D scale model of a typical level you can find on the original Super Mario Nintendo video games.
You can build platforms with a variety of textures—red for fire, green for grass and blue for water—and Mario will react accordingly based on which texture he is standing on. Standing on red, or fire, for too long, will start a timer on Mario which spells his demise .
You can also create obstacles for Mario to overcome, such as the famous mushroom Goomba. These obstacles come with a little barcode on top, so as Mario jumps on them, it scans the barcode to receive a coin.
This is all detected via the phone app. When you complete a course, you can see how much coins you’ve racked up, just like in the Nintendo game.
The lego set features little cool details, such as a starting point, and an ending point, presented as a green bucket and a tall flag respectively. When you put Mario in the green bucket, a 60-second timer starts. Placing Mario on the ending point will end the timer, completing your run and bringing up your score on the phone app.
I make my way through the countless, yet incredibly detailed and easy-to-follow tutorials with much enjoyment. It’s been a while since I got my hands busy with lego pieces, and it brought out the child in me that I thought had disappeared.
Though this set is for ages 6 and up, I see how an adult can definitely enjoy building it themselves. After building many obstacles and pathways for Mario using as much obstacles as I can, I feel like I have finally made a full, complete course. Now, it’s time to give it a go.
Playing with it can be fun, but I find myself trying not to dismantle the course too much. It’s also a little hard to get Mario to balance, as I catch myself picking him up from comedic falls countless of times. That said, you can literally create countless different custom courses based on your own creativity, so every playing session is a new experience.
This is a great parent-and-child activity, and a perfect way to get your children to create something with their hands while integrating the experience with a virtual platform—it’s the best of both worlds and very 2020.
You can also save your course by taking a picture and uploading it on the app, which will record your high score on that course. The lego set takes the virtual Mario experience to a whole different level, and if you are a big Super Mario or Lego fan, this is definitely a must-have set for your household.
The set currently retails for S$84.99 at authorised outlets like Toys R Us.
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