The last time I held a Lego brick in my hands, I was still in diapers. In the years since, I’ve changed a lot – and so has Lego. For example, I only wear diapers once a month now, and Lego has gone digital. But what hasn’t changed over the last decade is the feeling of pure joy these little blocks bring. If you haven’t picked up Lego in an age, the Lego Super Mario sets might be what pulls you back in.
Growing up, Lego was simple. Aquazone Accessories was the hottest kit to own and your imagination meant your bricks could be anything you could imagine (and if you couldn’t, you were stuffed). Now, Lego is everywhere — and it’s backed by the power of apps and digital characters you can actually interact with.
While it’s not quite the same as the stuff I grew up playing, it’s still fantastic fun, and a great way to spend an afternoon.
The Lego Super Mario Adventures with Luigi Starter Course is one of the latest sets to join the high tech Super Mario Lego range, which focuses on bridging the game between digital and physical games. Luigi lights up, he makes squidging noises if you walk him across the floor, he can interact with enemies and objects, and putting him into a green pipe starts a 60-second timer for your personally-designed level.
You can also hook him up to the digital app which gives you instructions for building, challenges to conquer, and also acts as a digital record of your course clearance rates and high scores.
More importantly though: if you connect Luigi to the app alongside the Mario figure, the brothers say hello and can work together to defeat enemies.
Is it necessary to enjoy the Lego Super Mario experience? No. Adorable? You betcha.
That said, even as a standalone product the Luigi Starter Course is a great little package. It actually has a leg up over the original Mario kit thanks to more complex builds and a better array of characters. The kit includes a Bone Goomba, Boom Boom and a Pink Yoshi ally to add to your Mario course as well as seesaw stairs, an array of castles and a mini desert.
Of these, the seesaw stairs are the most complicated and fun to build because they operate on a pivot point and have a range of movement that other pieces in the set don’t. They also activate a tense electronic soundtrack that makes the bridge cross more fun and frantic for players.
Personally, I felt the Mario kit was missing a dynamic scene like this one, so it’s great to see the Luigi set expanding on how complex your courses can be. Likewise, the Pink Yoshi is a great addition, spicing up each course.
As an adult experience Lego for the first time in over a decade, playing the Lego Luigi Starter Course was a real revelation. Sure, it’s not the same Lego I played with when I was young, but the additions of step-by-step digital instructions and interactivity mean the whole package is far more engaging than the Lego I used to play with.
It was also an absolute joy to dive in with during lockdown.
It’s easy to take life too seriously, particularly when it feels like there’s so little joy in the Sydney air. Lockdowns are tough and spiralling is easy — but the pure delight of Lego Luigi meant it was easy to forget that I can’t leave the house, or see my friends, or go down to the pub.
Sure, there’s an element of novelty value in this set. After an hour or two you’ll probably run out of course combinations and the joy of discovering every digital interaction will wear out — but the building process is very cathartic, the digital aspects work superbly and those first few hours with the set are a real joy.
Each individual piece also looks great on a shelf — so they won’t go astray even if you do tire of the gimmick.
Again, this is me speaking as an adult with a full-time job. There’s still plenty of joy to be had as an adult, and a place on the shelf for every piece — but that joy is amplified tenfold for the set’s target audience: young kids.
I recently videocalled my niece, and we sat together on the phone playing through my level course which included pieces from the Super Mario starter kit. She was fascinated by the colours, sounds and interactions. It may be a long time before she’s able to visit and enjoy it for herself in person, but I know she’ll love it just as much as I do.
For kids it’s the perfect, exciting entry point to both Lego and the Mario franchises. For adults, it’s a spot of joy in a time when joy is hard to come by. No matter your age, you’ll end up falling a little bit in love with the LEGO Super Mario Adventures with Luigi Starter set. It’s the perfect little distraction for these “hard times”.