Review: Lego Super Mario is a delightful real-life version of the Nintendo games

Lego Super Mario was recently released in New Zealand and kids of a certain age are going to absolutely love it.

I'm surprised at how the collaboration between the toy brick building company and Japanese gaming giant Nintendo actually evolves the Lego experience.

You know when kids are playing with Lego - or any toys really - and they move them around with their hands and make sound effects with their mouths as they woosh through the air and crash into each other? 

Well Lego Super Mario takes that idea and makes it an actual game, sort of.

Using Lego pieces that are enhanced with a bit of new technology - tiny LCD screens and electronic sounds - allows players to actually play the Lego kind of like it's a video game, albeit a super basic one. 

Of course, for a lot of people the actual construction of the Lego is the main drawcard. They may be disappointed with the Super Mario sets as they're mostly a lot of little structures to put together as courses, rather than big awesome things like the Death Star.

But for children or children at heart who want to move a physical Mario figure along a course they can customise themselves, this is pretty cool.

The first thing I did after opening up the box was connect to the internet and update my Lego Mario figure.

Yup, in 2020 you update your Lego.

Using a free app with the Lego set is absolutely essential - there's no paper instructions for building the sets to begin with, and then you'll need it for playing with the kit too.  

Lego Super Mario is now available in New Zealand.
Photo credit: Nintendo / Lego

Back in 2015, Lego jumped into the video game world with a Skylanders and Disney Infinity rival entitled Lego Dimensions. That was more of a video game than a Lego game, whereas Lego Super Mario is much more about actually playing with the real-life bricks than it is using the app.

But there's no denying the app is a fundamental part of the Lego Super Mario experience. As well giving instructions on how to build each set, it also records what happens in each level run through its Bluetooth connection to Lego Mario himself.

You can also use the app to digitally record and share your levels and records online.

The Lego Mario figure electronically reads the environment around him and which enemies, coins or power-ups he is collecting as he bounces along, busting out classic Mario sayings, as well as sound effects and music from the Nintendo games.

The novelty of things like Mario's screens reacting to green Lego squares (grass), red ones (lava) and blue ones (water) is delightful.

Once you've set a level up, you place Mario on the starter square and a 60 second timer starts, then your goal is to get through the level and collect as many coins as possible before reaching the flag pole at the end. 

It's an ambitious and impressive attempt at creating a physical version of one of the Nintendo games in real life, using Lego.

As cool as it is, however, for those adults playing without kids there's no escaping how childish and even dorky it can feel to physically play with your little toys like a kind in a sandpit.

Also the basic set is recommended for kids aged six and up - there's lots of little pieces littler kids could choke on. So there is a fairly specific children's age group that this will be ideal for.

Like most official Lego-related stuff, the Super Mario sets don't come too cheap, either. The aptly named starter kit costs around $80 in Aotearoa, with expansions ranging from around $30 to $170.

There's already eight expansion sets out as well as other little extra things to buy, so if you or your child gets into this whole Lego Super Mario thing then expect to blow a few hundred bucks on it pretty easily.

But hey, it is an impressive and very charming toy set that could provide hours of joy.