(Written by William)
Twenty-five years ago, the world was introduced to a 3D platforming version of Mario in Super Mario 64. This was one of the flagship titles of the beloved Nintendo 64 console. Thus, it is fitting that the next direct-to-consumer LEGO Super Mario set made for adults is a tribute to this video game icon!
Those familiar with any Super Mario title should recognize the question mark block. This block in-game was always filled with an interesting surprise. From coins to power-ups, to vines that led to new areas of a level, these blocks were always worth your time checking out in the game. So, it is appropriate that the #71395 LEGO Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block recreates this signature element from the games.
The only odd thing is that this set is called the Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block. Even the instructions admit there is no question mark block in the game. Instead, the game uses exclamation mark switches that activate other blocks to give Mario special hats. Regardless, the question mark block is still very much associated with the Mario franchise. You could even say that Super Mario 64 is finally getting its lost question mark block.
But wait! If the game version had surprises inside, does this mean the model also has nifty tricks inside it? You bet it does! So, let’s take a look and see what we get!
A WORLD OF POSSIBILITY
Press the box at the right spot on top and a transformation begins. You’ll have to help it along, but once it flips upright and you pull the sides apart, you will uncover a micro-scale Mario world. There are four distinct locations.
Located at the top is Princess Toadstool’s Castle. It features a tiny Mario and Princess as well as Likatu Bros., which acted as the cameraman for the game. Hidden in the back is even a micro Yoshi. You can open up the front of the castle by removing the wall with the drawbridge. Inside, you get tiny representations of three portraits. These are depictions of the other three levels found in the set. Plus, there is an additional interactive surprise (more on this feature later). Let’s move on to stage 1.
Welcome to Bob-omb Battlefields. This is the first level in which Mario can attempt to collect the power stars and return them back to the Princess’s castle. You get micro versions of some of the features of the level, including the Chain Chomp and King Bob-omb himself. Once you master this level, it is time to move to the next.
We skip ahead to stage 4, Cool, Cool Mountain. This slippery stage features a couple of penguin nasties to fight. You can even open up the mountain to see some interior slides. Watch your step and you can make it to the third treacherous terrain.
Lethal Lava Land is located right under the castle and recreates stage 7 of the game. You have a bully to push off into the lava as well as Mr. I to defeat. This level has some interactive elements, including a spinning volcano, and a moving feature in the bottom right corner. And it’s not a Mario adventure without a final boss!
Hidden away right in front is King Koopa! Slide open the hidden hatch and he is revealed on his throne. Press down on his body, and that unlocks a platform in which he and Mario can go toe to toe. Now if only you can play the game… or can you?
BRING OUT YOUR MARIO!
Just like the Nintendo Entertainment System model, the LEGO version also let’s you use your Mario from the #71360 LEGO Super Mario Starter Course. Or if you prefer, you can also use Luigi from the #71387 LEGO Super Mario Starter Course set. When you remove the front wall of the castle, there is a tile that is revealed. This is where you scan your selected Mario brother and begin the adventure.
According to the manual, this will take you on an adventure to find ten stars of power to return the castle to its former glory. This is very similar to the original game. You may be thinking, this should be simple, I built the set so I know where all the stars are hidden, right?
Well, the set only comes with two actual star pieces. The remaining stars will have to be obtained through other means. For instance, just like the game, you could obtain a star by finding enough red coins. Sadly, I can not verify more than these vague hints since, at the time of this writing, Mario can’t be updated yet to interact with this model.
This is a model that I feel won’t photograph especially well. The micro-scale makes it hard to appreciate the size of the question mark block and vice versa. However, in-person, this thing really pops. Between its bright cheerful color and design, people are going to want to see what mystery is hidden within the block. It is this mystery angle that really brings value to the model. It has the level of detail and intricate design to deliver on the surprise factor. I’m even happy to say that the building experience was fantastic.
Creating a box seems like a trivial task. However, when this block needs to be sturdy, look good, and hold some secrets, there is a lot of demands put on the model. In fact, I was expecting to be completely flummoxed by how everything worked. Turns out, the mechanism is kept very simple. That’s not to say things don’t get tricky. Most of the effort goes into creating three-dimensional terrain that can be folded in on itself. It’s easy to fold up a piece of paper, but how do you fold up a densely populated world?
What you end up with is a very intriguing decorative model that doesn’t skimp on its ability to be played with. I can’t even walk by the thing without unfolding and refolding it. Be sure to check out the video as I show how the model works since it’s definitely something that needs to be seen to believe!
What do you think? How do you like this new LEGO Super Mario set? Are you planning to get it? Do you have any of the other LEGO Super Mario sets? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
And you might also like to check out the following related posts:
- LEGO Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block Coming!
- LEGO Super Mario Adventures with Luigi
- More LEGO Super Mario Sets in 2021
- LEGO Super Mario Sets Overview
- LEGO Super Mario Press-Release & Intro Video
- Brick Breakdown: LEGO Nintendo Entertainment System
- LEGO Nintendo Entertainment System Coming! (press-release)