After first announcing the introduction of Mario’s tall, timid brother Luigi into the Lego universe in April, Lego finally shared just how the brothers Mario will sync up for a new take on two-player cooperative (or competitive) Lego play. It also revealed four new Expansion Sets, two Power-Up Packs (Frog and Bee), and ten new random bagged Character Packs, all timed for an August 1 release on the first anniversary of the Nintendo and Lego collaboration. I had a chance to play with some of the new sets and came away impressed both with the new functionality and with how intuitive the play mechanics were … not for me, but for my 7-year-old boss, who immediately understood just how to have fun for the both of us.
It probably goes without saying, but I’m old. While I love building a Lego set, it’s been a long time since I’ve played with a Lego set. Even the initial Lego Super Mario sets we purchased last summer (thank you for that timing, Lego, we needed it) were a ton of fun for me to watch my son play with. But with the new two-player gameplay introduced with the Luigi set, I found myself actively participating in the synchronized jumping and collaborative coin collecting built into the game’s new “dual play” mechanics.
To get ready to pair with Luigi, we had to update our existing Lego Super Mario app. From there, just holding the Bluetooth button — that’s the top button — on the back of both characters pair them with each other, at which point they say hello and don matching bandanas around their necks. (I should note here that the printed power and Bluetooth icons on our Mario figure rubbed off almost immediately and I was a bit surprised to notice that the icons on the new Luigi figure are already about halfway there, after just a few days).
While paired, synchronized movements like jumping and flipping will earn bonus coins, and the new playsets include new functions that reward collaborative play, like alternating jumping on an enemy’s vulnerable QR code or working together, like in the spinning Lakitu Sky World expansion. As we set up courses to play through, my son kept correcting me, trying to build a course optimized for both point collection, but also a logical story of each level, with color-specific regions and other elements (he added an optional bonus timer, but discouraged us from using it).
We also have a nearly 3-year-old Lego fan in the house who is still in the edible stage of Lego exploration but because the Lego Super Mario components are so much fun to play with assembled, he almost plays with us. But not quite.
There is something to the constructed nature of the assembled elements that satisfies my impulse to build a set and put it on a shelf for all time. While I have never Krazy Glue’d a Lego set together, I definitely sympathize with dad from The Lego Movie. The set offers enough creative hooks to prevent me from embracing such permanency. You can take them apart, and remix levels, all to suit your own playstyle that day … but without literally taking every piece apart, brick by brick, until it’s reassembled in some kind of non-functioning Lego horror show.
While we didn’t take advantage of the in-app Challenges for the Lego Super Mario stuff we have already, I can see us checking in on some of the building challenges now that the two of us can play together. Yes, I will still fumble some of the imagination-driven mechanics (what do you mean I can’t just pick my character up and move them wherever I want?). But the win state of these levels is, and I’m honestly sorry if this is really cheesy but let’s see if this gets edited out … the win state is just spending time playing an entirely different kind of Mario game with my son.
Oh, and before you leave, I should share just what it is Lego is releasing in August, with particular emphasis on the ridiculous Bowser’s Airship set, which is enormous and transforms and is absolutely one of those toys that some kid in school would have, sort of like that G.I. Joe aircraft carrier. The sort of mega-toy for which legend spreads apocryphally across the schoolyard. “They have what? That’s actually real?” You can pre-order both the Airship and Luigi Starter Course from Lego today, while the remaining sets will be available at retail on August 1.
- 71391 Bowser’s Airship Expansion Set (available to pre-order today) ($99.99)
- 71388 Boss Sumo Bro Topple Tower Expansion Set ($29.99)
- 71389 Lakitu Sky World Expansion Set ($39.99)
- 71390 Reznor Knockdown Expansion Set ($69.99)
- 71392 Frog Mario Power-Up Pack ($9.99)
- 71393 Bee Mario Power-Up Pack ($9.99)
- 71394 Character Packs – Series 3 (10 collectible Character Packs, including Galoomba, Parachute Bob-omb, Crowber, Boo, Amp, Torpedo Ted, Bony Beetle, 1-Up Mushroom, Scuttlebug and Swoop) ($4.99)