A quick glance at that large, cuboid-looking Super Mario complete with multi screens tells you there’s much more to LEGO Super Mario than most other LEGO themes. And, in just a week since its launch video, a wealth of brick-built Nintendo information has already followed.
Love or hate those first impressions, here are seven things you may not yet know about LEGO Super Mario.
1. The project is already over four years old
The LEGO Group has already been working on this theme for a staggering four years, as Digital Design Lead on the project, Jonathan Bennink has revealed. Typically, the LEGO Group spend between one and two years developing a theme or license before release. The last time the LEGO Group spent as long in development was on Friends, where again four years of extensive market research went into creating the now successful mini-doll-based theme.
In conversation with fan blog Brothers Brick, Jonathan explained how Nintendo and the LEGO Group first came together four-and-a-half years ago “to talk about what we could do together and where our core competencies lie.”
Work began half a year on from there, with a specific idea in mind: “We wanted to leverage what both parties are good at. For LEGO, that’s of course the brick, being creative and using your imagination. For Nintendo, it is seamless interactivity and innovation.”
2. Original LEGO Mario was a lot smaller
“About half a year into the project we made this first prototype of an interactive Mario figure,” said Jonathan. “I hope one day we get to share this with the world because I think it would be quite interesting for people to know where it came from and how it evolved. But it was basically just a tiny little brick, maybe four modules high with a screen and speakers that we put a cap on and paint red. Once we put the cap on, we were all like, ‘Yeah, that’s Mario!’ and we instantly fell in love with him as an interactive LEGO character.”
3. Expect a wardrobe change, or two
According to our sources, there will be an option to change the Mario figure’s outfit. A whole range of sets are expected for the theme and within those Brick Fanatics understands there will be lower-priced options for different outfits, with Mario’s hat and blue overalls removable.
4. New pieces!
As part of an expected large range of sets to come, there will be plenty of new pieces to look out for. Considering new two-plate-high 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 plates with rounded corners, Jonathan also mentioned to Brothers Brick of a few new pieces that LEGO Super Mario will introduce “like the shield from Bowser Jr., the feet on the Goomba, the warp pipe, and the shell of the Koopa Troopa.”
5. Mario can actually see, and it’s thanks to Nintendo…
After further research to ‘solidify’ the design of a bigger Mario figure that kids can move through brick-built levels, focus switched to the digital interactive aspect of the eponymous pixelated hero. Jonathan explained to Brothers Brick how the collaboration saw Nintendo bring the technology that includes Mario’s use of an optical sensor and colour sensor that allow him to read his brick-built surroundings.
6. …but don’t expect cross-platform interactivity
“This is because we wanted to keep the experiences very separate,” says Jonathan. “LEGO Mario is not a video game. Kids are basically role-playing a video game with the sets by building levels, but it doesn’t go into a Nintendo game, for instance.”
7. There will be more from LEGO Nintendo
“We hope to have a long and fruitful relationship with Nintendo and their IPs, and we are really looking forward to working with them on a longer-term. They have a lot of very exciting IPs that we might do or might not do,” Digital Design Lead Jonathan Bennink hinted in the interview with Brothers Brick.
Whilst otherwise unable to discuss future projects, that’s as sure a hint from Jonathan as we can get, as to what may be around the corner. What can LEGO fans expect in the future from this partnership with Nintendo? LEGO Donkey Kong, anyone? LEGO Pokémon then? LEGO Zelda? We could be in for an onslaught of pixelated brick-based builds from Nintendo’s rich catalogue of characters and games.