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LEGO Super Mario combines bricks with electronics

Earlier this week for Mario Day (10th March aka MAR10) LEGO revealed that it would be partnering up with Nintendo to create sets focused on Super Mario.

All we had to go off for that reveal was a sparse seven second video teaser, but now we have official word, images and a video to look at to see what the two companies are up to.

Instead of LEGO simply making a new range of buildable sets, something rather different is being done.

The big gimmick here is that Mario himself is represented by a stylised figurine with small screens in his chest, eyes and mouth, together with other functionality such as a speaker. Players can then take him around an obstacle course they have built, with Mario reacting to the environment.

Step in lava? A fire emblem with appear on Mario’s chest and he will explain in pain. Defeat an enemy? You’ll collect a coin complete with animation and sound effect. Mario even has a timer to let you know you have limited time to finish the level.

If that all sounds a bit abstract check out the video below.

The press release we received does not reveal exactly how this system works, but it’s safe to assume that Mario contains an NFC reader which reacts to NFC tags embedded in the plastic of LEGO pieces he can interact with.

Aside from this being an elegant way to implement the play features here, LEGO has used exactly this technology before in its now dead toys to life game LEGO Dimensions. Repurposing the  tech and using lessons learned from that failure may lead the Super Mario theme to success, aside from the draw power of the Nintendo Mascot.

We’re also interested in the two buttons on Mario’s back that you can see in the video above. One is a power switch while the other features a Bluetooth symbol. This may indicate that there is some smart device-tethered functionality here. Again, this is something LEGO is very familiar with, most recently in its Hidden Side sets which use AR and a phone app to make sets come to life.

Information like when and where you can buy Super Mario LEGO sets, and how much they will cost, have not been revealed as yet. A landing page on the LEGO.com website is available and it should be updated with more information in the future.

We highly anticipate these sets to be expensive, however. While NFC tags are relatively inexpensive (you can buy them in bulk for very little money), the electronics inside Mario will not be cheap. Hopefully Mario himself can be had as a one time purchase, and then new “levels” for you to build and him to explore can be bought separately.


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