This is the big one. The showdown. The final conflict.
The Boss Battle: After covering the rest of the LEGO Super Mario Expansion packs, we come to the final Boss Battle, with Bowser.
Mario has gone through a lot to get here: After getting Started, we passed the Piranha Plant Bower Slide, and crossed the river past the Boomer Bill Barrage. We visited Toad’s Village, and then had a little lie down in the hammock at Mario’s House. We have visited the Dungeons with Whomp’s Lava Trouble, as well as Thwomp’s Drop, We got to the Guarded Fortress, and visited the Haunted Yard. Finally the time has come to take on Bowser in the Bowser Boss Castle Battle!
This is the largest set in the range: while 71360: Adventures with Mario is the set that everyone will get, 71369: Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle is the set that many will want. Bowser is Mario’s nemesis, and leader of the turtle like Koopa race. And so it makes sense that the flagship set in the theme will involve LEGO Super Mario taking him down.
Even with all the wits and power ups at his disposal to, Mario will still need a little bit of luck to defeat Bowser.
This is a big box, and on the front, you can see just what is included for Mario to take on: a castle built around lava with a sentry tower, an outer wall and two inner towers manned by Bowser’s minions: a ghostly Boo, as well as Dry Bones – the animated skeletal remains of a Koopa Troopa There is also another lava bubble/podoboo – who can be launched into the air before scanning.
Unlike the base set, recommended for ages 6 and up, this one is recommended for those 8 and older ( along with the other larger expansion sets).
The back of the box (as has become the normal way) shows an example course integrating elements from the 71360 Adventures with Mario Starter set. It demonstrates the powers, enemies and other action elements that LEGO Super Mario can scan in the game: a Time Bonus, as well as a Question Mark Box; the enemies already mentioned and a rotating element used by Mario to defeat Bowser.
As with All LEGO Super Mario sets, building instructions are accessed through the app – which also upgrades the LEGO Super Mario Brick to recognise all of the Action tiles in the series. In order to unlock the entire instructions, you build bag 1 – one of the characters – in this case Dry Bones – and scan the tile on his back. You are then presented with instructions for the castle and enemies. The app can be used to show your score at the end, and share your LEGO Super Mario Layouts on LEGO Life, LEGO’s moderated kid safe sharing site. The App also presents weekly challenges for builders.
As a larger set, it took me several hours to put together: there are some interesting technic building techniques used, which would explain the older age group recommendation.
Lets start by looking through the construction of the landscape elements – essentially parts of the castle, then we’ll look at the characters and power-up bonuses, as well as the game play itself.
Landscape and Buildings:
Our first bag of landscape construction features lots of red elements (including 2×14 plates), as well as some place yellowish orange..flames, and landscape plates – 6×6 in red, and 4×4 in black. There are also the makings of our lava ball tucked away in here. Which is just as well, because once of the first things we do is to build a launcher that spits him into the air. We also build a small sentry tower, flanked by two bowls, with flame spurting from them.
From here, we start work on some oversized brick wall…completed in the following bag
Our next bag sees us build two short towers, with lava flowing out the window: these flank the wall we started building in the previous bag. there we build the top half of two towers. they are topped with green corner facet slopes, leading to a 2x2x2 4 facet slope brick, with Bowser’s flag on top.
Next we work to expand our towers: first we build one with two platforms on either side – essentially a lever form. Dry Bones will sit on this one.
Our next bag build a tower with a small Boo circling it: the construction here is quite clever: there is a platform tile for Mario to stand on – as it is turned, the top of the tower turns as does the Boo, faster than the platform does. I am sure this will have some implications, as well play on.
From here, we start work on the main body of Bowser’s Castle: starting with the base. there is a sturdy construction, with a number of technic bricks ensuring structural integrity. as we build up, we add a drawbridge – which is on a mechanism that allows it to slope. Although the actual trigger for this is not yet apparent.
The Drawbridge is tiled, with a raised row of tiles down the middle. We have a relatively uncommon 6×8 plate in reddish brown, as well as a 4×8.
The next bag sees us finish the base of the castle: there is an ingenious arrangement of tiles, that allows them to be flicked up and down, as a plate moves back and forth underneath. We also build two sea-saw type arrangements, that sit to the outside of the main drawbridge. On one end is a 3×3 round tile – one of the new moulds for this theme – and on the other is a powered box: a question mark on one side, and a time bonus on the other. There is also an action tile for Mario to stand on and scan, while operating the ‘sweeper’. By the way… that is a new 2×6 reddish brown tile you see there. Yes it is!
From here, we move on to complete the castle: our next few steps build up the body of a giant, stone grey Bowser Statue: Two arms, which click onto the drawbridge tilting mechanism. The Statue’s hands demonstrate the way in which different arches can nest inside each other.
Finally, we build the head of the statue. On the whole, it looks quite good, and is sturdy, but there are a couple of small dos of yellow brick visible under the statue’s new. Whether this is to represent bursting flame, or not I am uncertain. It would be an easy fix, as I do find the look somewhat distracting from an otherwise imposing appearance.
Putting all of the castle together, it looks truly formidable. but it looks a little empty: lets take a look at the characters present:
First, we build Dry Bones. As the skeletal remains of a Koopa, the construction is very similar to that of the Koopa Troopers that we have previously put together, but with a more washed out palette. The lets and arms are recoloured in mint, and the printed eyes are suitably ghastly. Other elements are now tan, and the shell has been recovered from bright green to dark stone grey.
Dry Bones is defeated with a single scan, and is worth 5 coins. He can only be scanned once in the game.
The Boo is around 3 studs cubed. It can only be defeated by Mario while in superstar mode. – this can be achieved using a star brick (not included in this set) or the question mark box. He scans for 6 coins, and can be scanned repeatedly afterwards, as time allows, for additional coins – even after the star power has gone.
He flies around the second tower, at a rate greater than the rotation of the platform.
The final bag of the set – Bag 11 – contains the elements for Bowser. Lots of green and bright yellowish orange, as well as green elements (and tan pyramids) for the shell. Bowser’s eyes and open mouth are printed, although there are a couple of ‘tooth elements’; to add in the build.
I am most intrigued by the future possibilities of the possibilities of the 1×1 modified plate with faceted frame (or some such intriguing name). this forms the basis Boserws shell. the corner slopes, and offset plates on hinges, complete the effect brilliantly.
Bowser’s legs are fixed, but his arms are attached by small ball joints.
The bulk of the build goes towards his face, using stacked tiles. His horns are ‘fang’elements, coloured tan. I think this is a brilliant rendition of Bowser, but wonder if he should have been a little larger in order to keep to scale. However… after seeing what comes n the game play, I can see that there were some necessary tradeoffs to make.
Bowser requires 10 scans to be defeated, for 15 coins. If scanned while Mario has a POW Block or star power active, one scan will do. Star Power also provides double coins – making Bowser worth up to 30 coins if defeated in battle!
There are two powers included in this set, both of which we have seen before.
The Time bonus block adds 30 seconds to the 60 seconds of game play, and cannot be rescanned during the course of the game.
The question mark block can be rescanned and has 5 options selected randomly – each option can be used once, and is then replaced by a single coin. Power ups include: a mushroom: giving Mario a life if he is pushed off a platform, or stands on lava.; 15 seconds of time bonus; star power; 5 coin bonus, and 10 coin bonus.
With the possibility to earn an extra 45 seconds of time to play the expansion, I am left wondering if it might be quite difficult to achieve!
I added a Warp pipe, as well as an exit point to the layout. There are several aspects that become obvious, Once you arrive at the ‘attach point’: you cannot scan any of the powerups, or Bowser. You can knock Dry Bones down, and scan him, but the Boo will frighten Mario, preventing him from scoring for a few seconds. And bowser is still too far away to effect an attack on.
To expose our power ups, we slam Mario onto the 3×3 round tiles: left and right. As each of the statue’s arms stay up and out of the way, the draw bridge is tilted a few degrees. this allows bowser to advance to the front of the drawbridge. Get the time bonus: you will need all the time you can get to get Bowser to fall down. Slam the question mark: if you get star power, attack the Boo. Go back to rocking the sweeper cogs back and forth: the floor beneath Bowser is vibrated up and down, and EVENTUALLY, bowser will fall down. If time allows scan the question mark a couple more times. – if you get star power, use it to scan bowser for the coin bonus.
Hopefully, the reddish brown tiles are up to the task: the pigment got a new recipe last year, hopefully making the colour more resilient that previously seen…
Here’s a video of the run-through:
This set is truly worth the title of Boss Battle – it is the most taxing expansion set to play through in the time available, even allowing for the powers included in the set.
The build is remarkably robust: and given the amount of stalling and swivelling it is going to receive, it needs to be. I was initially uninterested in this set, but after playing it a few times, it is one of my favourites. There are limited chances for Mario to be harmed in this level, but time is the real enemy. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a proper Boss Battle!
This is the ultimate Lego Mario expansion set. At over 1000 pieces, and priced at 99,99 USD/EUR – $AU149.99/$NZ169.99 – it really should be! With lots of powerups, and chances for coin bonuses, it is a challenge to play, but not so much that you might get frustrated too easily. the characters are well realised, and the physical techniques which are used to generate the game mechanics: the advancing bowser, as well as the revolving Boo, chasing the platform on his tower, are really clever.
I would certainly recommend this to anyone who has a passion for the SuperMario Mario video games. Keep an eye out for my overview guides over the next week or two… and there might be another small review or two left to do. There is plenty of action, and it feels far more frenetic compared to some of the other expansion sets I have payed over the last few weeks.
I hope this review has been useful. What do you think of this set? A must have? Too expensive? What sets would you like to get in the LEGO Super Mario theme? Leave your comments below, and until next time,
This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own.