71387 Adventures with Luigi: Hands-On Review

Around 12 months ago, we got our first look at the functionality of LEGO Super Mario. This hybrid game system, borne from the collaboration between the LEGO Group and Nintendo, has brought us the Interactive Mario Brick, which responds to the way it is handled, as well as the environment it is played in.

At the start of 2021, we saw a second wave of sets, as well as further buildable characters.

At the time that Mario was launched, the design team was asked about the possibility of Luigi joining the lineup. The response at the time was a little guarded. No point launching a two player mode until you had established that the platform would be accepted.

And Now Luigi is almost here. Due for release in August, I was fortunate to be able to take part in a preview event along with other Fan Media.

Today, we will take a look at 71387 Adventures with Luigi – the new starter set. We will look at the characters, as well as the landscape and obstacles, as well as the play features.

There is of course one other thing that LEGO Super Mario has coming up with the release of Luigi, and the software update that will accompany it: two player mode. We will take a look at how this is a little bit different, as well as the additional ways you can maximise your score playing with this mode.

Coming up over the next week or two I will look at a couple of other expansion sets I have had the opportunity to explore: 71389 Lakitu’s Sky World and 71391 Bowser’s Airship. And maybe also the 71393 Bee Mario Power-up.

Whats In The Box?

71387 Adventures with Luigi Starter Set comes in similar Packaging to the Adventures with Mario starter set.

Lets take a look at the 280 pieces included in the set:

There are a few obvious elements to mention: the Luigi Brick, as well as the trousers, hat and other tiles to complete the figure (including several tiles in light nougat)

We get a new launch pip – again in bright green. We have biome plates – square plates with rounded corners – in 3 colours: yellow, nougat and deep lilac. These represent three different environments: Desert, Stone and Soda Swamp. Of these three, the stone is a newly introduced biome. We also have several plates in these colours. We do not have any of the colours used in the original Mario Starter set: Green (grass), Blue (water) and Red (lava)

We have several printed elements, including a finish line flag; eyepieces and a question mark box. We also have the scannable barcodes which are used to score coins – representing different characters, obstacles and transport mechanisms. There are also a variety of elements in Green, sand green and dark tan which, looking at the packaging, appear to build up towers.

Luigi will recognise all of the parts in the box without futher updating, however, if he is to recognise other LEGO Super Mario levels or take part in two player games, he will have to have his firmware updated first.

This is done by installing the LEGO Super Mario app on either a mobile phone or tablet, and then connecting to the app using the bluetooth button on the back of Luigi. The app is only NEEDED for updating the character’s firmware. This process takes a little longer than you think it should.

It is USEFUL for providing the building instructions, as well as keeping catalog of the sets you have, providing inspiration for builds, and sharing your level designs. It also gives you a breakdown of the scores at the end of the game. I was initally working with a pre-release version of the App, which only had the firmware update functionality. The ‘up to date’ version has just been released in the iOS app store, and I also presume the Google Play Store.

Step one after unpacking and Bluetoothing your new Luigi: Upgrading the Firmware.

Looking at Luigi.

Luigi is modules bricks wide, and 3 deep, just like Mario. However, his head is one plate taller. There is also a slight indercut of the mould on Luigi’s chin, resulting in the appearance of a 5 o’clock shadow.

The brothers have eyebrows angled in different ways, as well as differently shaped moustaches and hairstyles. Luigi is taller, and this look is enhanced by the cut of Luigi’s trouser element, and also by making his shoes ever so slightly narrower.

As far as the electronics are concerned, Luigi has a different voice to Mario, as well as slightly different vocalisations. However, he is otherwise running the same code, scoring the same points and responding to landscape in the same way. They both have the power and bluetooth buttons on their backs. As such, all behaviours introduced in the latest firmware are consistent between characters.

Landscape Biomes:

There are three landscape elements included with the Luigi Starter set: Sand, Stone and Soda Swamp.

There appears to be no significant difference to the character while strolling through the first two, beyond the sound they make as they walk along. Soda Swamp, introduced in the second wave of sets early this year, is poisonous to our heroes: The longer they spend in contact in contact, our character becomes unwell, ultimately entering a ‘no-coin state’ – where no coins can be collected through normal activity. Soda poisoning can be reversed by ‘shaking it off’ – literally shaking the character – or washing it off (standing in water).

There are some other elements in the landscape that we build up – several towers, with stone biomes on top. There is also a small tower, with tiles on top. This will serve as a base for Boom Boom, the Koopaling included in this set.

The Characters

There are three characters to build in this set: Pink Yoshi; Bones Goomba and Boom Boom.

Construction is fairly similar to green Yoshi, but the behaviour is quite different.

Pink Yoshi serves as a ridable character: after Mario or Luigi scan’s Yoshi’s tile, a picture of Yoshi appears on the chest screen. Riding Yoshi seems to triple the points gained from simple (single scan enemies), but not Boom Boom.

If Luigi falls over – where he might have previously entered a no coin state, Luigi moves off the screen, and the bonus is lost.

Bones Goomba is very similar to the similar character seen in the second series of Buildable Characters. this version features the same prints, but has a new mould for its let element, taking a casual step along.

Bones Goomba is defeated by a single scan, and is worth one point. Three points if you are riding Pink Yoshi at the time.

Boom Boom, one of the Koopalings, functions as the ‘Boss Character’ on this level. It takes 8 scans to defeat Boom Boom, yeilding 8 points. If you are riding Yoshi at the time, there is NO coin bonus. A star bonus scores double points – yielding 16 coins.

Action Bricks

Of course, it wouldnt be LEGO Super Mario without tiles providing other actions. We have some old favorites, as well as some new ones.

To start with, this set provides another normal Start and ‘Goal’ tile.

Scanning go sets the clock to 60 seconds, in single player mode, or 90 seconds in two player mode. Having another source of these tiles is great if you are looking to set up multiple levels in your home.

Another returning favoite is the question mark box. This block can be scanned up to 5 times in a course ( all ? boxes have the same code, so you can set several up 0). Rewards include 5 and 10 coins, Super Mushroom power, star power and a 15 second time bonus. Star power runs for 10 seconds, and offers several bonuses, including invincibility (should you fall over, or stand in lava or soda); pausing the timer, and double points. If the randomiser comes up with an item previously awarded, you only get a single coin. So…you can keep scanning it, but don’t waste too much time!

Gear Blocks

These are new, and come in several forms…

The small gear functions as a transporter, but can also engage with gears attached to other [parts of the course, such as the teeter totter, or large gear.

As a transporter, you will start to hear a noise as if Mario or Luigi are pedaling, although if you do a rapid take off, they will sound as if they are peddling faster

One revolution through 360º will give you a gold coin. Scoring is not affected by riding Yoshi, nor is it doubled if you have star power.

The larger gear gives the same scoring for rotation, but none for transporting. Also, not affected by star power or riding Yoshi. However, the initial game design suggests using the larger cog as a mount for Boom Boom’s tower in the first instance – see below for how it can be integrated with this.

Obstacles: the Spinning See-Saw

This simply constructed obstacle is intriguing. We place a large gear on an 8×8 biome plate, with a turntable. This allows it to be turned with a gear on the next biome, if one is present. There is a central pillar, with a see-saw half way up. the whole mechanism can spin. Spinning is worth 1pt per revolution on the centre, or two points on the outside. A point for up or down (2 for both). I found that it I was combining a revolution with an up and down, I was scoring around 5-6 points per revolution.

You do need to be careful to ensure that your character does not fall off the teeter totter as it rotates.

The game play probably flows best with this see-saw placed adjacent to the tower that Boom Boom is standing on. As it spins, it can knock the tower – causing it to spin, or rock. In turn, Boom Boom can fall!

Playing together.

The highlight of adding Luigi to the line up is that two player games are now an option. It does not need to be Mario and Luigi: It can also be two of either brother. First you ensure they both have up to date firmware.

Then link them by pressing the bluetooth button on the back of each of ‘Smart Brick’. When you do, they greet other, and a yellow scarf appears around each of their necks, with a Bluetooth Woggle. You can start a game by placing just one character into the start tube. And at this stage you discover the first bonus: the two player game automatically starts at 90 seconds, rather than the normal 60.

The fun comes with cooperative play, which grants each character 1 coin bonus, as well as a short lived thumbs up on the screen. There are several ways in which the characters can earn cooperative points:

  • Mirror activity: in this set, bouncing up and down on the see-saw earns bonus points. Likewise both riding on the platforms: one point each per rotation, plus a co-op point each per rotation
  • Jump on an enemy one after another: subsequent strikes of a single hit enemy (eg Bone Goomba) ; or alternating strikes of a multiple hit enemy such as Boom Boom.
  • Have each character on a platform of some sort
  • Reach the goal within 10 seconds of each other

Heres a playthrough of both single and double player games.

In Conclusion

The addition of Luigi to the LEGO Super Mario Range was a real no Brainer. It does feel that this starter set does not have quite as much on offer as the Mario Starter Set released last year, and I would continue to recomment that you purchase that set as the entry level into the system. However, If you are trying to get two children to play together, Luigi adds some novel game play, and all of this wave of sets are tailored for Two Players.

The App has just been updated as I type: It now includes building and play instructions for the new wave of sets, as well as ways to share your layouts on LEGO Life. Unfortunately, at present, the breakdown of how coins are scored seems to be in disagreement with the Mario/Luigi Brick, and the total coins do not always equal the sum of coins awarded in the breakdown.

That said, the new See-Saw mechanism is an interesting Challenge. I appreciate the way in which Mario and Luigi score points for cooperative play, while the physical challenge of knocking Boom Boom off his tower is an interesting mechanism. It is also great to know that cooperative play will work with two ‘smart bricks’ regardless of the character involved – in case you already have 2 Mario Bricks in the house hold.

I give this set 3.5 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise units. I would have liked to see some more challenges in the game. The see saw/rotating platform is great, but it appears to be the only play feature, with the exception of the gear platform. Of course, adding some extra gears in a creative way might make things quite… interesting.. Of course, this should be possible!

That said, the 2 player game is fun, even on your own! The scores tend to be much more thatn 2x the score of the single player game, not the least of which is because of the extra time available.

Adventures with Luigi goes on sale August 1, but is available for prepurchase in many markets through LEGO.com.

What do you think if this starter set? Have you been waiting for Luigi since last year?

Leave your comments below, and until next time,

Play Well.

This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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