We have entered the 4th year of LEGO® Super Mario releases: First we met Mario, and learned to play against the clock. In 2021, we were introduced to Marios bigger brother, Luigi, and learned to play together. Last year, we met Princess Peach, and learned to share gifts with each other with each other. With each year, we have seen new and innovative ways to play as well as a new range of buildable characters.
This year, it feels a little different: There is no new Electronic Smart Character, and no set of Collectable, Buildable Fuigures. We have two subthemes of sets: one takes us back to the earliest days of Nintendo’s electronic entertainment, with Donkey Kong, and his subsequent adventures; and another featuring more Koopalings in flying ships.
Today, we will take a hands-on look at the first of these sets: 71424 Donkey Kong’s Tree House. This is the only set to feature the buildable Donkey Kong, as well as his Grandfather – Cranky Kong. According to lore, Cranky Kong is in fact the original Donkey Kong from the Arcade Game all those years ago. After All these years, I wonder if he has any misgivings towards Mario…
Before we start.
With every wave of LEGO Super Mario, there are new game mechanics and new sets and tiles to be scanned. And so, if you have played with LEGO Super Mario previously, you will know that he needs to be upgraded to recognise the new tiles and elements in gameplay. If Mario tries to scan a new tile, he will give a buzz and display a ‘download ‘ icon on his chest screen. A new version of the App has been available since the last week of July. As with previous versions, it is required to upgrade Mario’s firmware and provide instructions – both for the construction of the models and videos demonstrating the flow of play. You need to connect Mario to your phone or tablet by pressing the Bluetooth button on the back. Downloading the firmware takes a few minutes.
Your updated Smart Brick (Mario, Luigi and Peach) is not only ready to scan the new tiles, but has also developed a few changes in their resting behaviour: if you leave Mario, Luigi or Peach standing still for about a minute or so, they will start to hum the ‘Super Mario’ theme music to them selves. If two smart bricks are paired for cooperative play, they will sing to each other, swapping between lines of the tune as they sing!
Let’s look at the
71424 Donkey Kong’s Treehouse Expansion Set
This is probably the ‘Must Have’ set of the wave, being the only one to contain Donkey Kong. In addition to the bulked up Donkey Kong, we have the wizened Cranky Kong. It is fair to say that the years have not been kind.
Cranky Kong is the Aged patriarch, and as we mentioned, he and Mario have History. He is built up with a 2×3 base. With a long white beard, and a printed eye/face element. His nose is made of two 1×2 half-arch bricks, one of which has a nose print. Studs to the side allow his beard to extend outwards. Cranky Kong’s arms (as with all of the smaller apes in this wave, are extended curved arms, with tan hands at the end.
There is no scannable tile (action brick) on his person, but there is on the base he stands on.
Cranky Kong is not that happy to see Mario: he remembers the past, and is one to harbour. agrudge. How do you think he became cranky in the first place…
In game play, when Mario attempts to greet Cranky Kong, there is no response, despite his efforts to extend the hand of friendship to his old nemesis. Cranky Kong only warms to Mario if offered a bunch of bananas, or other fruit (from last year’s sets). When that happens, drums will sound, and Mario will be awarded 10 coins.That said, despite no previous baggage with Luigi or Peach, the behaviour is the same if they are playing instead of Mario.
Repeat scans of Cranky Kong only award coins if you have a gift for him.
Donkey Kong is just what you would expect: he stands taller than Cranky Kong, and feels like a large brick built- Big-Fig. His feet that allow for significant dorsiflexion, so he has the appropriate gorilla stance. He wears a fabric tie around his neck. I always found it to be a little stiff, poking out on an odd angle.
The front of his face involves two 1×4 arched bricks with rounded ends. There is also a single quarter (1×1) in reddish brown, which makes up part of his unique coiffe. A printed 2×3 tile gives us his expressive eyes.
I really like the way that his chest and abdomen are sculpted, using the combination of rounded 2×4 tile, as well as two tapered 1×2 curved slopes. The final look is quite effective. Likewise, the muscular build up of his arms and legs is quite impressive.
Scoring: you can scan a tile to greet Donkey Kong, he laughs, and you will receive around 5 points. If you have picked up a bunch of bananas or similar fruit, you gain around 10 coins for gifting the food and saying hello
But Saying ‘Hi’ is not the only way that Mario and Donkey Kong can interact.. There is an inverse tile in the middle of DKs’s back, which hides a socket joint: there is a small tray with a ball joint on which can plug into this space. there is an action tile on this tray which is triggered when DK is carrying Mario. The Donkey Kong theme music starts playing and continues to do so until it is finished. Unfortunately, no additional coins are awarded for moving DK along while carrying Mario. However, there. is a great ‘thud’ or galloping sound if you strike Mario/DK on the ground. You might gain some coins when walking, but it. is not a significant amount.
Donkey Kong’s House
The rest of the construction in this set is dedicated to building Donkey Kong’s house, which appears as a bamboo hut with an open back. The roof is covered with a new leaf elemts (also seen in DREAMZzz), in tan (and framed by palm trees, featuring the same element in Green.) Above the door is a Printed tile that reads ‘Kong’. Inside the hut, we see a brick-built Television and radio, while a dish containing a banana awaits. There are a couple of old tyres lying around for DK to jump on, or store bananas in.
We finish off adding a retro TV and tape player to to the living area.
An action tile on the back of the house floor allows Mario to Greet Donkey Kong, much as he did Cranky Kong earlier. This resembles how Mario greets various forms of Yoshi and Toad in earlier expansion packs. Different greetings are awarded different numbers of coins – Typically 2- 5coins, add another 5 if you bring bananas to share.
Behind the hut’s floor is a red button, which allows Mario to fling open a trap door in the hut’s floor – pushing DK out through the front door. Also a handy-dandy place to store random bananas!
Other interactive elements
One is the Palm tree: Mario can jump onto the base to make a bunch of bananas fall.As we have mentioned, Mario can scan the barcode on the underside. A bunch of bananas appear on his chest screen, and they can. begifted to any character capable of receiving gifts. After greeting them (Donkey Kong or Cranky Kong in this set) he says ‘For you’ or “You’re Welcome” and the bananas are eaten. As I mentioned earlier, the Gifting Bananas/Greeting can award up to 10 coins.
Typically, 3 bonus coins are awarded in game for scanning the finish tile within the time limit. In my best-effort game so far, I performed 8 banana feeding transactions in one minute, resulting in a score of around 83 coins. It gains points, but isn’t necessary a whole heap of fun!
Strike up a beat on the Bongos
There is also a set of bongos: by landing on the action tile, we hear Mario strike up a bongo beat, which continues for a moment even if you move him. There are yellow and orange tiles next to this central tile, which gives us additional drumming effects. This is all great fun, but you need to play the drums for around 15 seconds to be awarded a cheer and 10 coins. If you do any other point scoring activites in this time, you miss out on the bonus.
Kick back and relax on the hammock
We also have a small hammock where Mario or DK can go to sleep and rest briefly before running off into the jungle. It’s not worth any points.
Overall, there is limited scope to earn coins while playing this level in a timed game. A few coins are awarded for greeting each of the great apes, 5 more each time you share a banana, and additional points for riding on DK, and playing the bongos.
Playing with only the elements in this set, I peaked at around 83 coins, but this merely involved repeated scanning of bananas and scanning either DK’s or Cranky Kong’s action tile – not an especially engaging way to earn coins. However, the model of Donkey Kong is magnificent, and Cranky is also appropriately cranky looking.
Here is a play through of the complete level… you need a copy of Adventures with Mario to get the full effect.
If you want to build the LEGO Donkey Kong figure, my opinion is irrelevant: you will get this set at some point! I really like the way he is shaped
At $95.95AUD for 555 pieces, its a marker of the number of larger parts involved in putting this set together. If you shop around, you might find it for a more reasonable price (at the time of writing, Myer (Australia) were selling this set for $80AUD.)
The Tree house Expansion set is now available, although it might be temporarily sold out in some areas. You can contribute to the ramblingbrick by purchasing LEGO sets using our affilliate links:
Compared with earlier LEGO Super Mario waves, this set, and others in the wave feel far more like play sets than ‘gaming sets’ – when incorporated in a timed game, there is little opportunity to earn coins in a fresh and inspiring manner. Indeed, most of the points to earn with this expansion set can be found using the ‘share’ game mechanic. Unfortunately, it feels like quite a grind. to et a reasonable total. the tasks associated with the set are difficult to complete within the one minute allotted time, and I felt a little disappointed that there were not Bonus blocks (Star power; Question mark Block, , Time Bonus) included in the set: the option exists to use a question mark block from. the starter set.
Overall, there is plenty of scope for Mario, Luigi or Peach to interact with the characters in this layout, however It overall feels like an interactive toy, rather than part of a larger game. I’ll take a look at the other Super Mario sets from this wave over the next few weeks.
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This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own.