[INTERVIEW] Jonathan Bennink over LEGO Super Mario

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Today is a beautiful day. Provided you are a fan of Super Mario and would like to work with LEGO. Because from today you can get started with LEGO Super Mario. On the eve of the release, we had the opportunity to speak to Jonathan Bennink. Jonathan works at the Creative Play Lab of LEGO. He was put on this process four years ago and went through the entire project. From the first post-it to the launch that now takes place.

Long busy with LEGO Super Mario

BECAUSE: You have been working with LEGO Super Mario for four years. Is that normal?
Jonathan: No, that is a bit longer than usual and my direct boss was not always happy with it. It is a product with technology and it takes a little longer to develop. And when you work with Nintendo, you are dealing with a company that is important to sustainability. So it was hammered from both sides that LEGO Super Mario had to be good.

Jonathan Bennink
Jonathan Bennink (Image: LEGO)

In addition, the concept of the LEGO Super Mario game is also new. Nintendo and LEGO both wanted to throw in their own element. Normally we use a franchise and make it a play theme with minifigures. But that was not enough for Nintendo. So there had to be a technology element. After a year and a half we got the green light on an interactive character. That idea was made fairly quickly, but you still have to think about what you will do with it. Most technology toys are fun for a day or two and then it ends up in a corner. And we wanted to prevent that. After a lot of testing, we came up with the idea of ​​building levels. You have a starting point and the flag where you end, but in between you can do all kinds of things. Think of collecting coins, using powerups and defeating enemies. We give suggestions on how to build levels, but in the end you can make it all up yourself.

BECAUSE: With LEGO you have sets you buy. You can build these, but you can also use the elements to make something completely different. How about LEGO Super Mario, how do you make sure you have enough replayvalue?
Jonathan: With the starter set you can also use elements with the blocks that you have at home. If you have blocks in colors such as blue, red, yellow and green, you can use them to create a level. Mario responds to this and collect coins. The replayvalue is mainly in making up, building and sharing. We think that children invite their friends to play with them and come up with certain challenges. For example, how many things can you do in a minute?

There are all hidden features in LEGO Super Mario, all of which you can discover. When you reach the finish within a second or three before the end, you will get a lot of coins. If you arrive late or, for example, ten seconds early, you will get nothing. The creativity is that we give you the tools, but you decide how you use them. We really wanted to go from display to play. Many fans buy LEGO sets to display them after building. We really want to challenge fans with this project to be creative.

BECAUSE: To what extent is this going to be a franchise within the LEGO universe?
Jonathan: It may be a little too early to talk about that. We’ve been working on this for four years and we have yet to see if people will like LEGO Super Mario. But we are looking forward to a longer partnership with Nintendo. We have not worked together for four years to do one product. You can assume that we will announce several things. But it remains to be seen whether it will be an Evergreen as we call it.

LEGO Super Mario
LEGO Super Mario (Image: LEGO)

The future

BECAUSE: The technique you have developed for LEGO Super Mario is interesting. To what extent can this be incorporated into other projects?
Jonathan: We have developed this platform. In addition to the hardware, there is of course also a layer of software under which we have invested a lot of time. It makes sense that we are looking at other ways to use this. But about the how and what is still early. Let’s see if people like this. We had a lot of fun developing and making, but it is of course the audience that has to respond to it.

BECAUSE: LEGO Super Mario is available from today. Where do you hope what’s going to happen next to high sales?
Jonathan: LEGO and Nintendo are companies that never really look at the profit figures of one year, but really go for quality in the longer term. Of course we are commercial and we hope to sell a lot, but you only have that after you put something on the market that is worthwhile. What we actually hope for is creativity. Children who have not received the typical LEGO education to take things apart and make something themselves will hopefully be encouraged to do so with LEGO Super Mario. That children do not put things together through instructions, but think for themselves about what would be fun. What would make Mario happy or scared in a level, what kind of adventure he would like to experience. How can I create a level that runs from my room to my parents’ room. Those kind of things.

LEGO Super Mario
De Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle Expansion Set (Image: LEGO)

LEGO Super Mario is available from today and can be scored here. Do you want to read more about LEGO? Then visit our overview page here.

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[INTERVIEW] Jonathan Bennink about LEGO Super Mario: ‘We want to stimulate creativity’

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