Review: LEGO Nintendo Entertainment System is Nostalgia Magic

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The LEGO Nintendo Entertainment System was launched a few years ago, a set that is a delightful nod to nostalgia, offering a unique way to relive your favourite Nintendo console, especially for those 80s kids who now have children of their own.

This set isn’t just a toy; it’s a portal back to the days of Super Mario Bros., with a design that meticulously mirrors the original console, controller, and Game Pak cartridge, complete with a retro-styled 1980s TV. LEGO let us go hands-on with this set that is designed for 18+, but we can confirm a LEGO-experienced elementary schooler will have no problems building this set, ahead of the holidays.

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The attention to detail in this LEGO set is pretty awesome and will bring a smile to your face. You can insert the buildable Game Pak cartridge into the console, plug in the life-sized controller, and turn the handle on the TV to watch 8-bit Mario move across the screen. It’s a playful mix of modern LEGO innovation and classic Nintendo delight. The design is pretty realistic to the original and blowing into the cartridge is still optional.

While the set evokes memories, it’s also interactive. The brick-built NES is impressively realistic, featuring an opening slot for the Game Pak with a locking function and a controller complete with cable and plug. The TV, displaying a scrolling 8-bit Mario, adds an extra layer of fun.

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You can scan an action brick with a LEGO Mario figure (sold separately but we had our own to test it) to make him react to on-screen enemies and obstacles, just like in the original Super Mario Bros. game. Pretty darn cool.

This 2,646-piece set is not just for kids but also appeals to adults, especially those who appreciate a creative challenge. It’s a great way to spend some quality family time. The set is one heckuva conversation starter in your home or office. I mean come on, this is the original NES we’re talking about. Check out the bags of LEGO pieces and the two instruction booklets as well, which on their own are pretty nice:

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Here’s a close-up of the TV which even has knobs for changing the channel, video brightness and contrast knobs and more:

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You turn a little knob on the right side and the scenes of Mario will scroll across the TV, with Mario jumping and completing a level:

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Check out the back of the TV set, which even has a nod to sets from the 80s that supported the red and yellow inputs:

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No batteries are required for this set. Pair it with the LEGO Mario figure from the LEGO Super Mario Adventures with Mario Starter Course for the full interactive experience. The instructions are clear and easy to follow (well, sometimes it could highlight brick locations better).

The set also includes an illustrated booklet about the creation of the Nintendo Entertainment System and classic NES games, adding a touch of history to this nostalgic journey. It’s a nice behind-the-scenes look at how this set was created.

Here’s our Mario on top (you just remove a panel piece) that will play music from the original game as you scroll through and finish the level:

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Overall, the LEGO Nintendo Entertainment System is a wonderful trip down memory lane, offering both a fun building experience and a chance to revisit cherished memories from the world of 8-bit gaming with your family. One of my favourite parts was the ‘easter egg’ scene on the side of the system, revealed when you remove a panel:

The LEGO NES set is not cheap though, priced at $349.99 CAD (includes free gift with purchase right now from LEGO.com) and shipping by December 14, 2023. The set’s popularity remains unchanged three years later (it’s back ordered, but Amazon.ca has it in stock for 99 cents less and with Prime shipping speeds). This is a set any NES lover will enjoy to add to their LEGO collection for the holidays.

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