The Nintendo x LEGO collaboration was revealed earlier this week and it is sure to be a huge success with a number of play sets being developed. Brothers Brick recently had the opportunity to chat with Jonathan Bennink, who is the Design Manager at the LEGO Creative Play Lab and Digital Design Lead for LEGO Super Mario. Mr. Bennink says that it has simply been a dream come true to work with Nintendo on this project and it has been under careful development for four years. Read on to hear his thoughts.
Can you tell a little about yourself and how you got involved with LEGO Super Mario?
I've been at LEGO for about six years. I worked on LEGO Dimensions for the first two then got the creative lead position for the Nintendo partnership. To work as a LEGO designer is super cool, but then to work with Nintendo is a dream come true--a dream I didn't even know I had! I'm excited to see how the world is reacting to LEGO Super Mario and be able to tell my friends and family what I've been working on for four years.
How did the LEGO and Nintendo partnership come about?
I've been working on this project for four years, but about a half a year before that, leaders from both LEGO and Nintendo met up to talk about what we could do together and where our core competencies lie. We decided early on that we wanted to leverage what both parties are good at. For LEGO, that's of course the brick, being creative and using your imagination. For Nintendo, it is seamless interactivity and innovation. We wanted to make sure that when LEGO and Nintendo come together, those two big brands with lots of fans, that we do it justice.
About half a year into the project we made this first prototype of an interactive Mario figure. I hope one day we get to share this with the world because I think it would be quite interesting for people to know where it came from and how it evolved. But it was basically just a tiny little brick, maybe four modules high with a screen and speakers that we put a cap on and paint red. Once we put the cap on, we were all like, "Yeah, that's Mario!" and we instantly fell in love with him as an interactive LEGO character
But we didn't know exactly what to do with him and how to make the most of the functionality. For that, we worked with Nintendo and play-tested with kids for quite a few iterations until we solidified the idea of building levels. Essentially, you can't go wrong building levels but certain combinations and tricks will make the level better and get more coins from it. Building levels was probably the biggest revelation of the project because that is really where the core LEGO play comes in. Everything is happening in the bricks, and it's about coming up with ideas for levels and building anything that you want with the technology and interactivity that Nintendo is known for infused in it from the beginning.
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