Saturday, September 26, 2015

Super Mario Maker: Three of My Levels to Try!

Although this is a LEGO themed blog, I also want to use this space to showcase some of my other related hobbies and games.  One such game that is taking up a lot of my free time right now is Super Mario Maker for the WiiU.  Since that is a game that relies on building (Mario levels in this case), it still fits in with my "playing with bricks" theme of the blog!

Anyhow, I have created a bunch of levels - and I thought it'd be fun to showcase a couple of those (complete with the course ID in case you want to try them).

My first course to show off is called Secret Sunny Stroll with course ID 948F-0000-005A-CB1D.

This level is a Super Mario World themed level complete with .  As of 9/26, people had awarded this course a grand total of two stars (boo) with only 1 clear in 58 attempts.  I don't actually think this level is nearly as hard as those totals would suggest however!

When I made the Secret Sunny Stroll level, I wanted to have a course with multiple paths to the finish.  Immediately upon starting the level, you are faced with a choice - do you go up or down.  I'm not a fan of courses where one choice automatically kills you - so in my level you can successfully complete the level going in either direction!

Once you choose a route, you'll be "gated" into that route so that you can't backtrack (so choose wisely)!  Of course, if you die you can always start over and try the alternate route.  Either way, this course will eventually lead you to an airship - and then back to the finish after a tussle with a number of bad guys!  Lots of fun platforming with some minor puzzle elements should make for a pretty fun level.

My second course for today's post is called Secret Caverns with course ID 1401-0000-0022-00C6.

This level is a Super Mario Bros U style underground course.  This has been one of my more popular levels - 21 clears in 199 attempts which is good for a 10.55% clear rate (fairly high).

And finally, a level I called Five Boss Fire Brawl with course ID 8F24-0000-005F-4CCA.

I always enjoyed "boss battle" levels in games when I was a kid - so this level is an homage to that spirit.  There are, as you can guess, five boss battles to complete in this level.  As of the time I wrote this post, this course has been cleared once in 26 attempts (good for a 3.84% clear rate).  I find this course pretty fun to play - you get to battle Bowser (of course) but also some bad guys in clown cards, some Magikoopas, and even a room full of pipes of never ending turtles an spinys (use the turtle shells to your advantage).

The bomb and little tunnel on the right serve as the gate to the next boss battle.  You need to stay alive long enough for the bombs to clear the way for you!  You can also see that this room is boss battle #4 - I like using coins to label things sometimes!

If you try any of my levels, please let me know what you think of them!  And, if you have created some of your own levels - let me know about them in the comments.  Feel free to leave your course ID (and a brief description of your level) and I'll try it out!

Monday, September 7, 2015

LEGO 21020: Trevi Fountain - REVIEW

Last week, I teased my newest purchase - the LEGO 21020 Trevi Fountain set.  I bought the set because I have had the good fortune of actually seeing Trevi Fountain in person and so I thought it's be a fun addition to my collection.

Before I begin the review, I must be honest.  Until seeing the Trevi Fountain set, I had very little interest in the LEGO Architecture line.  The entire line seemed to be mostly devoid of color - and building in micro scale has never appealed to me.  That said, I decided to give the Trevi Fountain set a try since the set does have at least a little color (thanks to the water of the fountain) and I was able to get the set for about half of what it costs in retail thanks to eBay.

As I feared, the vast majority of the set was indeed plain white (or plain grey) bricks - but there was enough blue to keep things somewhat interesting.  Also that orange thing is the brick separator.  I'm getting quite a collection of those little tools!

Moving on to the actual build, you begin by placing the lone printed piece in the set (the one that says Trevi Fountain) and then continue to build the outside frame.  I was happy that the nameplate was printed and not a sticker!  The blue 1x1 bricks in the back are actually only going to be visible from the back of the model (which you'll see in a bit).

The next step is to place all the trans blue "water" pieces.  As you can see, there is a LOT of water to place...and in a few steps there will be even more water for the fountain portion!

By this point in the build, the water is mostly complete (save for a couple of trans blue bricks on some of the not-yet-built rock structures.  You can see the waterfall of the fountain is also built - and so is the back of the structure.  Notice that LEGO did use one big piece (the hollow back white wall piece) in the set.  The main statue of the fountain will actually sit in front of that hollowed out spot which gives the model a nice sense of depth when all is said and done.

At this point, the model is almost totally done - only the detailing on the roof remains to be completed.  You can see a lot of jumper tiles - the roof actually uses jumpers on jumpers which results in something that looks good but ends up being not nearly as sturdy as the average LEGO set.

And finally, 731 pieces later we get the completed model!  It's a nice looking structure that I think does a good job at mimicking the source material (especially given the small scale of the model).  The two horse statues in the fountain area both look nice but are extremely fragile.  I think I knocked each one off at least once during the taking of this photograph!

From the back, you can see that there isn't actually much to see with the model.  The trans blue pieces allow some light to pass through the model to the front but otherwise it's pretty dull back there.  That's ok though as the real Trevi Fountain has a full building "behind" it - something that wouldn't really make sense to build in the same LEGO set unless you were trying to recreate all of Rome!

The extra pieces in the set are minimal - basically your usual 1x1 tiles (square and round) plus the brick separator.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  1
Play Value:  1
Kid Value:  2
Adult Value:  5
Overall:  8

In the case of the Trevi Fountain set, it's safe to say that the whole is worth way more than the sum of the parts.  There are very few rare or unique pieces in the set - and those that are (the all white shield for instance) are totally boring and wouldn't have a lot of uses outside something like this set anyhow.  There is virtually no play value in the set so I wouldn't recommend buying this set for a child unless that kid has some sort of fascination with fountains...or Rome.  For adults, I wouldn't recommend this set at full retail price - the majority of the pieces are really small so the price-per-piece idea isn't a good gauge.  Instead, if you can get this set on sale, go for it - it does look quite nice when it's complete.  If not, you could probably use Brick Link or even eBay and create your own Trevi Fountain and save some money along the way!

I still gave the set an 8 overall because it does a great job of doing what it is supposed to be doing.  It's a pretty good replica of Trevi Fountain in LEGO form - and yes, the lack of color is boring but it's true to the source material (which is the important part).

One more note - if you do ever find yourself in Rome and at the Trevi Fountain make sure you are aware of pickpockets.  The area around the fountain is PACKED with people (it's a very small square to stand in) and pickpockets have the run of the place.  I was with a tour group and we had one lady who did get pickpocketed!