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It’s probably best to avoid thinking too deeply about the relationship between Lego and Minecraft. There’s a real danger in pondering how the plastic blocks inspired the sandbox video game before they ultimately merged into real-world Lego Minecraft a few years ago. Deep thought on this loop could lead to a rift in the space-time continuum.
It’s best to go with the flow instead, and accept that Lego Minecraft is part of our reality. How much further down this intertwining rabbit hole might these two properties go in the future? A video game based on Lego Minecraft? A Lego set based on that game? That’s best left for philosophers. The rest of us should just enjoy the ride.
Fortunately, that’s easy to do with the new Lego Minecraft Mountain Cave. At 2,863 pieces, it’s a mammoth, multi-leveled set. As the biggest addition to the line so far, it’s sure to take even skilled builders many hours or even several days to construct. All those pieces also means it has tons of playability built in. And, just like the video game itself, it’s got that simple, blocky, pixelated aesthetic.
Put it all together and it adds up to a must-have for Minecraft Lego fans.
The Mountain Cave is fittingly built around a mine cart track, which twists and turns its way through the set’s multiple levels. The ground level is situated inside a cave filled with spider webs and treasure chests, with the tracks leading to an elevator that takes the cart up to the top of the mountain. A knob mechanism cranks the elevator up and down.
From the top, the track then winds its way back down the outside of the mountain, past sword-wielding skeletons, cave spiders, wolves and slime monsters, before ultimately ending up back inside the cave. Never mind Minecraft, it’s almost like a Lego roller coaster.
The mountain houses several secret chambers too, with more treasure chests and surprises to be discovered by Steve and Alex, the two block-headed, armor-clad mini-figures.
Aside from the working cart elevator, the mountain also has a few switch-activated collapsing areas too. You can’t really have a mine without the threat of falling walls and ceilings, after all.
The set’s niftiest feature is its elongated light brick, which emits a red glow when pushed. The brick can be inserted into slots built into the mountain, where it illuminates several translucent features, including a rotating spider-spawner, red crystal wall and cave entrance torch.
Other Lego sets have had working lights incorporated into them, but it works particularly well here. The glowing lights add a bit of life to the gloomy cave interior.
The Mountain Cave is also highly modular. Large sections, including all of the exterior cart tracks, can be easily removed and reattached in different configurations. The instruction book even suggests a few possibilities, which is enough to spark the imagination into thinking up new layouts.
It’s a smart addition not typically found in other Lego sets, but it also feels right with this set. Lego and Minecraft are both fundamentally sandboxes for imagination and creativity, so it makes sense to encourage builders to go beyond the basic instructions
Of course, it also goes without saying that all Lego is modular to begin with, which brings us back to that space-time head scratcher.
Again, it’s best not to think about it and instead enjoy the fact that the Mountain Cave faithfully recreates Minecraft’s simple plug-and-play aesthetic, reality be damned.
Peter Nowak is a technology reporter whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail and the CBC. He was the 2009 recipient of the Excellence in Science and Technology Reporting award from the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance. Nowak lives in Toronto and is the author of two books, including Humans 3.0: The Upgrading of the Species.