Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Last year, rumors began to circulate that a Mario/Rabbids crossover game was in development for the Nintendo Switch, and may be revealed at the Switch reveal event in January. It didn’t happen. Then, before E3, leaked artwork for the game was found on the internet, and the people responded…negatively. But when E3 2017 came around and gameplay was shown, not only were people blown away by the title, it was clear that it was something special. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has now been released unto the world, and believe me when I say, it’s great.
Game Name: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Release Date: August 29th, 2017
Price: $59.99 | Nintendo.com
For those who haven’t played the Rabbids games, they’re basically very insane and personality filled rabbits, and they’ve gotten into some VERY wacky adventures over the years. But, they’re in a separate universe than Mario…so how did they come together for this game? Well, it’s very well explained actually, and it’s going to make you laugh at just how perfect it is. I won’t spoil the intro, but I will say that the Rabbids washing machine does get involved.
Once the worlds of Mario and the Rabbids mix together, the result is something oddly beautiful. There are Rabbids everywhere, and the once very simple Mushroom Kingdom has become an amalgamation of items that makes every single area very unique. Make no mistake, this game is very beautiful, and the Switch brings out the details very well, props to the Ubisoft team for making the game both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
But of course, the crux of the game is the adventure itself, right? Well, Mario and his friends must team up with four “cosplaying” Rabbids in order to find a certain Rabbid who is the cause of all their problems, but of course, things don’t go as planned and a classic Mario villain drops in to shake things up. All the while, we’re guided by a new character named Beep-0, and a mysterious 3rd party who wants us to succeed in separating the worlds again.
Speaking of shaking things up, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle shakes up the Mario formula in a big way by making everything turned-based strategy. Battles are turn-based like certain Mario RPGs, but how you go about the battles places more like XCOM, a reference many are happily noting. You’d think that this would be a down part, but in fact, it’s really clever and plays really well.
Not the least of which is because the games 8 characters play VERY different. Different kinds of blaster weapons and guns (which are explained as to why they wield them) along with different power sets and skill trees make every single character something special. Also though, the variety allows for different kinds of teams and strategies based on how you play. Like long range strikes? Then Yoshi, Rabbid Luigi, and Luigi may be for you. Prefer to be up close and personal? Then use Peach’s shotgun weapon to obliterate foes. Prefer a healing style? Mix the two peaches with Mario and you’ll always have a healer nearby, there’s a ton of options, and it’s great.
But what’s variety without a challenge, right? The Rabbids may be your friends, but they’re also your foes here, and they evolve and get stronger with each world. The A.I. in this game is on point, and it will push you to your limits. And I’m not just talking bosses and mini-bosses, I’m talking the grunts too. There’s a variety of enemies that have different skill sets, and some of them are extremely tough and need to be planned for accordingly.
Which brings us to the levels themselves. For each stage is unique, every single one, and you’ll need to not only plan for how to beat the enemy Rabbids but also, how to use the stage itself to your advantage. Pipes will take you to different sections of the stage, shooting from the highground will grant you more damage, you can take cover behind blocks and other objects to potentially shield yourself from damage, it’s deep and detailed.
This also applies to the depth of the skills and items for your characters. I already talked about the skill tree, but there’s truly a lot to mention about it. Upgraded health, movement, item powers, you can upgrade many things. And if you felt you did something wrong, you can actually reset everything in the skill tree and start all over!
As for weapons, all characters have a primary and secondary weapon, and each has their pros and cons, as well as abilities. You’ll buy and upgrade these weapons so that you can be the ultimate threat on the battlefield, and it’s awesome to see just how powerful your characters can be.
Still not enough for you? Well, the sprawling levels are filled with secrets and items for you to find, even adding the classic Mario “coin collection” minigame to bring you more treasure chests. There’s are even more challenges for you to complete after you complete a world. This way you can gain more abilities through the skill tree. So when you’re “done” with a world – you aren’t done with the world.
Oh! Almost forgot about the humor, this game has plenty of epic moments (Princess Peach’s battlefield arrival in World 2 for example), but there’s humor abound in this title. From what the Rabbids are doing in the world as you travel, to cutscenes that show off the personalities of the Rabbids in your party, to tongue-in-cheek jokes, it’s all great stuff. Yeah, some of it is gratuitous, but it will make you smile in the end.
All that being said, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is not perfect, by any means. While there’s a LOT of things in the game (as I’ve mentioned above), not all of it is explained. At one point I didn’t realize that Rabbid Peach had to have her first secondary weapon bought (the others were just given to me) and I went on for battles without having her have one. Once I figured it out, I wished I had it sooner, would’ve saved some trouble.
Also, while the enemy Rabbids are vast and varied, there are a few that seem a little too overpowered. They have this uncanny ability in the world when it comes to finding ways to hit the players, ways I don’t think my characters have. This will cause frustration, especially for newer players to the strategy genre.
Finally, while the controls are tight for the most part, there is so much to remember in terms of the control scheme at times that sometimes you’ll accidentally press the wrong button and you’ll get screwed (and potentially have to start over) as a result.
Though there are issues, and frustrations, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is by far one of the most unique titles I’ve ever played. It’s fun, funny, very detailed, and is truly a passion project from the team at Ubisoft.
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Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Review
With tight and brilliant gameplay, fun scenes featuring both Mario and Rabbids characters, a very detailed world, and challenges that’ll keep you coming back, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch.