The Nintendo Switch has been a great hit for Nintendo ever since it was released back in March. The cadence of games that we receive every month are all top-notch titles and it looks like it will continue through the rest of 2017. While everyone is patiently waiting for Super Mario Odyssey, there’s this one game from Ubisoft, which is a Mario game as well, that has gotten quite the interest of Mario fans ever since it was announced back at E3. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a collaboration title of Ubisoft and Nintendo that brings both the characters from the Mario and Rabbids franchises into one extravagant strategy-RPG adventure for the Nintendo Switch. At first, the collaboration may seem weird and an odd experiment but after playing countless hours, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle will be the next Switch game that everyone should consider in picking up as it’s a strong contender for Game of the Year.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle follows the story of the Rabbids and the characters from Super Mario in their journey to save the Mushroom Kingdom from the rabbids who turned against each other after being zapped by the SupaMerge helmet that has the ability to merge two things into one, which was used by another Rabbid. Players must venture through several different worlds in the Mushroom Kingdom to stop the helmet from further causing harm to the Kkingdom and eventually stop it from falling into the hands of none other than Bowser. Storywise, the game doesn’t have that deep of a story that you come to expect in a strategy-RPG, though thanks to the witty nature of the Rabbids, they manage to make the campaign of the game more enjoyable and comical.
Not all of the Rabbids in the game are bad. In fact, there are several Rabbids that will join the cast of Super Mario, who happen to be the Rabbid versions of themselves. These Rabbid versions of the Super Mario characters have their own unique skills and will offer a resemblance to the original. Rabbid Mario, Rabbid Luigi, Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Yoshi have all their own persona that will guide Mario and the gang in saving the Mushroom Kingdom. Out of all the four playable Rabbids, Rabbid Peach is always taking the center stage in providing humor to the campaign as she will have this attitude where she’s always like competing with the real Princess Peach whenever you see them together. The funny and humorous nature of the Rabbids makes the game so much fun to play.
Unlike the Mario titles we are all accustomed to which is platforming, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a turn-based strategy RPG that puts up to 3 characters in a battlefield with other Rabbids. Those who have played XCOM will see a resemblance in the game, though Ubisoft makes sure that it’s much deeper and of course better.
For the most part, objectives in every mission are defeating all enemies, with a few escort missions and guiding characters to a certain spot in the map. Before the start of the mission, you will be given a chance to plan ahead by looking at the skills and moves of the Rabbids. Once you are all set, you can then commence the battle. Controlling the characters are simple, move them around to the allowed cells that they are allowed to move. If at some point you hover on top of the other characters, you will have an opportunity to carry and throw them to the desired location. When an enemy is on sight, you can then attack them or if you wish, use a skill first.
Each of the characters that you can use have their own set of unique skills like the Rabbid Peach specializing in Healing while Mario specializes in full raw damage. The variety of skills each characters can use adds flair and uniqueness to the combat, making it more fun and challenging. It’s important that you spend time analyzing each of them as they will be great help in battle. For the first few missions, you will find them to be easy but it gets harder and complicated as you go deeper into the game – don’t let the pretty and cutesy graphics fool you though. If at some point you find yourself with low health and no mushroom in sight to replenish their HP, you can set the next mission to engage to an Easy Mode that will heal your characters. As far as weapons go, each have their own unique weapons, both melee and ranged, that they can use in battle. These weapons can be found inside the treasure chests that are scattered through the Mushroom Kingdom.
Progressing through the Mushroom Kingdom is similar to what you would expect in a Mario game. You will find yourself in an overworld map where you can move your characters around. Each of the missions are gated by two flags. If you were to wish to enter the next phase of a mission, simply enter it. Otherwise, you are free to move around the Mushroom Kingdom and solve puzzles to get rewards. Unfortunately, these puzzles are quite easy and pose no challenge at all. Throughout the kingdom, there are a lot of hidden areas that you can access to. Simply look for a blue rabbid sized catapult and you’ll enter a secret stage where you will have to collect coins in a specified amount of time. Each hidden areas have secret weapons that your characters can use – sometimes collectibles like soundtracks or artwork, which gives you a chance to go back and replay levels to get 100%. If you take your time in exploring the Mushroom Kingdom, you will gain yourself an advantage in battle. Don’t worry about getting lost as the path to your objective is quite linear.
When it comes to the visuals, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle stays true to the art Nintendo has been using for Mario. The visuals are cute and rich in colors where Ubisoft successfully mimics the Mario universe. They look very vibrant regardless if you are playing offscreen or on a 1080p screen. The level designs are well crafted with many areas that you can go to, including pipes, or cliffs where you can throw each other around for faster access, though they are all linear at some point. As for the overworld map, they stay true to the colorful world of Mario. In terms of performance, there are slight hiccups and frame rate drops but it’s not game breaking at all.
After completing the lengthy campaign, there’s a also a multiplayer mode you can jump into. Players can go play with a friend in a battle across a specially designed campaign. This mode is fun and can add more hours and challenge to anyone who wishes to play them. Luckily, all of the skills and levels carry over.
The collaboration between the Rabbids and Super Mario characters is quite unexpected but it seems to work quite well with Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. At first, the cute and charming visuals may give an impression that game is a pushover but don’t let that fool you. The game offers challenging gameplay that fans of the tactical-strategy based genre will surely enjoy regardless if they’re playing the on-the-go or on their couch. Think of the game like XCOM, but more lighthearted.
[Editor’s Note: Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was reviewed on the Switch platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]