Initial Release: August 29 2017
When push comes to shove, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a great game. It’s simple, self-aware and a lot of fun. The humour varies from pure slapstick to irony and satire, so it’s definitely enjoyable for a variety of players.
Last Tuesday, Nintendo and Ubisoft released another exclusive title for the Switch in the form of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. After a star studded presentation at this years E3 featuring Shigeru Miyamoto and Yves Guillemot, prospective players were eager to see how the blend of the two universes might play out in a game promised to be unlike anything in Nintendo’s flagship characters past – and in that, it definitely doesn’t disappoint. Playing as the titular mustachio plumber himself and a team of beloved characters as well as rag-tag cosplay Rabbids, this strategic turn-based combat game certainly holds its own against competitors in the genre.
The game opens with a young inventor in what seems to be a basement workshop conversing with her AR companion, Beep-0. Frustrated that her new invention, the SupaMerge isn’t being valued for its true, physics-defying potential, she sets to continue its improvement and stability. After she leaves the device for the night, however, something wicked this way comes… Rabbids. Phasing in with their time-traveling washing machine, they proceed to wreak havoc in the young scientist’s room, knocking over and disrupting her collection of Mario paraphernalia and doing what they do best: chaos. Inevitably, one slips on the SupaMerge and begins to combine the items in the room with one another, eventually creating a sort of black hole to another dimension – you can see where this is going.
Whisked into The Mushroom Kingdom, things quickly go awry at the statue unveiling ceremony as frantic Rabbids and titbits from the basement lab begin to rain from the heavens. The trouble-maker sporting the SupaMerge, later dubbed Spawny by Bowser Jr., is merged with the device after it malfunctions, and begins merging things willy-Nilly: giant underwear pins Bullet Bill to the moat around Peach’s castle, huge toy blocks create a formidable battlefield… you get the idea.
Using a 3-player team, each zone consists of 10 seperate areas – or levels – in which you must battle and solve puzzles to reach new bosses, unlock-able items, team mates and secrets. The battle sequences are light hearted and laced with some wonderful animations – a personal favourite being the Rabbid Kong eating bananas to heal. Pure genius.
There’s a great deal of replay-ability outside of the actual battles too – the areas between each battles have small puzzles for chests and bonus levels, some of which can only be attempted at the end of a zone once Beep-0 has been upgraded by the mysterious benefactor which emails him sporadically throughout the game.
One feature that definitely adds some more playability, especially in shorter bursts are the challenges that become available after you complete a level. By traveling back through each area, you can earn extra coins and power orbs to expand your battle skills, and some of the challenges are actually pretty neat. Some are battle-based, others logical, but all of them are unique in some way. It’s definitely not the sort of thing where you can sit and do them for hours as it may become slightly tedious, but for short journeys, study breaks or quick relief, they’re ideal.
The games not easy, either. Sure, the first world flies by in typical tutorial fashion, but some of the later levels really forced strategic thinking if you didn’t want to be squashed by a Smasher. A few times you literally can’t succeed without top-tier weaponry, which is where those aforementioned challenges really come into their element. Although there are types of weapons shared across characters, ultimately each playable character has their own set of weapon upgrades which can get pretty pricey by the time you reach the third world, so it’s always worth redoing levels to improve your ranking or find new secrets.
A huge sell for the game, and it’s fair to say many Mario games, is the music and aesthetics. Much like previous installments and other games in the genre like Banjo-Kazooie, the visual appeal of the game is wonderful – vivid colour palettes, stylistic character design and wonderfully crafted paths, all overlaid with a fluid, catchy soundtrack that just screams “pure joy” right in your face. Ultimately, the developers haven’t needed to innovate much outside of what the two franchises provide, but seeing how a Rabbid merges with a piranha plant is definitely something we never knew we wanted but are so glad to have.
When push comes to shove, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a great game. It’s simple, self-aware and a lot of fun. The humour varies from pure slapstick to irony and satire, so it’s definitely enjoyable for a variety of players. It’s really great to see Nintendo branching out with new ideas for the ageing Mario model, and it’s clear a lot of thought went into the aesthetics and mapping of the product. It’s hugely addictive, too – when stuck on a level, you can spend hours repeating it just to rid that pesky last enemy (I’m looking at you, Smashers) The only issue to be had with it is that it can be a little repetitive, but that’s where the beauty of the switch comes in. Could most people spend hours on the game on their TV? Probably not. Can you whip it out at a moments notice and play in short bursts? Absolutely. In some ways, that almost makes it feel like a mobile app, but with all of the extra features like multiplayer challenges, collectables and huge maps to explore, this game definitely holds its own as a must-have for the Nintendo switch.
We were provided a copy of the game by Nintendo for review purposes.