Release Date: August 29, 2017
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft Milan
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy RPG
ESRB Rating: E10+ for Everyone 10+ (Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Language)
Every so often, gamers are blessed with a title that takes us completely by surprise with unique gameplay and characters we just fall in love with. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was showcased at E3 2017 during Ubisoft’s conference, and the partnership between the third party and gaming giant was astonishing. I remember the excitement in Miyamoto’s voice as he introduced the team, and the passion from the developers as they talked about the collaboration on stage. As I am playing, I can see the care that was taken when Ubisoft put their popular characters, the Rabbids, into the Mario universe. The worlds are blended with a unique story that takes place in an alternative Mushroom Kingdom, snark humor from the zany Rabbids, and a battle system that neither franchise has experimented with before. Mario + Rabbids is a fantastic surprise for veteran Nintendo players, and a great introduction to the Strategy RPG genre for any newcomers.
The game starts off in the “real” universe in the basement lab of an inventor and her robot assistant Beep-O, who is the main protagonist in Mario + Rabbids. As the inventor leaves to take a break, a group of troublesome Rabbids arrive in their Time Washing Machine, and begin wreaking havoc in the lab. One of the creators inventions, the SupaMerge Helmet, which pieces two items together using dark matter and space-time manipulation, is picked up and put on by one of the Rabbids. He begins merging items in the room together creating Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Mario in the process. During his chaotic zapping, the Rabbid accidentally hits the Time Washing Machine, creating a dimensional vortex that begins sucking up everything in the room, including several collectibles from the Mario universe and the Rabbids.
They are transported to the Mushroom Kingdom as Princess Peach is holding a ceremony for our iconic heroes Yoshi, Luigi, and of course, the Italian Plumber himself, Mario. As the dimensional vortex appears in the sky, Mario chases down his friends as they are sucked into the wormhole. He finds himself on the other side with Beep-O, who explains what happened with the SupaMerge Helmet, and says that they must find the one Rabbid who took it to get everyone back to their respective worlds.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle revolves around Beep-O leading Mario and his party members through the alternate Mushroom Kingdom/basement laboratory. The game features 4 worlds, all of which are reminiscent of Mario’s history: there’s Ancient Gardens, Sherbet Desert, Spooky Trails, and Lava Pits. In each world, are paths and areas filled with hidden chests to find, characters to meet, and occasional Rabbids to observe doing crazy things in the backgrounds. Your goal is to travel through each area while solving puzzles to access the next, while also fending off enemies in battle segments.
This is of course what makes Mario + Rabbids so unique. When entering a battle segment, you are given a challenge of defeating a certain amount or all enemies, reach a specified highlighted zone, or even some times escorting an ally to safety. From the start, you are able to survey the area to decide on what tactic you are going to take. The option is also available change your team and equipment. You can use the different terrains to either stay on the defensive using cover, or offensively by using explosive boxes or by shooting from a higher vantage point. With each turn, you must strategically decide on how many tiles you can move, what defensive ability to boost your team with, or what special or standard attack to use. Each character has their own unique skill set, for example Mario specializes in jump and hammer abilities, while Rabbid Peach can heal and tackle several enemies in one turn. You will find yourself changing strategies depending on the terrain, enemy type, and requirements for passing the level.
Every 4 to 5 stages, you come face-to-face with a boss. Every boss is unique and elaborate, and have their own quirk to defeat them, creatively using special abilities or the battle field to test your experience. I enjoyed challenging myself in finding the tactic that was the most effective way to quickly take down the objective, also while not losing any characters. Doing so rewards coins that you can use to purchase new weapons for your entourage. If you are having difficulty defeating enemies in a level, an Easy Mode can be activated before the battle, giving you full health and bonus HP.
After defeating the final boss of each level, the team’s stats increase and Beep-O receives a new ability that can access new areas in the world. I found myself almost spending more time to explore past areas and find the secrets hidden within them, whether it be new treasure chests with collectibles and weapons, and even secret mini-boss levels with special rewards. Returning to areas after learning more Beep-O abilities only offers more secrets and rewards.
Returning to Peach’s Castle offers several features for you to enjoy and additions to standard game play. Amiibo R & D lets you load your Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Yoshi amiibo to unlock special weapons for all characters. Battle HQ accesses the screen to buy and equip weapons, form your team, and customize the skill tree for your character. The Washing Machine later appears, which allows you to replay battles to get better scores, and more coins. There is also a Museum to review the collectibles you have found in chests throughout the game, and also a Buddydome to tackle special battles cooperatively with a player 2.
- THE GOOD
- Two classic franchises with an entirely new gameplay formula
- Tons of replay value
- Fun, quirky narrative
- THE BAD
- Humor was sometimes too crude for a Mario franchise
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a perfect marriage of two franchises that we would have never expected to see together before. It brings about the best of both character worlds into a genre that appeals to both new and old fans alike. Whether you are a hardcore SRPG player, Mario fanboy, want to introduce yourself to the Rabbids franchise, or anything in between, there is something here for you.