Nintendo has had great success when allowing their characters to interact with different franchises. We wouldn’t have gotten Super Mario RPG with Square Enix, or Sonic and Mario at the Olympics for example, and by allowing a publisher like Ubisoft access to Mario and company, we get a game like Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle for the Nintendo Switch, a tactical RPG that puts two franchises into one really enjoyable game. We were all surprised to see the leaked poster of Mario and the Rabbids, and even more so when the title was officially revealed at E3, however, this game succeeds at what it sets out to do.
Kingdom Battle begins when the Rabbids create chaos and thanks to a mal-functioning VR-headset called the SupaMerge, both the Rabbids and Amiibos are brought into the Mushroom Kingdom, and it is up to Mario and the Rabbids to get the SupaMerge back from a wild Rabbid named Spawny.
While the story never takes itself too seriously, and as you explore the world, you’ll discover that the worlds are labeled like Super Mario Bros. for example, 1-1-, 1-2, and so on. The levels are beautiful, full of color and each has a theme of its own that only makes sense in a video game.
For the most part, the only thing to do is battle enemies, the overworld may be colorful, but aside from some simple environmental puzzles, and the odd hidden path, you’re walking along a path collecting coins. Each world has its own intricacies to discover, and you’ll want to uncover the hidden chests that contain gear for your party. The character’s models as you make your way from world to world especially is top-notch and full of life, especially how Mario runs with his arms out, it’s the little details that you find the most inspiring in video games.
Gameplay is heavily focused on strategy and this feels like XCOM meets Mario, what I liked most about this mashup is how simple the gameplay is, and how easy it is to pick up and learn, while never becoming too complex. The more you play and unlock mechanics, the more fun you’ll have.
Each character plays differently as well, and your starting lineup of Mario, Rabbid Peach, and Rabbid Luigi, give you a good idea of the archetypes you’ll unlock. Mario can buff allies’ attacks, while Luigi can increase movement range, Rabbid Peach can heal those closest to it, and so on. A neat attack is the team jump, where you walk over a teammate and they boost you up and over further into the fray to land a successful attack.
The battlefield takes place on a grid where you can move freely and take cover to protect yourself from enemy fire, as I mentioned you can also utilize a team jump that extends your reach, and if you do it properly, a dash that allows you to knock your enemy down in addition to your regular attack. The various ways in which you can tackle enemies is up to you, and for the most part you’re free to do it in, however, way you want to do it, but when you pull off a complicated turn and end up taking the enemies down, it is very satisfying.
This all ties into the cover system that will make your life much easier, as with cover you can either be fully hidden or partially, which leaves you open to 50% of attacks. Enemies can even destroy cover by firing at it, leaving you open to your enemy. The provided Tacticam is an excellent resource you will grow to use each battle by providing you with insight before and during an encounter, this allows you to see the landscape and get information on enemies, abilities, and more.
Characters can find and purchase guns that all have various stats that do things like make enemies bounce around the map, freeze them in place, and more. The benefit of having numerous enemy types is being able to utilize your arsenal to wipe them out, and by taking chances in battle, learning what works best for each enemy type.
Another impressive feat, this isn’t necessarily an easy game to play, no, instead you will find yourself dealing with restarting battles, due in part to some difficulty spikes, often having you repeat potions of a level once more just to test your skills, and pick the right players and equipment.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle should not work and should not be this fun, but it does work and it is that much fun. Ubisoft has done a commendable job in bridging two franchises together. If you’re a Nintendo Switch owner, this is one game you should put into your library. Mixing the off-beat Rabbids with Nintendo’s finest is a delightful romp through the Mushroom Kingdom that doesn’t overstay its welcome, and provides an engaging game that doesn’t get overly complex.