The upcoming Nintendo and Ubisoft collaboration Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was officially announced at E3 2017, but some ill-received leaks earlier in the year ruined the surprise reveal — for both fans and game developers.
In an interview with Eurogamer, creative director Davide Soliani said developers “were aiming to do a big surprise at E3,” which ultimately did not happen, although the E3 reveal was still exciting.
The pre-E3 leaks included official game art and an internal presentation that revealed a few gameplay details and a release timeline. These leaks weren’t exactly well-received. Many people saw a Mario + Rabbids crossover as a joke that couldn’t actually be a good game. And I’ll admit it, I was among them. The Rabbids are goofy and a little annoying, and the idea of throwing them into Mushroom Kingdom seemed bizarre.
Turns out the negative reactions to the leaks didn’t sit well with the development team behind Mario + Rabbids. Soliani said, “Of course, it was quite a bad backlash for the entire team. Discouraging. Quite hard on the team morale.”
“Of course I tried to, let’s say, reassure everyone that we had a good game and our team is not composed of stupid guys, so they knew they were doing something quality-oriented,” he stated. “But of course, there is no way to avoid not feeling anything towards this kind of feedback. We’re passionate guys and not just doing this as a job, but also for the pleasure of giving emotion to the player.”
Imagine you’ve been working on a secret project for years only to have it leaked and then ripped a new one by fans and media alike. The discouragement is understandable, but I’m so glad that didn’t get them down for too long.
The E3 reveal of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle showed the game’s true colors and brought about much more positive feedback than the leaks. The announcement video showcased the crossover’s shining star: the playful but involved turn-based combat. I immediately changed my mind about what I thought was a dud after seeing what this team had worked so hard to pull off.
The first real validation devs felt was when Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto came on the stage during Ubisoft’s press conference to announce the game. Soliani said, “When Miyamoto went on stage and the audience reacted, I felt, finally, the team has its reward.”
Some of you might recall the image of a developer tearing up in the audience of the Ubisoft event. That was Davide Soliani, the Italian game designer who poured years of work into this project. Seeing Miyamoto on stage, praising your work, and getting fans excited for your game — that’s definitely a reward, especially after so much public backlash.
And the rewards kept coming. As more people saw the game and the great reviews from the lucky ducks who went hands-on with it, Mario + Rabbids became a legitimate, in-depth game instead of the ridiculous, annoying crossover so many expected.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle releases August 29th exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.