Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a turn based tactical strategy game combining Nintendo’s Mario characters with Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids. The game’s announcement came as a surprise to gamers when it was first presented at the E3 conference earlier this year. Players are able to plan out their attacks and organise their team of 3 characters strategically to be able to defeat Rabbid enemies and bosses. The game was developed by Ubisoft in collaboration with Nintendo, and is a Nintendo Switch exclusive.
The game is set in the Mushroom Kingdom, into which Rabbids are being dropped from a giant floating vortex. To combat this threat, you are able to play with up to 4 classic Mario characters: Mario, Princess Peach, Luigi, and Yoshi, as well as 4 Rabbid characters who are dressed up as them. Mario + Rabbids offers a robust single-player campaign as well as offering online and local multiplayer modes.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a weird and wonderful clash of two beloved worlds that I didn’t know I needed until I started playing. A perfect combination of silliness and strategy, Ubisoft has really done a great job of creating a world in which both franchises can both co-exist and compliment each other. The game has significantly more plot than initially expected, but it doesn’t overshadow the gameplay or hog the player’s time. The art style of Mario + Rabbids is incredibly authentic to Nintendo’s already hugely successful franchise, so much so that you’d be forgiven for thinking that Nintendo actually designed the game.
A significant amount of gameplay in Mario + Rabbids is in the form of battles. Between these battles, you’ll find yourself exploring the world to look for the next arena or even hidden secrets. The turn based combat is designed very intuitively, meaning you can easily get a grip on the game soon after the first battle. You can quickly switch between characters and moves, as well as being able to swap between the visual styles of battle mode and tacticam during the fights. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle does a fantastic job of letting the player utilise some very satisfying combos and intricate strategies to pummel your opponents.
After each battle, the game assigns you with a score and rewards you in the form of coins according to your performance. If one of your team members is knocked out during a battle, or if you take too many turns to complete the objective, you are given a lower rank and consequently a lower reward. Battles don’t have to take a very long time either. On average, each battle could probably take around 10-15 minutes. If you’re anything like me though, battles take much longer because I keep restarting them if I think I won’t get a perfect score.
Because Mario + Rabbids is a turn based combat game, there isn’t much variation to it. After the first few battles you know what to expect, although the game does provide variability in the change up of enemies and geography of the arenas as you progress further. The game is also surprisingly long. After 6+ hours of gameplay, I had only just unlocked the 6th character out of a possible 8. This has its advantages though, as it means you have to play with each character and experiment with the different combinations of teams before unlocking new characters, new abilities, and fighting styles.
Besides fighting corrupted Rabbids in battle mode, another portion of the game is spent exploring what remains of the Mushroom Kingdom after the Rabbid infestation. As expected from a game made in collaboration with Nintendo, there are plenty of mini puzzles and secret rooms to explore. These often reward you with additional coins or collectibles, such as character designs or music. Chests are also found throughout the world, sometimes openly or through problem solving sections, which contain weapons that can be purchased in Battle HQ.
Each character has one primary weapon, one secondary weapon, and a few unique abilities that come in handy during battles. Luigi’s Steely Stare, for example, is an ability unique to him that gives the player extra damage and the chance to automatically shoot enemies when they cross his line of sight. I discovered quickly that the unique abilities are absolutely essential, as corrupted Rabbids can also use similar tricks against you.
The collaboration between Mario and the Raving Rabbids is as insane as it sounds, but somehow it just works. It’s especially ridiculous to see Rabbids essentially cosplay as Mario characters and work alongside their counterparts. Ubisoft really did a fantastic job of making these two very different worlds collide in a way that is complimentary to both franchises.
The decision to make Kingdom Battle a strategy style game also helps bring these two worlds together, as the game feels like a collaboration of both franchises rather than one featuring in the other’s game. The humour of these two titles contrasts brilliantly with serious strategical thinking, meaning that the game keeps you thinking and laughing throughout.
Despite the somewhat restrictive and repetitive gameplay, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle offers hours of humour and challenges to sink your teeth into. If you’re a fan of either series or just strategy games in general, then I would highly recommend giving this game a go as there is much more to Mario + Rabbids than meets the eye.