Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle Review
The thought of Nintendo handing over it’s properties to another company seemed pretty unlikely to ever happen, and fans of the company have often been divided on whether or not Nintendo should lax their stringent rules on the use of their characters and licence them out. Although we were all unaware, Nintendo made that decision back in 2014 to allow Ubisoft the right to create a crossover title with their Rabbids characters, as long as the game wasn’t platform based. Ubisoft took that opportunity and ran with it, and now we are literally hours away from Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Should you grab? Read on to hear our thoughts!
The Rabbids franchise has never been one to garner a lot of attention with mass media, but the titles produced under that heading have not been terrible, but rather, under enjoyed by the populace at large. With this crossover with the Mushroom Kingdom, however, I do believe that all is about to change. Ubisoft has created a fantastic turn-based tactical adventure game with a extensive main campaign, co-op gameplay options, and future DLC that is sure to appeal to both Rabbids and Mario fans.
Ubisoft Influence Apparent Early On
As much as I love Nintendo, I’ve never found any of their cinematic moments to be truly outstanding. Always good, yes, but never that over-the-top, hype inducing CG experience. Within the first moments of the opening cut scene, it was apparent that the Mario name was in good hands with Ubisoft. The opening clip which is a few minutes in length, introduces us to the Rabbids, how they became ‘evil’ – through an Augmented Reality headset called the SupaMerge – and how the ended up in the Mushroom Kingdom, causing mayhem wherever they go.
The evil Rabbids are led by Spawny, who unfortunately has the Augmented Reality headset permentantly melted onto his face, allowing him to create a mixture of whatever he wants. You will see him combine springs and Rabbids to create “Hoppers” and even Donkey Kong and a Rabbid to create Rabbid Kong, the boss for the first world you explore. With Spawny, the possibilities are endless, and seeing which two items he combines as you move through your adventure is half the fun!
Mario+Rabbids is a combination of ‘open world’ adventuring – although each world is fairly linear in how you must approach it – and enclosed area battles with a specific goal, which include defeating all enemies or bosses, reaching a certain point(s) on the map, escorting a character across the battlefield, or killing a certain number of Rabbids. Each goal is set out for you before you begin, and players are given the option to scan the battlefield prior to starting to map out any strategies.
Strategy is the name of the game in Mario+Rabbids and the game does a great job of easing you into the various battle mechanics. Through the first few battles you will learn about shooting and using cover, how to dash attack enemies, and of course, the Team Jump. Of all the battle mechanics, Team Jump is the one that takes the most time to understand, and is probably the most valuable for getting to areas that might only have one access, like via a bunny tube.
During a given turn, a character will be able to do more than just shoot and move. As your progress, you will unlock secondary weapons, and their uses vary from rocket launchers that blow through rock defenses, to seeking bombs that will follow an enemy until they can detonate. Further to these secondary weapons, each character will have two abilities, the first of which will be unique to them – taking an extra shot when an enemy begins movement for Mario and Luigi, or creating a shield for protection against regular or special attacks like Rabbid Luigi and Rabbid Peach.
The second ability is an area action, that will trigger a certain effect on a specific area. For example, Rabbid Peach can heal allies within a given area, while Rabid Luigi can decrease the damage done by enemy weapons. Performing the unique or area effect specials will trigger a cool down timer, so making best use of them will be paramount to success. While all these mechanics may seem overwhelming, they all work together really well, and before you reach the end of the first world, it will all feel very natural.
Getting Battle Ready: Digging into the Menus of Mario+Rabbids
What you do on the battlefield will ultimately propel you through the game, but being prepared for each and every battles is priority number one. Although many of the upgrade options will not be available early on, they unlock in the Peach’s Castle area fairly quickly.
As your progress through the first few chapters, the battles are pretty easy to complete, but the difficult definitely ratchet’s up as you near the end of the first world. Even the first mid-boss in World 1 is pretty easy, once you get the hang of his moments and fighting actions. When the going gets tough, however, you will want to take advantage of the other ways you can improve yourself for battle, outside of your on-site strategic movements.
After completing a set number of Chapters, the hub around Peach’s Castle will begin to fill up with buildings that will allow you to do different things, like purchase new weapons and upgrade your character through the skill tree. This location will be of paramount importance as you continue through the game, and we outlined why in our “Tips to Succeed after a Defeat” article. The crib notes version of that article: make sure you are purchasing the best weapons possible, and that you are utilizing the skills in the skill tree to make your characters more affective while in battle. Make sure to check what powerful affects some weapons may have. Here is a full list of what is available:
Environmental Puzzles, Challenges, and Collecting All That Stuff
This wouldn’t be a 2017 title without a good amount of collecting, and Mario+Rabbids handles that very well. While progressing through any of the 4 worlds, you will encounter a number of environmental puzzles, with varying degrees of difficulty. Often, these puzzles are necessary to complete in order to progress to the next chapter, but in other situations, they will lead you to treasure chests.
Treasure chests can hold a variety of different items, but more often than not, they will include artwork, soundtrack songs, or 3D models that you can view in one of the buildings the hub area of Peach’s Castle. When you complete each world, and return to it to try your hand at the chapters again, you will be able to see through the in-game men, how many chests you have left to find, broken down further by collection chests and weapons chests.
Cooperative play is alive and well in Mario+Rabbids, and although you won’t be able to play through the campaign together, there are a good number of cooperative scenarios to play through, with more coming through DLC. These cooperative scenarios function much the same say the solo campaign, except that each player controls 2 characters instead of 3, but actually giving the team an extra character overall.
I found playing cooperatively with someone else added an entirely new level of depth to the gameplay. Unless you plan to make all the decisions yourself, debating with your partner on what move will likely be the correct move is pretty fun, and often times what you want to do won’t be possible, making both players adapt to the situations as they unfold. I’m not sure how much I’ll play this mode as my wife and I both prefer playing the solo campaign, but it’s a worthwhile addition that everyone should check out once or twice.
When the previously announced DLC for Mario+Rabbids comes out this fall, additional cooperative maps will be available for players to tackle. By then, I’m sure many day one buyers will have completed the single player experience, and will be itching for more Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle gameplay!
I’ve already written well over a 1000 words gushing about how much I’ve enjoyed Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle, but I must admit it’s not perfect. For one, I really wish Ubisoft would have included a undo button during battle, as I often made decisions accidently when moving cursors around the map, and in certain situations, it was the difference between winning and losing a chapter. That being said, Ubisoft has taken the Mario franchise and taken it where it’s never been before with this tactical turn-based adventure. While I’m still skeptical about lending out the Mario name to big name developers, I’d hand the reigns over to Ubisoft again in a heartbeat!