Developed by: Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft Milan
Published by: Ubisoft
When Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was originally leaked last year, when the Nintendo Switch was officially revealed, you could imagine how many people were disgusted by this collaboration existing. While I have personally never played a Rabbids game, I could tell just by watching trailers and shorts that I would never like these annoying creatures. I mean, they were pretty much the Minions from the Despicable Me film series before they were even a thought, and I don’t think I have to explain why those things are the absolute cringiest beings in existence. So, I guess that makes the Rabbids the Minion’s “ancestors” in a way? Regardless, the Rabbids are definitely not the most likable mascots in the video game scene, so just the thought that they would be paired up with probably the most iconic video game series of all time, you can understand why some would be upset about this. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this game is a classic case of “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” because it’s definitely not what most expected it to be. Is it good? Is it bad? Well, let’s take a look at the game and find out.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle opens with a young woman in her room decked out with all sorts of Mario merchandise (ass kissing much?). She explains to her robot, Beep-0, that her latest invention, the SupaMerge, can combine two objects into one. As she leaves the room to tend to an accident she causes using the SupaMerge, the Rabbids appear through their Time Washing Machine and do what they do best: Cause mayhem. Eventually, a random Rabbid comes across the SupaMerge and starts combining the other Rabbids with several different Mario merchandise, until they eventually combine with a Mario poster that, I guess, transports them into the Mario universe. Chaos ensues in the Mushroom Kingdom as the Rabbids fall from the sky, combining with all sorts of things. The robot Beep-0, who tried to stop the Rabbids, falls along with the other Rabbids. Just as the robot is about to be destroyed, Mario leaps in and saves it. With the help of Beep-0, as well as the neutral Rabbids who have taken a liking to Mario, Mario sets out to take back the SupaMerge in order to restore the Mushroom Kingdom.
Believe it or not, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a strategy RPG that plays very similar to 3D top-down strategy games such as X-COM. Yeah, no joke, X-COM. Characters move on a 3D grid and can move behind blocks to take less damage from enemies. Each character also has various different tools and abilities at their disposal that they can use to either attack the enemy, or help prevent damage. For instance, Luigi is similar to a sniper class, having decent mobility and long range, allowing him to take on most enemies at a distance. To offset this, he has very low HP compared to most characters, so if he gets into close combat, he could be in trouble. Peach is a paladin-like class, having a lot of HP and can defend others through her various abilities. However, her range is low and since her weapons are so wide spread, she can even hurt her comrades in combat. Learning how to use each character to your advantage is practically necessary in each battle. And that’s the thing I like about each map in the game. The game never tells you who would be useful for each map, rather they expect you to find out for yourself. Before each battle, you can look over the battlefield and go through some reconnaissance to find out who would be the best to use in each situation.
While you’re not battling Rabbids, you’ll be exploring through the four various worlds in Kingdom Battle. Though the path to each battle is very linear, there are hidden areas and puzzles to solve that can net you extra bonuses such as new weapons, artwork, or in-game music which gives players more of a reason to revisit previous worlds. At a certain point in the game, you’ll have access to a skill tree which will grant characters different abilities and moves they can perform in battle. These can vary from healing and preventing damage to gaining more HP and movement. In order to obtain these skills, though, you have to unlock skill points which can be gained through the main story in the linear battles, or you can go back to previous worlds and do certain challenges to get you extra skill points to spend. These challenges vary from defeating a certain number of enemies or getting to a certain area before time runs out, similar to some of the objectives from the main game. However, these challenges are much more difficult and give you a lot less time to work with in comparison to the main game.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a surprisingly good game. I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true. It has great and addicting gameplay, smooth graphics, and a great score (composed by the great Grant Kirkhope himself). While I do greatly enjoy the game, it is rather short, only having four worlds to explore and it does have issues with it’s frame rate and is even prone to freezing sometimes. I personally have not experienced this, but I know my fellow writer Tyler has run into this problem countless of times, along with several others. So, it is by no means a perfect game. But to be honest, I’m still completely baffled that we got something that’s actually not bad. Not that any of the Rabbids games are bad (I’m never going to play them so I’ll never know), but when this was originally pitched as a Mario/Rabbid RPG crossover, I was worried to say the least. But fret not, this is actually a good game and I definitely recommend this to all of you Fire Emblem fans to help tide you over until the next game in the series finally arrives on the Switch.
Final Verdict: Buy it. Mario + Rabbids is a surprisingly great game well suited for any strategy RPG lover. However, it is pretty short and is prone to similar problems that other Ubisoft games tend to suffer from.