A year ago if you told me that Ubisoft and nintendo will team up to bring a Mario and Rabbids crossover I would never have believed you. The very idea of a Mario and rabbids crossover is so prosperous, so absurd and so left field it would cross the line of improbable. The concept brings shills along the spines of games with the very idea. By first thoughts it would be a bastardisation of gaming most beloved mascot with the industries not so loved rabbits. And yet, here in 2017 we are presented with Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom battle, a realisation of the idea and perhaps most surprisingly the game turned out to be excellent.
The world of Mario + Rabbids is simply magical akin to the works of Pixar. It’s full of charm and character, it’s bright and colourful and visually spectacular. Admittedly, I’m not too verse in the technical aspects of video games – however – I can safely say Mario + Rabbids is one of the best looking games on the Switch and the best showcase for the hardware thus far. The good folks of Ubisoft should be lauded for how well they are able to mesh the world of Mario and Rabbids together to a cohesive visual design. The two universe are never at odds with each other, juxtaposed masterfully together offering contrast and distinction. I loved the attention to detail afforded to the environment. There’s always something interesting to see traversing Mushroom kingdom.
Kingdom Battle is unlike any other Mario or Rabbids game that has come before it. Many have described it as Mario meets Xcom. But without having played any of the Xcom series I can’t say for certain. However, for Nintendo fans the closest Ninty franchise to Kingdom battle is the fire emblem series but with a few key differentials. Essentially, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a tactical base cover shooter. In simplified terms, you move your team across a grid, taking cover, picking off enemies and completing varying objectives. While simple in its premise there are plenty of macro systems that make up the game strategic elements. In order to succeed, players need to wisely consider positioning of the team and ememies, enemy types, optimizing team damage, team, composition and optimizing team efficiency and abilities. Often you are presented with difficult situations and asked to make a tactical decision. Do you go for the biggest threat? Or do you take out the small fry? What’s the most optimal way to takeout this foe? What’s the best move for this turn? These are the frequent questions you will be asking yourself. Kingdom Battle is cognitively demanding, requiring the attention on of the player and is a large reason why the game is so incredibly fun.
Kingdom Battle perfectly balances its difficulty. It’s not too easy and not too-hard, it falls somewhere in between offering the player plenty of challenge without being frustrating. There’s a natural progression in difficult, it’s easy at the beginning and becomes increasingly harder towards the end, easing the player into all the nuances of the games mechanics. I particularly liked the implementation of the easy mode. At the beginning of every battle you can choose to activate easy mode giving every team member an additional 20% HP. The beauty of the designs choice is that it never tampers with the games challenge. The AI remains the same, the number of foes remains the same, the damage output is unchanged and the objective remains the same. I prefer this idea over Nintendo’s solution of accessible to novice players. It doesn’t hold your hands, nor is it obtrusive to the player. It’s an option that both casual and the adept players can appreciate it.
Kingdom Battle offers a small but robust cast and class. Your typical Mushroom Kingdom mainstayers are all: Mario, Luigi and Peach. However, they are joined by some unusual characters in Rabbids. Each member of the cast have their own unique abilities and traits offering different roles to the team composition. For example, Mario and Luigi excels as an offensive unit, Rabbid Peach specialises in healing, Rabbid Luigi provides defensive support and Peach performs as all-round tank. Team composition plays in important role for success. You want to bring the right character for the situation. Kingdom battles allows the players to scope the arena, checking out the enemies and terrain with tactic cam, allowing you to select your team composition. If you are face with an arena with high numbers of enemies it would be wise to bring a healer. If you are faced with a large number of runt Rabbids perhaps a hyper offensive team composition would be more suitable. Kingdom battles does an adeqaute job providing different scenarios to highlight each casts utility, so you don’t fall into the habit of using the same composition again and again.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a meaty adventure with the campaign lasting around $20. There’s no padding to artificially lengthen the adventure, kingdom battle is briskly paced with a perfect amount of combat encounters and clever environmental puzzles in between. Aside form one instance during midgame, back tracking is kept to minimum, resulting in an adventure with little to no dull moments. Once the main game is completed, player can indulge themselves in the Easter egg hunt for all collectibles or aim to earn perfect scores in all battles. I think players will be well satisfied with their purchase here.
A testimony to the games polish, there are very few complaints or noticeable flaws. Everything from the gameplay, visuals and the music is polished to the point of perfection. I could complain about the limited enemy varieties and the environment types, but that would be nitpicking. It’s a quality Nintendo game that isn’t made by the Big N, and I would like to laud the developers for creating an amazing game. If you own a Switch or planning to purchase one in the near future, you owe yourself to play Mario + Rabbids: kingdom Battle.