Two worlds collide in Mario + Rabbids® Kingdom Battle!
•Nintendo Switch (£49.99)
Mario + Rabbids. Strategy + Adventure. Ubisoft + Nintendo. Having been both developed and published by Ubisoft, but using Nintendo’s most recongisable icons and charm, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battles brings accessible, turn-based, strategy role playing to the Nintendo Switch. So many fusions crammed into one small cartridge, but does it come together as more than the sum of the individually brilliant parts or flounder under the weight of too many directions?
This game’s graphics are glorious! Resplendent and vibrant; clean, crisp and clear. While this may sound like I’m gushing, it really is just par for the course when held up to other Nintendo games such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Super Mario 3D World last generation. You would be hard pressed to tell this wasn’t made in-house at Nintendo from the way it looks.
The energetic colours come to life across four distinctly different worlds. Mario’s recognizable array of cubes and smashable blocks work in perfect synchronicity during the combat elements, offering clear visual indication of usable cover and protection. All character models looks great and most animations are solid with the occasional hiccup, such as shots clipping through things or getting stuck in the map on the overworld.
It’s hard not to instantly feel the Nintendo bubbling to the surface of the soundtrack, as with most other aspects of the game, but it manages to create an abundance of unique charm on its own rights. More evocative of the era in which the 3D Platformer reigned supreme than solely of Mario. The music in the game never ceases to match what is on screen to a praiseworthy level and in a game of so many successes, the fact that the soundtrack is so positively salient is a clear mark of distinction to the high caliber of work put into it.
The sound effects and limited ‘dialogue’ resound well enough, and will likely garner more than a few chuckles as the anarchic rabbids doltishly cause terror; giggling their way across Mushroom Kingdom. This game comes equipped with all the familiar coin-collecting and block-smashing sounds you would expect, while also merging with Ubisoft’s Rabbids franchise with deft appeal.
The core gameplay offered in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a turn-based, strategy game that touts an impressive accessibility, while also boasting an enduring late game experience. Easy to pick up, but no cake walk whatsoever. Your team of three takes to the field with a slew of weaponry, from vacuum drones to hammers, blasters to grenaducks, you are rocking a crazy arsenal to complete your tasks. Often a simple case of defeating all the enemies or reaching a point, you are granted coin bonuses for completing them within a set time and with all characters on their feet.
Effectively using cover to reduce the enemy chance to hit you from 100% down to 50% or 0% is your key to survival, and a good indicator of what this game offers in a genre that is often weighed heavily in deep percentages. This game takes the nature of games like XCom and simplifies many of the aspects while also making it so delightfully playable!
The battles are broken up by exploration through an overworld and is filled to the brim with rewards to earn, with some of the weaponry you can find like this being *really* worth the effort finding. Once found, you buy the items with coins aquired from all over the place and offered as a reward for completing chapters within parameters. A surprising level of depth is present for the different tweaks your weapons can have; arming for the right foe may and planning your attack accordingly is well worth the effort.
To begin with, a basic grasp on the concepts will see you surviving, but by the end game, such a tenuous understanding of the mechanics will fail you time after time. Knowledge, tactics and understanding the game’s mechanics are the most vital tools in your arsenal to bring the chaos that has twisted Mushroom Kingdom back under control, and that is a rarity for Nintendo games; but again, this is not a Nintendo game, this is Ubisoft’s baby. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle obviously has a strong appeal towards the younger generation, as well as those that have loved the well-known Nintendo icons for decades, and the inclusion of every fight having the option of being played in an Easy Mode facilitates them not getting hooked up on some of the more frustrating levels; though even on Easy, it’s not the easiest of games out there.
As well as the normal battles and overworld exploration, the boss battles do a great job of mixing up the formula as you go toe to toe against a mashup of much-loved characters and rabbids. These battles can be a huge step up in difficulty, but are memorable, most notably when you scrape through them by the skin of your teeth.
Four huge and varied worlds with plenty to engage, distract, relax and frustrate. A great many number of challenges to complete and scores to perfect will keep you amused further beyond the roughly twenty hour story campaign, should you still want more after the main offering. You can expect a respectable amount of hours to be put in to unlock everything the game has hidden away in its many secret areas. On top of the pursuit of 100% collection, which may not be everyone’s idea of a fun time, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle also boasts a great local co-op mode that gives each player two characters in order to complete the co-op challenges. While a fantastic inclusion, the noteworthy absence of an online component to its multiplayer is overwhelmingly apparent.
The difficulty spikes may deter you at places, but the experience is as rewarding as experiences can come. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is another must-have title for the slowly growing library of Nintendo Switch titles and is one of the most unique and surprising hits to be released for some time.
- •Fantastic Graphics
- •Solid core gameplay mechanics
- •Rewarding level of difficulty
- •Memorable and whimsical soundtrack
- •Boils down more complex games of its type with great success
- •Embodies the “one more level” method of play
- •Surprisingly grand local coop mode
- •Difficulty spikes may frustrate some of the younger gamers it appeals to
- •Lack of online play
- •Some very minor graphical issues