Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Review – The Birth of a New Series
After the leaked reveal of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, many of us scoffed at the prospect of a Mario and Rabbids crossover game. Were we right to be skeptical, or are we now left eating our hats? Check out our Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle review and see what we thought.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Review
Mario + Rabbids opens up in a basement, where a young tech genius is working on a new headset that combines things into one item. In the intro sequence, the kid combines a lamb and a plant into a plant with glowing light bulbs. As the kid leaves the room you notice just how much Nintendo stuff is around. Plushies, posters, and even a rug are littered across the room signifying that a Nintendo fanboy lives there. This is all well and good, until the Rabbids appear in their time traveling washing machine, something I assume is from their games but I honestly have no idea. In usual Rabbid fashion, they cause havoc and one of them gets the headset and starts combining Rabbids with various things. In the midst of this, the Rabbid with the goggles targets the washing machine and starts absorbing all the Nintendo stuff around, opening up a wormhole to the Mushroom Kingdom. I know, I know, just roll with it. When you arrive, the Rabbids split off and the one with the goggles is causing havoc all around the Kingdom. It is up to you to get the goggle wearing Rabbid back and to return things back to normal. In all, the story will run you between 20-30 hours, depending on how many challenges you do.
Aesthetically, this is really more of a Mario game than a Rabbids one. All the worlds have that Mario feel to them, just with Rabbids causing havoc. Despite what you might think about the Rabbids, they really do add to the charm of this game. You will come across them just chilling on lily pads, dancing around, or even just messing around with goombas. As far as the Rabbid humor is concerned, it is certainly geared towards a more younger audience, but I had my fair share of chuckles as well. As for the Mario fans, expect to see chain chomps, bullet bills, and even a few other surprises that I don’t want to ruin. One huge problem I had with the game is the locked camera moments, of which there are a ton. You aren’t allowed to rotate and see whats around your way more often than is expected in a Mario game, and that hurts it. It is really hard to enjoy the world when I can’t see what’s going on to my right or left.
Outside of exploring, you will fight as well. That is pretty much how the game is broken up; explore until you run into a battle with the Rabbids. For the most part, you don’t face many Mario enemies, such as goombas or koopa troopas. The combat is very similar to X-Com for anyone who has played that. If you haven’t, it is turned based with one squad moving while the other waits. You move to cover and shoot at the enemies while trying to prevent yourself from taking much damage. In Mario + Rabbids, you also are encouraged to rush at an enemy to dash through them for damage or use a team jump by jumping on one of your allies. These are a couple of things Mario + Rabbids does differently from other games like it. There are also skills you can use in battles such as shields or heals. There are a total of eight fighters you get, but you can only bring three into any fight, so you have to pick and choose. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses that can make battle easy or a nightmare for you.
Other than the main game, there are also challenges and secret chapters you can find. The challenges are a way to gain extra skill points to power up your team while also picking up some extra coins. These vary on how they are done but some are as simple as killing X amount of enemies while others force you to escort someone. There is also a co-op mode that you can do after you beat the worlds the first time. We didn’t have a second controller, so we couldn’t test this out. Going back to levels has other benefits besides challenges as well. There are chests in each level that have collectibles and new weapons for you to spend coins on. If you don’t find the weapons, you will be in trouble later on. Weapons also have various effects added to them. Ink blinds enemies, honey makes them stop in place, and ice makes it so they can’t use special abilities. There are others as well and experimenting with the various effects will help you decide which ones you should use in battle.
At its core, the game is a strategy RPG that is a little light on the RPG elements. You can buy new weapons and upgrade your characters, sure, but many of the characters share the same abilities and weapon types with different names. There is no armor to buy, no items that you use in battle, and no side quests. If there is a sequel, they would do well to add some of these features. The skill tree is a bit weak as well, some of the talents seem almost throw away but you get them just because you have the extra points. Still, we have no idea they worked on this game and coming out in the first year of the Switch, I’m sure things had to be cut. For the record, challenges do not count as side quests either.
For those of you who are thinking about picking this up for your kids, just be wary that the game does have some challenge to it. There is an easy mode that gives you more HP, but for some of the battles, it isn’t the amount of HP you have that makes a difference. I did run into a couple of issues while playing as well. I had the game freeze in the later part of the game, and by later I mean the last boss. I also had it crash while I was trying to go back to the hub area. Up until the last world, I ran into no issues and the game runs great in handheld mode. I did have a couple of frame drops in docked mode, but not enough to make a massive difference.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a good first step towards what will hopefully become a series for Ubisoft and Nintendo. Fans of Mario games, strategy RPGs, or even Switch games in general should grab this without hesitation.