On paper, the idea of a crossover between the iconic Mario series, and the Ubisoft Rabbids, does not seem like a good idea. Rather, it sounds like a kids game, likely full of little party games and very little depth.
In practice, I’ve found myself a light-hearted, colourful and fun tactical game to help satiate that Xcom hunger on the Switch. I can’t quite work out why it all works, but it just does.
Purchased for a bargain on the Nintendo eStore, I’ve been dying to get my hands on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, after seeing all the high praise it received upon release. I couldn’t bring myself to pay £40 for it, because I wasn’t quite sure it would be for me, but less than a tenner? Count me in.
Ok, this is a little loose, and I’m not sure the term “story” is appropriate.
There’s a clip at the beginning to try and give some narrative, showing how the Mario and Rabbids worlds have collided.
A girl has invented some glasses or goggles that can merge two items into one, simply by looking at them. Throw-in Mario toys in her bedroom, a washing machine full of Rabbids (time travelling or dimension crossing?) and a little chaos into the mix, and you’re there.
It all kind of makes sense, in as much as it really doesn’t, but at least they tried.
You’re not playing Mario and Rabbids for the story though. It’s for the game play. I can’t quite understand how Ubisoft came to the decision to mix these two worlds and turn them into a turn-based tactical shooter. But I’m pleased they did!
Think Xcom, but brighter and less brutal. Don’t think it’s somehow a lesser version of these games though, it isn’t. Mario and Rabbids is somehow bonkers but really solid and engaging, often times quite challenging, too.
So far, so good
I’ve completed a full world up until now. Starting to understand the unique rhythm of combat.
You’re still left with limited range of movement, and different actions taking up turns. However, you have some flexibility to get creative in a way that you can’t in other games.
Limited in movement space, yes. But with the ability to slide through enemies to do damage as you traverse through, or the ability to launch allies into the air to cover a bit more ground. You can start to chain movement to do damage, find good cover and still take your shot.
Truth be told, I didn’t give it the benefit of the doubt here. There’s so much depth, but it’s delivered in such a glossy and clourful package, you don’t neccessarily see it for a start.
Attack percentages are here, but far less frustrating than the Xcom games. You get 0%, 50% and 100%. No bullshit. 50% means you’ll either hit or miss. 0% means a miss and 100% means a hit. XCom has scarred me beyond belief, and I still don’t trust that 100% figure, but I’ve not missed yet!
The mission variety so far is tiny, but I like what’s on offer. Defeat everything, traverse across the map to get to the end zone (quickly and safely), transport a VIP (Toad so far) or mid-boss and boss fights.
Still meeting new enemy types and adjusting to their tactics, and unlocking new gear, abilities and allies to fight with Mario.
Luigi is a sniper. I love it, but it’s weird.
That actually sums the game up for me quite nicely. It’s weird but it’s great. I’m battling through the second zone and just finished the mid-boss. I’ve unlocked Rabbid Mario and it looks like my play-style is going to change again to mix it up and use him.
Mario and Rabbids is fantastically realised. Colourful, bright, silly and funny. But it’s got layers of tactical depth and a level of satisfaction that you don’t get from a lot of games, particularly Rabbids-related games.
This is a game I’m seeing through to the end. The story is a bit weird, but I’ve got so much more fun to have, so many more unlocks to get and items to find. I can’t wait.
There’s some co-op stuff to try, which is intriguing! I need to find someone to join me on that, but I’m looking forward to giving that a try too.
Ubisoft have really done a great job here, creating something unique and unusual, but fun at the same time.
Let’s see how it plays out!
It’s worth watching this video by Chris Bratt to understand how Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle came about, too!