Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle Review
When Nintendo’s Latest Switch IP, Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was voted as “Best of E3” by Gamespot, we knew that there had to be something particularly special about this unique crossover mutation. How does it stack up against the expectations?
This hilarious little title has quite literally shocked the world with how unique it is and how darn well it pulls off something that not many people believed it could. That being said, interestingly enough, the one and only prerequisite that Ubisoft received when they sought permission to splice together the worlds of Nintendo’s Mario and their Raving Rabbids, was that it had to be unlike any Mario game the world had ever seen. Smashing onto retail shelves and the Nintendo eShop, I confidently and quite boldly can state that Ubisoft achieved exactly that, and some! If you had your doubts (you know who you are), then allow me a few moments of your valuable time to quickly set things straight and assure you that the pre-hype and post-hype are indeed justified.
How Does It All Come Together?
The story starts off in the human world, with a Young Tech-Science Pioneer who has developed a Helmet that takes two different objects that are in its line of sight and then splices them together (Oh the Irony!) to create a brand new object out of the two separately fused objects (The SupaMerge). Her Robotic AI Companion, Beep-O and her have been trying to fix an overheating problem, and decide to take a break and resume later with fresh, rested perspective. Enter the Rascally Rabbids.
They warp in through a time-travelling washing machine and as Rabbids do, start trashing the basement laboratory. One of the Rabbids ends up with the SupaMerge on his pip and some crazy mergers start taking place. The laboratory is themed to represent the Mushroom Kingdom, as the young inventor is clearly an avid Mario fan, and this is where Rabbid Peach, Rabbid Mario, Rabbid Luigi and Rabbid Yoshi are “born”. The SupaMerge overheats and shorts the time-travelling washing machine and through a splicing of time-travel and the powers of the SupaMerge, the Rabbids and Beep-O end up in the real Mushroom Kingdom! The Rabbid with the SupaMerge on his head, sees his reflection, the helmet triggers and results in a Rabbid-SupaMerge fusion.
With a mutated Mushroom Kingdom in catastrophic chaos and a very confused (and already malfunctioning) “blinking-happy” SupaMerge Rabbid on the loose, newly fused Rabbids are wrecking everything in their path, however, the pre-time-travel Rabbid fusions seem to be untainted (Rabbid Peach, Rabbid Mario, Rabbid Luigi and Rabbid Yoshi). Real Mario is tasked with tracking down the SupaMerge Rabbid before he breaks things good and proper. Along with Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Luigi, Mario and Beep-O venture into the Ancient Gardens outside Princess Peach’s Castle in pursuit of the “Antagonist”, battling different types of Rabbid enemies with special skills based on their fusions.
Mysteriously, Beep-O keeps receiving Emails with Weapon Upgrades for our Heroes and tips, conveniently and perfectly timed before things get more difficult, and roughly halfway into your Ancient Garden Adventure, you learn that fallen Rabbid enemies are teleported to the Castle, cured of their corruption and are busy building a base of operations for our Heroes with many types of buildings that end up aiding you through your progression. You later learn that this is not necessarily a good thing, because where is the corruption “going”? Humor is not in short supply, and at the end of the first “World”, the real antagonist shows up. Bowser Junior (Bowser Jnr.) names our SupaMerge Rabbid, “Spawny” and convinces him to join him in an attempt to make daddy Bowser proud.
How Do I Play It
Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a Turn-Based Title with both Single Player and Multiplayer capabilities. If you just rolled your eyes, then please, slap yourself, because this game takes the best of everything and emphasizes it’s appeal outside of the box, including what a lot of people seem to want to avoid: Turn Based Battle. The battles start off easy, with minimal challenge and strategizing to progress though the story, but ramps up at a constant pace, introducing New Weapons, Effects, Obstacles and Transport Mechanics with each new “Chapter”, which is great as a tutorial for new comers and a well needed refresher for veterans to turn based battle.
Each World Chapter has plenty Puzzles to keep you distracted and splits the Battle Sequences apart at the right Ratio to prevent you from getting annoyed with always being in a Battle. In the “Free Run” parts, you are encouraged to explore, as you often find hidden pipes leading to areas where you uncover a Treasure Chest containing either a New Weapon, Amiibo Model, Artwork Piece or Sound Track that you get to check out in the Gallery Building called the Museum. You unlock more playable team members (that you also swap in and out through a Battle Manager) as you progress through the game. You gain the real Luigi right after you beat the first Mid-Boss (Pirabbid Plant) of the first World.
During the Hero Phase of Battle (when you get to make your move) you can interchange between your three Heroes at will and set them up for the perfect Offensive or Defensive maneuver! Each Hero has “three moves” per turn, your Basic Attack (Melee or Ranged), Movement and your “Super” Power.
The Basic Attack is defined by your equipped weapon and your skill tree, as Mario can unlock the ability to decimate enemies in an area with a Mallet as well as use his Shark Cannon (Starter Weapon). Movement allows you to move in any direction, but only a few blocks per turn, however, you can also attack during movement, but running to the spot that an Enemy is standing (Dive Bombing them) and then running back to cover to end the turn. Super Powers are abilities that have been gifted to the Heroes by the Mysterious sender of Emails as per last paragraph of the Story discussion above. In Mario and Luigi’s case, they can activate a “Sniper Shot” Ability that stays active for one Enemy Turn. What happens here is that once activated, if an enemy runs within their line of sight, Mario or Luigi will take aim and shoot them with a 100% hit chance. With all this said, if you really plan things properly, you can decimate a battlefield within one or two turns or even bring down the toughest baddies in one turn before they can get to you! #Winning
Along with the Battles, you gain additional abilities like being able to move blocks out of the way to gain access to restricted areas. These abilities are awarded to you after beating the Final Boss of each World. Each world consists of a Mid-Boss (Mini Boss) and a Main Boss. There are four Worlds to explore and battle your way through, namely Ancient Gardens, Sherbet Desert, Spooky Trail and Lava Pits. The bosses should already be obvious, but just incase, yes, you do get to battle against Bwario and also eventually against Bowser on Steroids (Thanks Spawny)! It is worth mentioning that as the game progresses, the Puzzles, Battle Arenas and Abilities get incredibly Challenging! Baddies also eventually gain the ability to use Super Powers against you too, which means you need to plan your approach by using the Tacticam often. The Tacticam pauses the battle and allows you to fly over the arena and inspect baddies, hiding spots and even look for vantage points.
The Multiplayer can be accessed after you complete the Ancient Gardens World though a Building that the good Rabbids “constructed” (basically just an oversize head-guard from the human world) called the “BuddyDome”. Through the BuddyDome, you and a friend control a Team of Two Heroes and work together to complete a Campaign (each completed World).
There was so much about Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle that intrigued me and even still does (at the time of writing this review), small things, like, the Environmental Music. While playing in the gardens, the lillies look like trumpets and bounce like a speaker does with the beat and melody of the song. In the Desert, little Rabbid “sand bags” bounce on a drum in the same fashion. Bonus Levels exist, like in other Mario Brother’s titles and while playing, you notice the Rabbid, Human and Mushroom world elements, like a pair of over sized undies flapping in the wind like a flag. The Graphics and Sound are spectacular and stay very close to the classic theme but modernize them without ruining them. The humor is always on point, like when Rabbid Peach expects Mario to propose to “her” instead of the real Princess Peach. You interact with so many recognizable characters, like Toad… honestly, it is exceptionally difficult to fault this title. Everything is simple to understand. The battle system is fluid. The upgrade system is smart by using coins to purchase stronger weapons and completionists will enjot the fact that each World has a Secret Stage that they can discover by replaying a world using your new found abilities.
Developed and Published by Ubisoft, Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was released globally on 29 August 2017, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch Console. At the time of this review, you could pick up a physical copy from BT Games for R825.00 or a digital version from the Nintendo eShop for R849.00, with a download size of 2.6GB. This quite honestly is another one of the “Must Have” games for the Nintendo Switch Console, and at the time of writing this review, is the Switch game that I am most addicted to. It is probably also one of the most convenient to play in all three Switch Modes, so there is no excuse to stagnate with your progress. Yes, the price is quite high, but it is worth every golden coin (bad pun again sorry). If you are patient enough, you can try and find a pre-played copy somewhere for cheaper, but you need to play this “underestimated-at-announcement” title at least once. You will not regret it!