Once in a generation, we get this out of box game that at first sounds like it wouldn’t work. One example is Kingdom hearts combining Disney franchises with Final Fantasy characters but it was a commercial hit that spanned multiple titles and even got mobile games. Nintendo isn’t one to shy away from doing something out of the box just look at Square’s Super Mario RPG at the time nobody thought Mario was going to get an RPG especially not from one of the top RPG game developers but Square and Nintendo made a deal and is now acclaimed for being fresh and unique. Can the same be said with the Ubisoft Mario+Rabbid crossover?
SuperMerge And The Rabbid Problem
Ubisoft wanted to make a tactical adventure game with Mario and the Rabbids for a while now but things had to be worked out with Nintendo such as how to do the guns right and how the game would be played. Nintendo gave the game there approval liking that it was not the traditional Mario platformer but something new to the super Mario bros universe. And so the team over at Ubisoft Paris worked hard to get their vision of Mario+Rabbid Kingdom Battle out for the fans.
Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle looks fantastic and charming. It’s a combination of the Mario world with aspects of the Raving Rabbids. As you play through the game, you will notice that the four worlds have different themes and does it exceptionally well. Starting off with the Ancient Gardens which is based on a jungle setting, Sherbet Desert which is a wasteland, Spooky trails as the name suggests it’s a level based on everything spooky, and the lava pits which is the home of Bowser. The story is in many ways a traditional Mario plot but with a twist and that is the Rabbids. Mario must go out into the splintered Mushroom kingdom and save the princess and the kingdom from Bowser Jr. In this instance, that princess is actually Spawny, a rabid who got infused by advanced technology from the human world called the SuperMerge that transforms objects together to make a hybrid object in this instance it turns Rabbids into rabid super Mario characters. It’s a fun story with plenty of bosses and variety in enemies and interesting playable characters.
After you get through the tutorial section of the game you run into Princess Peach at her castle, you will notice right away that buildings are damaged and some are destroyed. With the help of some friendly Rabbids repairs on the castle gets underway. As you progress through the game you will unlock new buildings and new entry ways into other levels. Another little detail you notice is as you beat levels you start to see décor from those levels around the castle. Which is good because it offers a sense of progression.
Nintendo is known to have some of the best soundtracks in the gaming industry, they achieve this by having great in house music composers and freelancers. This is no exception for Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Ubisoft hired music composer Grant Kirkhope who is known for creating the soundtracks to Donkey Kong 64, Star Fox Adventures, GoldenEye 007 and several other soundtracks. Grant Kirkhope does a great job at making this game feel alive, with adventure waiting for you.
Mario Gets A Blaster
A big inspiration Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle has for the strategy gameplay stems from games like XCOM and Advance Wars. The difference is the game is focused on being on the move instead of getting behind cover and shooting from a distance. Rabbid shaped pipes help with moving across the map and are spread across the map in certain spots. Another advantage to this type of gameplay is that you’re always getting close to enemies to dash at them taking out health or using explosives to do some serious damage. There are features like jumping on team mates to get further or jumping on enemy’s heads as a way to get further and do damage. In total, the gameplay is fast, smooth and enjoyable for those who just want to play a good strategy game on the go.
Surprisingly they were able to fit a co-op mode to the game, the way you access the mode is through one of the buildings at Princess Peach’s castle called the Buddy Dome. When you access the Buddy Dome you will have the option to play as two heroes per controller. One of the only times you will not have to play as Mario since the campaign requires Mario to be team leader at all times. There are a variety of 5 worlds that offer several levels and are from the campaign. It can be a fun experience if you play with the right people and understand how the combat is since there will be two of you the game can be easier to manage but will also require both of you to think about your next move.
Mario Meets XCOM
In many ways, Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle is like XCOM and in that fashion, they share similar ways of upgrading a character through the skill tree. Skill sets offer a range of unique abilities for characters, it falls under 4 categories, movement, attack, technique, and other. Each character will have different abilities such as being able to do more damage with character specific abilities like Mario’s Hero Sight or increase the amount of health to team mates with Rabbid Princess Peach heal ability. It’s also used to increase character overall health and movement space letting you move further. The different amount of abilities and way you can structure your team is pretty good just wish there were a few more abilities for each character but there is still enough content to make the game interesting.
Bosses in the game are well designed and crafted. They tend to be pretty difficult so expect a tough fight but usually, it rewards you with a new ability for Beep-0, the little robot that guides the team and offers upgrades to health and skills to Mario and the rest of the fighters. Without getting into any spoilers the two bosses that stuck out to me was The Phantom and Rabbid Kong. The Phantom was unique because he was one of the only Rabbids that could talk, he was based around an opera singer so naturally, he tends to insult Mario in song format it’s quite enjoyable to see and the boss battle is designed fairly that it’s not too difficult while offering a challenge. Rabbid Kong is unique in the sense that you’re battling Mario’s oldest rival Donkey Kong the twist is it’s a Rabbid version, he tends to hog the bananas and knock you off the map so watch out for those ground slams.