Developers: Ubisoft Paris / Ubisoft Milan
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle is the first Super Mario game to arrive on the Nintendo Switch, and it’s brought the characters of the Ubisoft Rabbids franchise.
After a scientist creates a device known as the ‘SuperMerge’, technology that can combine two separate objects into one new creation, the Rabbids arrive and get their hands on the device. Chaos then ensues as the Rabbids enter the Mushroom Kingdom, using the ‘SuperMerge’ to create hilarious fusions. When one of the Rabbids merges with the device, becoming ‘Spawny’, Mario and the rest of the Mushroom heroes must team up with a group of good Rabbids in order to stop him.
What plays out from there is an amusing, though somewhat challenging combat game, a mixture of Worms/XCOM style turn based combat, and a Mario title. Whilst at first this might seems like a strange blend, it’s actually one that works brilliantly well.
The bright and colourful environments of the Mario series are used to create some varied and interesting combat arenas, with items like pipes allowing from different travel options and tactics, and Bow Wow’s creating deadly hazards that can affect both sides in a battle.
The enemy teams themselves are made up from a combination of Rabbids of varying types, including some that have been merged with recognisable Mario characters, such as Rabbid Kong. Meanwhile, the heroes are a group of four, with the player able to choose from Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, or the Rabbid versions of them.
The interactions between the Mushroom heroes and their Rabbid counterparts are often amusing, and help to build a shared universe. The way that Rabbid Peach inspects the real Princess Peach and judges her appearance with evil glares is a particular highlight.
The gameplay is very enjoyable, with beautiful environments to explore between combat sections, many of which are filled with easter eggs and hidden jokes.
Combat itself makes use of the varied weapons and abilities of each character to create a playstyle that makes it stand out from other turn based combat games. Whilst some titles such as XCOM will have you keeping your squad close together, Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battles encourages you to split your team up whilst using them to enhance each other with combat and movement boosts.
Whilst the smaller arena and team size makes the combat simpler than other games of this particular genre the difficulty curve is quite steep, making later combat something that can be incredibly challenging, even after unlocking new weapons and upgrading abilities. The game does allow you to tackle the combat on ‘Easy Mode’, which gives you extra health with which to tackle the fight, unfortunately there’s no normal or medium difficulty, leading to some hard decisions on how you intend to approach fights.
Unlockable abilities and extra challenges also means that there’s a lot of replay value in the game, with players able to go back to retry missions once they’ve progressed further in order to get a better ranking and unlock more rewards.
Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle offers players a variety of combat and encourages dedication and replay in order to hone your skills. Whilst some gamers that are veterans of the genre may find the game on the simple side there’s enough content to keep people entertained for hours.
Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle is out now for Nintendo Switch. Let us know what you thought of the game!