Gaming can produce some of the least likely formulas for success, and then they turn out to be amazing. Nintendo is a company that always ventures off the beaten path, both with their games and hardware. No land is too far and no concept is too weird when it comes to Nintendo.

The company inspires many in the industry to be creative and thoughtful. Many take note of this and some are teaming up with them to bring new experiences. One example of this is Ubisoft, who is teaming up with Nintendo to deliver Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

It made its debut at E3 2017 and was one of the biggest surprises at the show. The Nintendo Switch exclusive is mashing together the world of Ubisoft’s Rabbids with the famous universe of Mario. Together, they create Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a potentially game changing experience for both companies.

Moving hardware is partly about creating software you can’t find anywhere else. Nintendo constantly does an outstanding job of creating original, unique IP that begs to be bought. Another hit may be in our midst with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. In an exclusive interview with We Write Things, Andrea Babich, who is a lead narrative designer on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, compared and contrasted the two franchises.

Four of the eight playable characters in Mario + Rabbids (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

“When we started doing initial animation tests with Mario characters and Rabbids, we instantly knew we hit on something. They both are very strong on physical comedy! Yet there are some differences: Mario characters are somehow more heroic, ‘lawful’ so to say, while Rabbids are mischievous, chaotic. Mixing these two attitudes we were able to get this great contrast– you have the good guy and the crazy guy, they interact and boom! Something funny is bound to happen.

“As the Rabbids invaded the Mushroom Kingdom, many crazy transformations ensued. I love a lot the way the Enemy Rabbids merged with elements of the Spooky Trails area. The spooky zones of Mushroom Kingdom are always surprising in Mario games, and if you add Rabbids to the mix things can get really weird. In particular, there’s a ghostly opera singer that is already becoming quite a sensation,” Babich said.

Ubisoft and Nintendo are collaborating on some very interesting characters to say the least. It feels like any combination isn’t off limits and anything is possible. Gamers know they’ll be teaming up with Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Luigi from the start, but who else will they encounter along the way?

While going hands-on with the game at E3, the world I encountered was a colorful, lively universe. Enemies will vary from world to world and the actions of foes will likely change. There’s a charm about this game that’s impossible to ignore and Ubisoft seems to be taking advantage. Babich talked about how enemies will evolve as you progress.

Worlds will differ in many ways when playing Mario + Rabbids (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

“By designing the different worlds, we always wanted to keep together form and function. Let’s use as an example the first Enemy Rabbid breed you meet in the game, the Ziggies. When you’ll meet them again in the second World, they’ll look different, reflecting the style of the new setting. But that’s not enough, so they will have a smarter way to attack and more effective weapons: you have to keep in mind what you already know about them, but also learn how to counter their new skills.

“At the same time, totally new enemies are introduced world after world, ranging from common ones to midbosses and bosses (luckily, you’ll meet also new Heroes to make your character roster more powerful and versatile). Moreover, there are some other characters that are not necessarily hostile per se, but may attack both Heroes and Enemies. You may have seen the Chain Chomps in Ancient Gardens – you’ll find other stuff like that, expect the unexpected!” Babich said.

There sounds like progression will be in how the worlds flow. Ubisoft says that while the initial world may be “straightforward,” later levels will be “more intricate” while exploring. Abilities and tools for players to use will also evolve throughout the experience. Gamers can expect “special contextual abilities” to be available along the way.

With the approach of combining both worlds into one, there may be some limits on creative ideas. However, Nintendo has given developers miles of encouragement and freedom to be creative. As Babich says, being funny and irreverent with iconic Nintendo elements was more than allowed.

Combat sounds like it’ll evolve as you progress through each world (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

“We worked closely with Nintendo to find the right balance. We never really thought in terms of quantity or percentage. The strong idea at the basis was to have the Rabbids break into the Mushroom Kingdom and having them playing around, even spoofing the super-iconic elements created by Nintendo. The cool thing, in my opinion, is that Nintendo always encouraged us to try and mix up things.

“They encouraged us to be irreverent, so to say. It was then a matter of finding the funniest tuning for the jokes, the spoofs and the parodies. But it’s not just a matter of funny moments: there is a real plot developing as you progress – and that’s where the unexpected encounter between Mario and friends and the Rabbids has an even bigger chance to shine,” Babich said.

There are a lot of opportunities for gamers to make choices in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Hundreds of weapons are unlockable throughout the game, and each effects both playstyle and special effects. Babich spoke about how they crafted depth into the game’s progression and customization.

“For different reasons and in different ways, depth is a very important aspect both in Mario games and in tactical games… and in all the games we, as gamers, love to play! So, when you want do develop a Tactical Mario game… you know depth has to be there. With more than 250 weapons, a dedicated Skill Tree for each of the eight playable characters, unlockable contextual actions and team rank ups, there’s really a lot to discover in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

Each character has their own skill tree for you to customize (Courtesy of Ubisoft).

“Still, a true Mario experience, no matter the gameplay, must stay accessible. We tried our best to follow the classic ‘easy to pick up, hard to master’ philosophy. You won’t be overloaded with stats and numbers but, at the same time, by combining the skills of the different Heroes you can really create your unique gaming style on the battlefield. We already saw players winning battles in ways we’d not expect and this is very thrilling for us as developers,” Babich said.

Gamers may not level up like they typically think of leveling up in a game. However, increases in damage or health are very likely, and as new abilities come along, choices will be made. Gamers will apparently collect Power Orbs to unlock new abilities and more. What unlocks you choose will drastically impact your combat experience.

“Speaking of ‘max level’ for characters, let’s say that much of the advanced gameplay involves the ability of re-customizing the Skill Tree for you characters. In the game you collect Power Orbs that can be spent to purchase this or that Skill in the Skill Tree: secondary weapons, special Techniques, crazy upgrades, everything. Still, at some point, you may realize that you want to invest your Power Orbs differently.

“You can just reset the Skill Tree for that Character and customize it in a different way, having, for example, a character very strong in Movement Abilities (such as dashing an enemy) but a bit weaker in terms of HP or with less effective Technique abilities. So, even if there is a strong sense of buildup and progression, at higher levels you are mostly looking for your own creative approach in balancing your powers,” Babich said.

So much potential lies within Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Both Ubisoft and Nintendo may see major gains as a result of this experience’s potential success. If this new Switch exclusive turns out as amazing as it seems, both will have a new hit franchise on their hands. The game will release this coming Tuesday, Aug. 29. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that. Contact me at [email protected]
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