Ubisoft and Nintendo spent years collaborating on a new franchise that combines two fascinating, yet very different brands. The Rabbids series has been around for years, though it has never stepped up like it does in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. As any gamer knows, Mario is one of the most important gaming franchises of all time.
Together, these two create Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, an experience with miles of personality and fun. I’m happy to say this game is a showcase experience for the Nintendo Switch. When combining the entertaining, yet challenging combat with its wondrous worlds, the entire presentation makes for a very compelling package. Switch already owns a number of outstanding exclusives, and now you can add Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle to that collection.
Let’s start by talking about the game’s entertaining world. The Mushroom Kingdom hangs in the balance thanks to Spawny, a Rabbid whose curiosity leads to a faulty headset device, which creates wacky combination after wacky combination. Hence, the name Mario + Rabbids. The opening of the game gives us a hilarious look at how things get to where we are. Once you begin playing, it is immediately clear the effects this device has on the world.
Rabbid Luigi and Rabbid Peach are just two examples of the character combinations you’ll find. New characters come along as you play, some to join your team and others to fight it. Through the four unique worlds, each contains miles of charm, both visually and in the personalities you meet.
Make no mistake, each world you encounter is very much a Mario world. The Rabbids help round out its landscape and provide some odd, but entertaing visuals. The roads of each world show the Rabbids creating all kinds of kooky, fun havoc. All four pair nicely with the charming and funny dialogue. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle generates plenty of smiles, as banter from Beep-O and others is perfect. Its narrative is very fun and brilliantly takes advantage of the Mario + Rabbids concept.
Gamers will be able to find loads of secret chests along the way. These possess collectibles such as art, new soundtracks, weapons, orbs and more. Gamers can visit the museum by Peach’s Castle to enjoy the two aforementioned collectibles. Most important of these collectibles are the weapons.
Exploring and completing puzzles often times yield bonus chests which contain important items. These enhance the feeling of discovery within Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Bonus chests can be found by exploring or completing red coin challenges. When players walk through a red circle, eight red coins appear around you. You must collect all eight before time runs out. If you do, a bonus chest then bestows upon you a valuable reward.
Similarly, blue coin challenges are a blast as well. Once you find the blue cannon, which shoots players into another world, it is time to collect. Coins are scattered once again, and gamers must solve small platforming puzzles while collecting every blue coin before time runs out. This also yields a powerful reward like a new weapon. These challenges help break up the gameplay a bit, so you’re not just running from battle to battle.
Speaking of battles, these are the delicious bread and butter of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Its combat is a wonderful example of a system that’s easy to learn and hard to master. The game keeps combat nimble early on, but it does a fabulous job of introducing more difficult enemies as you progress.
All enemies have a Rabbids or Mario twist to them, and each is deadly. Through each world, you’ll have basic enemies with lower health counts, but then you’ll also encounter foes with higher health bars and devastating abilities. Midboss and boss fights provide the biggest combat challenges along the way. Some have more powerful abilities than you do, and this is all part of managing your team.
Combat scenarios can vary. Some instances will ask players to reach a point at the end of a battlefield. Others will have you escort key characters to a similar end point. The latter two scenarios change up combat strategy in a clever way. It was a smart move on Ubisoft’s part to add some wrinkles to combat, instead of relying on the “defeat all enemies” scenario.
I very much enjoyed the escorting missions, as they forced me to consider a battlefield’s layout, enemy types, enemy positions and the locations of obstacles I could hide behind. As you play through the game, you quickly realize certain character abilities or weapons should be used at specific times. If you don’t realize what to use when, you’ll most likely find yourself in a tough spot.
Battle HQ is where players can select characters prior to each battle. They can also purchase and equip weapons as well as unlock abilities upgrades for each character. Characters unlock new abilities by earning orbs, which are racked up during combat or when finding bonus chests littered throughout the world. For the most part, upgrades turn out to be similar for each character. These include benefits like increasing the damage of your dash, reducing ability cooldown duration, team jump perks and more.
One interesting design choice by Ubisoft was to make orbs character-based. Each character earns and spends orbs separately. I actually like this so you don’t feel like you have to delegate orbs to every character. Making it character-specific gives the player far more freedom.
Weapons tend to be fairly simple with each character having a primary and secondary weapon. The former is what you’ll use most often and usually is a range weapon. The latter tends to damage any enemy within a given radius. You can unlock new guns that possess perks like honey (restricts enemy movement), stone (restricts enemy movement), push (literally pushes enemies back) or fire (do I really need to say what this does?). Keep in mind that some enemy weapons have these same perks and they can affect your team too.
Rabbid Peach’s healing ability comes into play quite often for me. Mario’s hero sight is another handy one, which enables him to shoot an enemy if they move during a turn. Rabbid Luigi has a vampire dash that sucks health from enemies and takes it for himself. Keep in mind enemies also tend to have some of these abilities, which provide a new level of strategy.
Combat as a whole is a very rewarding experience. The quicker you can reach the objective for each battle, the better. Completing it in under the specified number of turns, and with all heroes intact, means a perfect rating. Perfect ratings will yield more coins for spending on things like weapons.
Character abilities have cooldowns, so you’ll need to be mindful of when to use them. Each can be very effective when utilized during the appropriate moment. Understanding your enemies, their movements, abilities and weapons is all very important to winning. Ubisoft does a fine job of creating varied enemies and an AI system that’ll truly challenge you.
Combat evolves nicely, and in fact, it becomes far more difficult the deeper you get in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Late game battles will force the use of your full arsenal of weapons and abilities. These combat instances make for some extremely rewarding victories. When you compare combat at the beginning of the game versus the end, it’s incredible to see how much deeper it gets.
Thanks to its stunning world and kooky cast, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a charming and challenging experience that’ll make you smile and laugh. Its characters and world provide the ideal environment for the game’s exacting combat. Each world contains fun secrets worth discovering and hilarious moments around every turn. Great replayability is here thanks to the many challenges that await you after conquering each world.
Ubisoft’s Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle performs well and is a breakout Switch exclusive most owners will enjoy. Stick around here at We Write Things for more on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Ubisoft provided We Write Things with a Switch code of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle for the purposes of this review.