Editor: Diane Hutchinson Editor@girlgamersuk.com

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 5 - 2017

The most unlikely mash-up results in pure entertainment.

 
Imagine the turn-based strategic battles from a game like XCOM, full of threat and seriousness. Replace those brave soldiers with the most famous inhabitants of Mushroom Kingdom, or crazy Rabbids dressed as those same characters. Replace the alien threat with yet more Rabbids, or Rabbids that have been somehow combined with other objects or creatures. Make the battleground bright and colourful, filled with destructible cover and pipes for moving to different levels. Add a whole bunch of silliness, some simple puzzles between the battles, and a healthy dose of collectibles, and you have Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.

 
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The idea of Ubisoft creating a Mario game that featured Rabbids is not something that would ever have occurred to me, and for that game to end up as a turn-based strategy seems so far fetched that it could only possibly exist in an alternate universe. But given that the Rabbids have a magical washing machine, I should not be surprised. The story, as if you need some justification for all of this madness, involves the creation of a VR headset that can splice things together. The Rabbids get hold of it and find themselves in the Mushroom Kingdom, where all hell breaks loose. It is down to Mario and co., along with their Rabbid counterparts, to return life in the Mushroom Kingdom to normal, whatever that is.

 
It’s a silly idea, but then the game is filled with more silliness than it has any right to be. The thing is, Kingdom Battle is genuinely hilarious, with the injection of Rabbids into the universe making a total mockery of everything. From Rabbid Peach with her attitude and constant need to take selfies, and the Rabbid Kong boss with his love for bananas, to little scenes as you wander the Mushroom Kingdom like poor Banzai Bill looking totally mournful with a giant pair of underpants on his head. The arrival of the Rabbids have completely turned the Mushroom Kingdom on its head, and the result is comedy gold.

 
Players will take their little troop of heroes through the various different environments of the Mushroom Kingdom, solving the occasional puzzle and collecting coins, or finding treasure chests with collectibles in, as they move from battle to battle. The game outside the battles is great fun and completionists will find plenty to work towards as unlocking new abilities as the game progresses will give access to new areas in previous levels.

 
marabking1

 
Starting out with just three characters in the team, players will gradually add more members to the roster, although only three can be taken into battle at one time. The characters also have skill trees that can improve their abilities, or unlock new skills for use in battle. Each character has a primary and secondary weapon, from regular guns and shotguns, through to melee weapons and explosive robotic toy cars. The variety is pretty impressive and covers every angle that a strategy expert would expect. They are also incredibly nonthreatening in that they are mostly cute and colourful, and that they simply send the enemies away rather than doing them any lasting damage. But then, you wouldn’t expect Nintendo to allow Mario to have a real gun, would you.

 
This speaks to the family-friendly nature of Kingdom Battle. The game is very accessible, but lets be serious here – it is a turn-based strategy game. It all starts off fairly innocently, and certainly younger players could enjoy the early moments of the game. But quite quickly, things become more complex and a players strategy becomes essential for completing battles, let alone getting a perfect. There is an easy option that gives the player more health, but it will still require tactical thinking and will be a struggle for younger gamers.

 
marabking2

 
Saying that even older, more experienced gamers may struggle with some of the battles. Battles tend to come in pairs for the most part, with players moving from one battle to the next without any replacement of lost health. The battles themselves are turn-based, with the player able to move, attack and use special abilities with each of their heroes before the enemy takes its turn. It is easy to work out how far a character can move, or how far their weapon can fire, although at times it can be difficult to see where the enemy is in the regular mode. There is a tactical mode where the player can view the battlefield and plan their movements before going back to regular, but I am not sure how many players would make use of this function.

 
The movement is pure genius in the battles. Players are able to do a dash attack with their characters, which is essentially a free attack, and it doesn’t affect their movement allowance. Characters are also able to use other characters to be sprung into the air, extending their movement and allowing access to higher levels for the advantage. It is even sometimes possible, depending on character, to land on an enemy for another attack. Then there are pipes found on some levels that allow movement far beyond the characters maximum. The clever player can string all of these together for some really satisfying multiple attacks. For example, Mario could dash attack an enemy, move to an ally, be sprung into the air to land on another enemy, then run around the corner and shoot the enemy from behind. Wrap it all up by setting Mario’s overwatch style skill and have him shoot an enemy when they next move. Awesome!

 
The objectives of the battles differ, sometimes having the player simply defeat ll of the enemies, while other battles may require a single character to reach a goal area at the other end of the battlefield, or even escort a poor little Toad across the battlefield. Things are also changed up with the different enemies, that take different tactics, and the bosses and midbosses. Just when the player begins to get comfortable, Kingdom Battle throws another problem into the mix.

 
marabking3

 
I love Mario, and I love Rabbids. But I have to admit that expectations were not high for this title. As it turns out, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is one of the best games I have played this year, across all of the platforms. It is surprisingly deep, there is plenty of challenge, and it is so funny. If you own a Switch and enjoy the idea of tactical battles in the Mushroom Kingdom, this is an essential purchase. Even if you have never played a tactical game in your life, pick up Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle anyway, as there is so much here to enjoy. Excellent!

 

 ★★★★★★★★★½ 



 

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