Nintendo allowed Ubisoft the creative freedom to use the Mario universe to make a completely original Mario game. Who would have thought they’d make an X-Com like turn based tactical shooter? Mario with a gun? WHAT?
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is like a fever dream. I’ve never played any of the other Rabbids games before, so this is my first time interacting with them. Wow can they be annoying. They are wildly chaotic creatures that tend to steal whatever scene they are in, even when Mario and friends are the focus.
The story begins as the Rabbids time travel into some kids bedroom who invented goggles that combine 2 objects that it’s looking at into 1. The Rabbids see Mario themed posters and objects and start forming Rabbid versions of Mario characters. The Rabbids are so chaotic that they strike their time travel machine, creating a vortex and sucking them all into the Mario universe. Bowser jr. gets ahold on the goggles and intends to use them nefariously. You then control Mario as he teams up with normal and Rabbid versions of himself and friends to get the goggles back and prevent more evil deeds.
You take control of Beep-0, a small hovering robot who leads Mario (a required party member), and two others through 4 different worlds. Each world has multiple chapters with mini-bosses and a final boss. The final boss’ really stand out as the best parts of the game, especially the opera singer at the end of world 3. Do yourself a favor and look that one up if you don’t plan on playing the game. Besides that, there is a hub world where you can access a multitude of structures that provide upgrades, challenges, an unlockable museum/gallery, and more.
Most of the game will be spent as a turn based cover shooter. You take turns moving your 3 party team around the battlefield and positioning them behind cover for protection. There are 2 types of cover, half and full. Half cover will give you a 50% chance that the receiving attack misses whereas full cover will protect you completely. High ground gives you more damage on your attacks but no other bonuses, even though it may look like you should be able to negate any cover bonuses. Some battlefields require you to defeat all enemies and some want you to reach a specified area. Occasionally you will have to escort a 4th member to the safety zone.
There are 8 playable characters, Mario, Luigu, Peach, Yoshi and Rabbid versions of themselves. Each character has 2 types of weapons and a skill tree. The skill trees aren’t all completely unique but you’ll get the gist of how each character should be played while leveling them up. Luigi is a long range sniper who can shoot at enemies during their turn up to 3 times. Peach can hop off a teammates head and heal everyone where she lands. Rabbid Luigi can go in and apply a vampirism status effect to enemies so that everyone can leach health off them. You get the idea.
In-between combat areas there are short puzzles that involve pushing blocks around or raising platforms in a specific order, all relatively easy. They’re not really satisfying to complete and are just an obstacle you need to clear in order to get hidden items and get to the next combat zone. Picking up random coins as you progress down the linear pathways is mostly useless as you will earn most of them as rewards at the end of battles, which you then use to upgrade your weapons.
There are challenge missions that you can play with a local coop partner that earn you skill orbs used for the skill tree. This was a nice addition. Each persion picks 2 characters to control. A friend and I played through some of the challenges and they got progressively tougher as it went on. Unlike the steep difficulty curve when you hit World 3.
The graphics are fantastic and exactly what you would expect out of a game that includes Mario. Each character looks true to their original design and each of the 4 worlds are equally beautiful to look at.
The music is outstanding. Top notch renditions of classic Mario themes plus a bunch of new original music that fits right in.
Final Thoughts – It’s a well made game that puts Mario and company in a completely different genre. If you like turn-based tactical shooters and Mario, then definitely give it a try. The difficulty curve spikes on World 3, but once you start upgrading your abilities to the higher tiers, you’ll make it through without too much trouble. The lack of platforming and rewarding puzzles made the out of combat portions of the game stale and boring, but doing 3-4 battles a day was enough to keep me interested until I beat it.