Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Review
“Especially in these dark times, with the Mario and Rabbids crossover.” This was something I wrote in my Nintendo E3 wishlist article. I wrote this because I had seen the leaked images, and I wasn’t excited for it. But, I’ve played the game, and my thoughts have changed. So, do I think it’s better or worse than I thought before?
The Rabbids are travelling around in their time travelling washing machine, yes, that’s a real thing, and appear in a tech genius’s room. However, she is also a huge fan of Nintendo, and more importantly, Mario. She has created a device that allows two items to be fused. One of the Rabbids puts it on, he starts blasting things and fusing them with other Rabbids. He accidentally shoots the washing machine, sucking everyone in, as well as a Super Mario poster. This causes a portal to open in the Mushroom Kingdom, sucking everything and everyone in. Mario goes in, and accompanied by Beep.0, the helper for the tool that fuses things. The Rabbid using it ends up getting fused and becomes Spawny. Now Mario goes along with Rabbids that think they’re Peach and Luigi, and is trying to find a way to reunite with his friends and change the Mushroom Kingdom back to the way it was.
This is the strangest part of the game by far. Mario +Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a tactical turn-based RPG. Mario isn’t a stranger to turn-based RPGs, but none are like this. That’s because the main weapons are guns, but they aren’t traditional guns, they’re stereotypical sci-fi guns. However, there are many other ways to attack.
Weapons are the main form of attacking, but there are a wide array of main and sub weapons between the eight characters. The main weapons are all similar, but Luigi’s weapon is more of a sniper, in contrast to Yoshi and Rabbid Yoshi having Gatling guns. The sub weapons are also very different, although the characters do share them. There’s the Sentry, which aims for a target and keeps going for the enemy until it hits them, or is killed. Next up is the Hammer, which is used for insane damage, but only when you’re right next to the enemy. There’s also the Rocket Launcher which has a large area of effect, so it’s good for hitting a lot of enemies in close range. And finally, the Ducks. This may sound like a joke, but it has a large area of effect, and it can also reach super far across the map.
Another way to attack is by moving. This is one of Kingdom Battle’s most unique traits, as each character has movement abilities that can change battle. Each character can dash enemies, but Rabbid Luigi can do a dash that drains health, or Rabbid Mario can do a dash that causes an explosion, and every character can be upgraded to have multiple dashes. This is in addition to the Team Jump, where a character can jump off of another, expanding their movement area. However, this can also lead to special effects, like Mario being able to jump off of enemies, or Peach having a healing area when she lands, or Yoshi doing a Ground Pound around his landing spot.
And finally, the abilities. These have a less direct effect on combat, but really can change the tide of battle. Some of these are damaging, such as an ability shared between four characters that attacks an enemy that moves within range. One of the less direct abilities that really helps are the abilities that strengthen attacks, or have a shared defense buff. And finally, there are abilities that don’t have any attacking advantage, like the abilities that let you move an extra space, or allowing you to heal anyone in range.
These different ways of attacking and moving throughout the battlefield not only help keep the game interesting, but they also help with replay value. You can buy and use different weapons to either make yourself super under or overpowered, making the game experience different on repeat playthroughs. Another great thing about this system, is that the enemies can do everything you can do. Granted, that doesn’t happen until closer to the end, but it still makes the end game more of a challenge, which should happen. That’s also because this game has a great difficulty curve, as it has systems in place so you’re always at the level you should be, but you’re never stronger than you’re supposed to be.
Aesthetically, this is just a Mario game. It’s got the colors, the joy, and the music, oh my god the music. It is composed by Grant Kirkhope, who was the composer of almost every great N64 game, most notably Banjo Kazooie. But, do the Rabbids change the look? Not really. The enemies are all Rabbids that have been fused with items. Other than that, and having Rabbid ears on many things, they could be easily missed. Another thing is that the four lands are each very unique and diverse from one another. The first world is obviously the grass land area, although the giant block tower towards the end is unique. The second world is a desert like normal, but it also adds in the obligatory ice world, so the overall environment is something never seen before. The third world is the haunted world, but the abandoned towns you travel through give the world an air that something terrible happened there. And the final world…is the lava world. However, the game mixes it up by the world by being a factory, and using the lava as a tool.
This game has no right to be as good as it is. Taking the land and characters of Mario, the Rabbids, and the gameplay of XCOM, and fusing it all together shouldn’t work, but it does. That really encompasses this whole game, a weird hodgepodge of ideas that somehow work. The different abilities, attacks, and ways to move all work together and help carve out a unique identity for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. It makes me happy that this game is actually fun, and it makes me excited for the upcoming DLC. This game does have flaws, mostly because it gets repetitive throughout the middle, but that doesn’t completely hamper the experience.