Whilst many were confused about Ubisoft’s Mario And Rabbid crossover prior to the (official) announcement, I was always optimistic. It’s refreshing to see Nintendo are trusting other publishers to use what is probably the most important IP in gaming history. Now, after the announcement and going hands on with the title myself, I’m convinced more than ever that this is the way Nintendo should diversify their franchises going forward.
It’s no secret that Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is heavily inspired by XCOM: Enemy Unknown’s tactical gameplay and it works surprisingly well. You’ll be taking the role of Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach and their quirky Rabbid counterparts, making your way through levels (which look like Mario 3D world) by guiding around a blue circle pointer. There’s pipes to get around, blocks to navigate and all kinds of things which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve played a Mario game before. While exploring and navigating around these delightfully familiar levels, you’ll eventually be faced with battles, which is where the game really shines.During battles, you’ll engage in turn-based strategy which involves you being able to move within a certain grid or interact with another one of your characters on screen who can help you get even further. If you choose, you can engage in melee combat if your enemy is in reach and once you’ve arrived at your destination, you can then use a gun (for the first time in the Mario series) to shoot enemies.
What surprised me most about Mario + Rabbids Battle Kingdom (apart from how stunning it looks) is the fact combat is quite complex. Not only are the melee/gun attacks quite varied, but you can make use of cover which is essential to staying alive. I died quite a few times during a boss battle which had me up against a Rabbid + Petey Piranha combo. There’s also a variety of weapons and special powers which are specific to the certain characters you’re using. There’s also a skill tree for each character which you’re able to interchange.There’s a decent story for you to play through too. The Mushroom Kingdom has been torn apart by a mysterious vortex which has somehow transported those pesky Rabbids into the world of Mario. The game has probably the nicest Mario cut scenes I’ve come across too. In-fact, I was surprised just how vibrant and beautiful the game is. It might just be the fact it’s running on a portable, but it is one of the best looking Mario games to ever hit a console.