Wonderfully blending the tactical nuances of XCOM with the family friendly ridiculousness of the Rabbids and Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was a surefire hit when it launched on Switch last year. It should come at no surprise, then, that after going hands-on with 90 minutes of the game’s Donkey Kong DLC, Donkey Kong Adventure, that blend is still as strong (and as entertaining) as ever.
While you took the reigns as Mario for the Mario + Rabbids story, Donkey Kong Adventure instead switches control to Donkey Kong. Accompanied by Rabbid Cranky Kong and Rabbid Peach, the team are on a journey centred around taking out a familiar foe previously dispatched of in the main game.
I was told there were four worlds to explore in this “lengthy” piece of DLC, and 90 minutes of game time only got me through six combat scenarios in the first world. That included a shark-inspired mid-boss that gave me a bit of strife in terms of the way it interacted with my characters after being hit, alongside a bit of exploration and puzzle solving.
One of the biggest differences with this new piece of content is that Ubisoft have done a lot of work in regards to making this adventure feel uniquely Donkey Kong. You’ll be collecting bananas instead of coins, and each of the worlds have a discernible DK taste. This’ll be especially noticeable if you’ve been adventuring (or have adventured) through Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze recently, and it was a joy to navigate. I really like how the world I explored felt well realised within the Donkey Kong universe, even making use of barrels that fire you off into different parts of the world.
When it’s time to jump into combat scenarios, those who have played through the original story will notice not much has changed. That said, Donkey Kong and Rabbid Cranky have a handful of different abilities that change up the gameplay enough to feel fresh, especially for experienced players.
The most noticeable thing, for me, was that Donkey Kong does away with dash attacks when you move, and instead is able to pick up and throw objects, teammates, and enemies. This gives you a swath of options in terms of how you approach combat scenarios, from throwing enemies away from characters to grouping enemies together and dealing a tonne of damage with close-range attacks or blasts.
Similarly, DK’s long-range attack is via a banana, which can chain attack enemies that are close to one another. It also does damage to cover, too, meaning you can wear away at an enemy’s cover if you so please.
Rabbid Cranky’s abilities are a little less exciting, though his ability to put enemies within range to sleep for a turn became a pivotal part of my tactical play very early on in the preview session. Enemies like smashers — which do a tonne of damage if you aren’t careful — were dispatched of with relative ease thanks to this, and allowed me to focus on bigger threats.
It seemed like Cranky’s abilities and weapons were more suited to long-range attacks, which was a nice contrast with DK’s slew of close-range attacking options. This gave the game enough tactical depth to feel like each kind of character I’d usually run with in the original game were catered for here, with Rabbid Peach acting as an excellent healer for the team.
Of course, everything that made Mario + Rabbids such a tactically deep and enjoyable experience remains here, with Donkey Kong and Rabbid Cranky having a slew of skill tree upgrades you can work on as you play through the game’s story.
I’m not sure as to how long this piece of DLC will go for, but considering it took me 90 minutes to get around halfway through the first world, I’d safely assume we’ll be looking at around 5 – 7 hours of more Mario + Rabbids action. And that’s always a good thing. It looks like Ubisoft have done an excellent job in realising the Donkey Kong universe and it does enough to warrant a completely seperate (and paid) piece of content, and I’m really looking forward to playing through the full adventure when the DLC launches sometime in mid-2018.