Mario + Rabbids was the controversial announcement that had Nintendo fans confused and gamers mostly enraged as to what looked like a sad cash grab for the beautiful new Nintendo Switch console. This was only fueled further at E3 2017 when the game’s creator Davide Soliani cried as the game was presented by Shigeru Miyamoto (there are several hilarious memes showcasing this ) If you would have told me that Mario + Rabbids would become one of my favourite games of 2017 I would have laughed at you, slapped you and charged you $5 (in that exact order!) Instead we have been delivered a solid Switch title that is full of hardcore strategy, humour and beautifully detailed cartoon graphics that make this a stand out Switch title that I will no doubt be playing over and over (well at least until Mario Odyssey comes out)
The game starts out with the SupaMerge, an augmented reality headset that yanks the Rabbids from RabbidLand (?) and pulls them into the Mushroom Kingdom. The merge rips apart the world and merges some of the Rabbids into Rabbid Luigi and the hilarious Rabbid Peach, while seperating the Mario characters from each other. Along with it it brings some Rabbid enemies into the Kingdom and the team of unlikely heroes must strategise the best way to push them back and defeat them while also shooting them with guns. Admittedly at first this was a surprise, Mario does not use a gun, and once I got past my really large issue with this I settled into the game and enjoyed it for what it was.
As you travel through the worlds named after a traditional Mario game 1-1, 1-2 etc you are also guided by an artificial intelligent bot named Beep-O. The bot also uses the SupaMerge to help your team travel throughout each land which is themed to fire, ice, forest world the usual line up. That being said the level and quality of the backgrounds and characters is beautiful and shines on both the Switch’s tablet screen and when docked to a TV. The biggest surprise of this game is the level of difficulty. There is no hand holding, no “super easy story mode” that you can switch (ha!) into and is forgiving. The game requires a lot of concentration, strategic planning and a fair amount of luck to pull of the right moves to advance to the next area.
Given a game of this magnitude I was surprised at just how difficult it was and Ubisoft have done an amazing job of making this an addictive and rewarding experience. If you have ever played XCOM you will feel right at home here, but for me a newbie to this kind of genre I found it an interesting style of gameplay that brought out the game rage in me while also providing a rewarding experience when I did stick at it and not switch it an easier mode (which gives you 50% more health) it was a rewarding experience that now wants me to try and dabble into games like XCOM and other games like it.
The game spreads over 9 chapters with 3-4 battles in each chapter. However you are required to have Mario and at least one Rabbid character in each battle. You can also upgrade weapons, skills and abilities in the skill tree. Throughout the journey you earn coins which you can use to purchase new weapons as well as collecting power orbs which let you buy new abilities and upgrade existing ones for your characters. This level of complexity in a seemingly kiddy game ensures that this game stands out from the rest.
A game of this caliber also has a lot of characters and their quirky abilities and traits are engaging. One of my favourites Rabbid Peach who takes a selfie everytime she performs a move as well as readjusting her wig never gets old (regardless of what anyone else says!) while Rabbid Yoshi has the most adorable dinosaur outfit and attitude to match. As someone who never got into the whole Rabbids thing I found myself oddly entertained by them a few hours into this game. I’m not sure if it’s because they blend with Mario so well or possibly they have been toned down for this game but I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to dive into another round.
Mario + Rabbids : Kingdom Battle is the surprise game of 2017 that I am delighted to give a full 5 stars to based purely on its story, inventive gameplay mechanics, gorgeous graphics and boldness to take a risk and do something different and daring. The game is just as fun on the go or docked to a TV and I am looking forward to many more rounds of this game to come.
Mario + Rabbids : Kingdom Battle is out now exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.
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