The new platform of the Japanese has been bombarding with interesting exclusive productions for several months. However, if you are among those less delighted customers who still complain about the lack of new IPs, then grab the consoles, throw Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle into it, and then admire it. The French do not invent a new genre, but show that even such a ridiculous mix can be astonishingly successful.
On November 18, 2016, i.e. two months before the Nintendo Switch presentation, four before the premiere of the device, and over half a year before E3 2017, where the game was presented, the first rumor about Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle appeared. Instead of a big show, at the Ubisoft conference in Los Angeles we already knew the length of the story, we saw the artwork out of the box and basically only the official video material was missing. Despite such a big setback, the French corporation managed to positively surprise, because by throwing its Rabbids into the world of the mustachioed Marian, a production was created that may boldly turn out to be one of the biggest surprises of 2017.
Three concepts form a perfect whole
On paper, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle looked bad, but fortunately the first films already showed that such an idea could be successful. In the game you will not come across a deep, memorable story, because the story is only a background for the gameplay and great humor taken from the best French productions. In short: the production offers a simple story, in which the Rabbids mentioned above gain mysterious equipment for connecting two elements and, thanks to its capabilities, threaten the entire Mushroom Kingdom. If that was not enough, young Bowser is significantly involved in this great chaos, and our task is to gather the team and save the whole world. The adventure is really not complicated, but it does not bother you at the same time, and thanks to the strong humor, I had no problem participating in this less than twenty-hour story.
The characters are a big advantage of the events. Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi and Rabbid Mario, Rabbid Luigi, Rabbid Princess Peach and Rabbid Yoshi is a set that can add color to even the most ordinary scenes in a unique way – characters from the world of Ubisoft do a good job here, who not only look like hilariously, they have their own characteristic movements. Probably not everyone will like the presented form of jokes, but as an ardent lover of the Stick of Truth, I can appreciate the work of the French.
The game can also boast a great, colorful setting, which is simply viewed with a lot of pleasure, because next to the two main game modes, we very often watch cutscenes presenting surprising quality. In fact, all four worlds visited by the team look good – we fall into a large garden here, another time we run in the desert, we have the opportunity to check the haunted area or the place soaked in lava. The sounding, which will be especially appreciated by the greatest fans of the Mario series, also makes a positive impression, because it is not difficult to find here sounds drawn from popular adventures. The item is basically a large dose of various Easter Eggs to discover with a lot of joy – posters featuring other titles, conversations about earlier stories, returning characters, or even the equipment itself that allows you to combine items.
Fight, create tactics, develop characters
In the first leaks, no one revealed the secret of the most important element of production. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is mainly a combination of the latest adventures from the XCOM series with a simple platformer with logic puzzles. It is these two different elements of the game that make the title not boring from the beginning, because the authors managed to maintain a healthy balance between fighting and running around locations – according to official information, the proportions are 65% of duels to 35% of running, but you can take my word for it, that the developers managed to find a golden mean.
Of course, the most important thing is to fight. By entering the designated places, a three-person squad moves to a separate arena, and the whole game is about making good use of weapons and characters’ abilities. Each of the heroes has different abilities, has their own skill tree, and also has different weapons, so after the first few hours you will easily notice that Ubisoft, under the cloak of a colorful adventure for children, has created a thoroughbred, strategic and tactical production that can tire .
During the competition, just like in the adventures of Firaxis Games studio, we have to hide behind obstacles, observe opponents well, learn their behavior, and ultimately a lot depends on our approach and prepared team. The French did not decide to expand the base, search for alien remains, or other pleasures known from XCOMs, but here we choose or buy guns, select skills and create a team before each duel. And it is not an easy matter, because after a few longer fights, it turns out that we need to thoroughly understand the character’s capabilities, because thanks to numerous dependencies, we create tactics that are suitable for specific opponents.
The creators managed to spread the “surprises” in the form of new opponents over time, so during the game we meet new rivals at every step, and even so the greatest pleasure is fought with bosses – the studio has created exquisite individualities that not only look great (the design of all characters is world championship!), but in addition they can force you to even more combining.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle surprises us when we actually realize that the characters are not only “puppets with givers”, and our arsenal will feature weapons with statistics and special powers – in addition, we constantly buy new copies for the currency we earn. Each of the heroes can use two toys that use two abilities, which we can combine in an interesting way and, consequently, better deal with opponents in the arenas. The title grows with each passing hour, and it was only at the end of the third world that I began to feel modest weariness with the material.
Run, explore, search and move
Fortunately, even after the most difficult fight, there is a moment of relaxation. Then the heroes run after the small Beep-O robot, which looks like an automatic vacuum cleaner with ears and eyes. It is this machine that helps to better understand the situation on the screen and allows heroes to participate in the great exploration.
The French have not decided on a typical platformer, so the three characters run after the mentioned robot, and during the journey Marian and the team cannot jump – their task is simply to collect coins or solve simple logical puzzles. Nobody will cry because of the level of the puzzles, because they were all created in a good-gentle way and they are simply not tiring while playing. It’s a banal “slide, slide, find, open”, which is a great change for more difficult duels with givers in the main roles.
Kozacki also prepared individual worlds, because it is difficult to lose oneself in them, and traversing other lands is pleasant. Despite all these delights, it was during the exploration that I encountered several inconveniences with the camera, which was blocked, and therefore I had a problem with the appropriate solution to the puzzle. Fortunately, the situation is not a standard, but only an accident at work, which will probably be fixed by one of the first updates.
The cooperation was a big surprise for me. In this case, two players using one Joy-Con each can participate in pleasant missions, but it’s a pity that the authors did not decide to compete online. In addition, the game lacks several PVP modes, which are just perfect for a prepared combat system – such a variant works well in the XCOM series and would definitely be a bull’s eye here. A small diversification of the adventure after the end of the main story is the possibility of visiting previously inaccessible places – in each of the worlds we pass several places, which we can enter only after gaining the appropriate skills. Some may even try to get all the collectibles or complete each duel with 100%, but it’s more fun for players who don’t have bigger plans for the next evenings.
XCOM for Mario fans
I did not believe it could work. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a great combination of three worlds (Mario + Rabbids + XCOM), in which each element has its place and harmonizes well with the other aspects of the project. The authors have created a great competition, which has been well “broken” with the help of exploration, and in addition, the whole thing looks charming and offers well-balanced puzzles with great humor. I just hope that it will not be a one-time “surprise”, and the French will surprise with the announcement of the continuation … The preparation of the story additions has already been confirmed, but such a brand must be continued with something more than just new missions. This is undoubtedly one of the titles that must be included in the library of Nintendo Switch owners, and at the same time another reason to look more favorably at the latest Japanese platform.