When screenshots of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle were leaked prior to the game's official unveiling at E3 this year it is safe to say that the reaction was not universally positive. Nintendo has, on numerous occasions, worked with third-party developers and allowed them to use characters from their core franchises. The days of Mario and Zelda appearing in frankly appalling games on Phillip's CDi should be long forgotten. However, the initial reaction to Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle perhaps demonstrates how little faith people have in Nintendo outsourcing their mascot to other companies.
I have never been a particularly big fan of the Ubisoft's Rabbids, but I certainly don't have the same level of dislike for them that other members of the gaming public seem to. Reactions to the game prior to launch appeared to be almost universally negative. However, their inclusion in Mario's world really does work, mostly.
Mario, together with other heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom and some Rabbid imitators must engage in turn-based combat in a style similar to the X-Com
series against enemy Rabbids and other 'things' across four worlds of varying theme and difficulty.
There is an awful lot to like about Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
. The game certainly delivers on the premise of turn-based strategy designed for short sessions that can be played for either extended periods or for brief amounts of time.
I did find myself playing the game for the majority of the time in handheld mode, although when playing on my TV the game did look significantly better. The Mushroom Kingdom looks as inviting as ever and Ubisoft has faithfully, no doubt with Nintendo's aid, recreated the look and feel of the characters from the Mario universe.
More creativity in design has been extended to the Rabbids, with depictions of 'Rabbid Mario,' 'Rabbid Luigi' and my personal favourite 'Rabbid Princess Peach.' These cosplay versions of the main heroes are well realised, each focussing on an element of the real character and caricaturing it. Rabbid Mario's large black moustache is rather unsettling, as is the way in which Rabbid Princess Peach is so intent on taking selfies at every opportunity, despite the obvious dangers the group are in. Visually the fusion between the two worlds works very well. However, other elements feel less well suited.
The game features quite frequent cutscenes that are sometimes amusing but often feel overly long. This is an element that feels at odds with games in the Mario series that have always emphasised getting the player to play as quickly as possible. Generally when Mario games have veered towards greater storytelling, outside of the Paper Mario
series, it has not been particularly well received.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
reminded me a little of the 'worst' game in the 3D Mario series, Mario Sunshine
, but with the cutscenes taken to an even greater extreme. One boss battle towards the end of World 3 rather irritated me, particularly having to watch it several times because of repeated failure in battle. It wasn't funny the first time I saw it, it was even less so by the third and fourth times. The game could have been considerably improved if there was a greater focus on the core gameplay which is by and large extremely fun.
In order to bring sanity back to the Mushroom Kingdom players must put together a team of three characters, a combination of heroes and friendly cosplaying Rabbids, and engage them in battle across four different worlds. These worlds are the usual combination of grasslands, deserts/ice world, haunted houses and lava worlds.