Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle takes the familiar world that is the Mushroom Kingdom and mixes up the traditional gameplay formula in what has to be the most fun turn based system I’ve experienced. Oh and there’s a host of wild Rabbids thrown in to boot as well! Can you restore the Mushroom Kingdom to its former glory?
The story line here with Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is relatively simple one and is based on a young girl who is a skilled inventor who is busily working away on her latest creation called the SupaMerge helmet which has the ability to merge two items into a single entity in a bid to solve the energy crisis. However disaster strikes and her basement is invaded by none other than the Rabbids thanks to their trusty time machine. One of the Rabbids puts on the helmet and touches the time machine causing all of the Rabbids and Beep-O to be sucked into a dimensional vortex. The Rabbids are of course under the control of the SupaMerge helmet and are causing all sorts of chaos and damage to the Mushroom Kingdom. It’s up to you (Mario), Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Luigi to set things straight in the Mushroom Kingdom and it’s here that your journey begins.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle does a fantastic job at easing in slowly to the task at hand thanks to its interactive tutorial system. There are only so many paths you can choose to explore in the Mushroom Kingdom initially so it’s near impossible to get lost or miss your intended objective which is clearly pointed out for you. There are a host of locked areas and paths that can of course be accessed once you progress and unlock newer abilities. It is not long before you venture into your first battle and it’s here that the game mechanics are explained in a rather easy and simple setting which I found helpful given I am not overly a fan of turn based combat.
Essentially you are part of a three person team which must defeat the enemy Rabbids by making the most of your own personal abilities and by making use of the available cover on the battlefield. You must work together by bouncing off each other and using your special abilities and weapons. The first battle requires you to defeat your enemy, while other battles may require you to reach the safe zone any way that you can. Either way, the approach can be somewhat similar depending on your chosen path, to which there can be many. Scattered around the battle zone are full and half sized blocks that act as a protective barrier for you to seek cover behind. Each character has varying abilities ranging from how far they can move to how hard they can hit as well as jump. As you progress through the game you begin to unlock new weapons and abilities that further enhance your characters. For example Rabbid Peach can perform her dash attack on up to four enemies. Mario on the other hand has the ability to use a giant hammer that can cause widespread devastation to those in its way. These upgrades will of course change the way you play and choose your strategies for success.
Back to the first battle for a moment, the idea is to use the various levels of cover to flush out the enemy and even flank them and unleash your weapons to destroy them where they stand. Prior to shooting or attacking an enemy, you can see the percentage chance that your hit will or will not be successful. This helps when choosing who to attack for the maximum benefit possible. If an enemy is behind cover, you may take two or three hits to destroy that cover before you can expose the enemy, so trying to flank the enemy is a great strategy to get alongside them ready to attack.
The battlefield maps do vary in design, ranging from flat open spaces to varying levels and zones accessible on via large jumps or warp pipes. Also as you progress through the game your roster of characters also increases.
In terms of overall difficulty, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is not a walk in the old Mushroom Kingdom. As you complete each battle you are given a ranking score, initially I would score a solid Perfect by completing the objectives within the set moves and with no character deaths, however this would soon change as the difficulty increased. However this gives you the option to keep replaying levels in order to earn that Perfect score. Also its worth mentioning that Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle does tend to have difficulty spikes which can see you breeze through one level and then spend an hour on the next which can be frustrating as it’s not as linear as one would expect. The enemies that you face during your time in the Mushroom Kingdom do vary as well from the usual Rabbid drones so to speak. The boss fights are also well designed and so too are the mini boss fights which at times felt equally (if not more) harder than the actual boss fights.
One of the things I truly enjoyed about Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was continuing to explore the Mushroom Kingdom and seek out as many treasure boxes and items whenever I could. These items or cards allow you to customise your characters weapons and line-up in the Battle HQ area. The more coins you can find equate to more coins that you can spend on weapon upgrades for your squad. The upgrades are essential and equally important as each character and weapon choice you make can have vastly different effects on the battlefield, for example sometimes selecting a weapon with more range as opposed to damage may be the preferred choice. The choice is yours and sometimes you may have to rethink your strategy in order to succeed. There is no one clear set path to victory and I like that.
Graphics & Sound
Visually the Mushroom Kingdom has never looked so bright and colourful and it’s nothing short of what I have always expected in that regard. I must commend Ubisoft here on their attention to detail and capturing the essence of the Nintendo characters and world as we have grown to know it. Everything screams 100% Nintendo quality here and it shows.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is one of the few turn based games that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and one that doesn’t throw you into the deep end immediately. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle eases you in nicely and yet can increase its difficulty rather quickly, however you never feel confused as to how to play. With a host of familiar Nintendo characters and some great turn based combat, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is definitely a must play even for those that traditionally shy away from the turn based strategy games.