Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Switch)

If you'd have told me 10 years ago that Mario, Nintendo's mascot, and The Rabbids, those obnoxious critters that double as Ubisoft's answer to Universal's Minions, would star in an RPG for a Nintendo console, I'd have thought you crazy. I'd have thought you crazier if you told me it'd be good. After all, The Rabbids were annoying memes that'd turned the Rayman franchise into a shovelware party franchise for the Wii. As much as I loved the Wii, seeing those migraines as anything but a mindless distraction was impossible. Yet here I am, having finally beaten Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle for the Switch. And not only is it good, but it's one of the finest RPGs I've played in years!

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle begins in a lab, where a teenaged prodigy's battle accessory, Beep-Bo, notices that Rabbids have invaded her basement. One of the Rabbids steals a pair of goggles, messes with the space-time continuum and transports Beep-Bo and the other Rabbids to The Mushroom Kingdom circa 1986. Having recently witnessed the first defeat of Bowser, Mario and company are busy erecting a monument of Princess Peach. The monument, however, is destroyed by the Rabbids, who begin altering The Mushroom Kingdom. Desperate to bring peace, Mario, accompanied by two cosplaying Rabbids, and Beep-Bo head on an adventure to stop them.

As you can tell, the story of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle isn't its focus. Nintendo, for all their brilliance and innovation, haven't really mastered the art of the narrative. Nor do they particularly care to, so it never feels like a missed opportunity. Mario games have always been about gameplay over story, after all.

Speaking of which, the game, while not terribly-difficult, isn't a cakewalk. Perhaps I'm a bad gamer, having struggled at some point with every video game I've played, but there were a handful of battles and puzzles that gave me a mental workout. A few even required me to resort to an online guide, and even then, as with the final boss, I had to struggle. Regardless, the learning curve isn't too steep, meaning I never once gave up or felt I was being conned during the time spent completing the campaign. In many ways, that's a step in the right direction considering the sub-genre this game is part of, the Tactical/Turn-Based RPG, is notorious for being insanely-hard.

The game also has some overworld exploration. Though minimal and fairly-linear, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle's 4 main worlds, as well as Princess Peach's garden, contain intricate nooks and crannies with special chests that have collectibles. These collectibles include weapon upgrades, battle trophies and even skill points, the latter of which can upgrade your party members' techniques over time. The linearity might be a turn-off to some, but I guess simplicity is key.

The in-game battles also routinely shake-up directives to keep combat fresh and exciting. Sometimes, the objective is to clear the battle board of all enemies. Sometimes, it's only a specific number of enemies. Sometimes, it's really only one or two. Sometimes, the objective is to make it to the end-goal, either via an escort mission or a simple free-for-all. The individual battles also contain bonuses for completing them in the least number of turns possible/with all of your party members still active, increasing your stats and accruing funds for upgrades. But if that's too scary for you, the battles also have an Easy Mode that gives your party members 50% more HP.

I have two complaints about this game, perhaps even three. The first is that it's strict about which three party members you're allowed to use, or which ones you're allowed to use at a given time. Mario can never be unselected, and there must always be at least one Rabbid active. This is frustrating because the Mushroom Kingdom players, Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Yoshi, have a special move that lets them attack (sometimes more than once) when it's not their turn, while the Rabbids have unique gimmicks that make them an asset in combat. The mixing-and-matching makes for interesting strategies, but the inability to fully-choose is a setback.

And second, the in-game camera is tight to maneuver, and in some places it's even static. This has cost me some bad moves from-time-to-time. It's also allowed me to encounter the odd glitch. Fortunately, it's not a deal-breaker, but rather a minor nuisance on-par with the Switch's battery life. Yet it's something to be aware of.

That all having been said, this game's a lot of fun. It's a little on the short side-including the secret areas, there are only 40 levels in total-so an experienced gamer can beat it in 12-15 hours, but to those willing to overcome their skepticism, this is a worthy entry in your Switch library. Also, the final boss is a welcomed challenge. That alone will require a good chunk of skill and strategy.

Would I recommend Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle? Absolutely! It's not perfect, the aforementioned issues hold it back, but it's close-enough to give plenty of praise. If you like Mario games, yet have been dying to see him in a Tactical RPG, this game's for you. If you like RPGs in general, this game's for you. If you like both, this game's also for you. But if you simply like good games, and are open to something bizarre and unexpected, perhaps this game's for you too. I know I had a blast with it, pardon the pun!


Popular Posts