Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle has finally arrived and I did not wait much to pick up my copy and start playing it! Having already watched a few reviews and gameplay videos, I was mentally ready for what looked like fun gameplay in an aggressive take on tactical RPG’s. And, the experience so far has not disappointed.
The gameplay is solid. The difficulty and complexity slowly build up at a very good pace. On the early stages it was pretty easy to get a “Perfect” on an encounter (by finishing under a target number of turns with no casualties). But, towards the end of World 1, I definitely noticed the difficulty ramping up. With more enemies and stronger, more dangerous types, I had to start paying extra care and attention to make sure none in the party were knocked out. At the World 1 boss I had a close call where Luigi was very close to zero health and we almost missed the target number of turns for the “Perfect” rating. Even though the pace of taking a turn has slowed due to this increasing difficulty, the general flow of the game mechanics still feels well paced and I do not ever feel like I need more information than what is already provided by the user interface.
The user interface is very responsive and easy to use. Although, I do agree with several reviewers that players should be allowed to zoom out the camera. They might have chosen this direction to keep the controls simple but on several occasions I found myself turning the camera left and right frantically trying to gauge whether or not the space I was hoping to move to had line of sight to a particular enemy. Later I discovered that the tactical camera can be used to check line of sight. Even so, zooming out would allow players to more quickly status the battlefield. And, I know for a fact that it was not a graphical limitation since characters with long range, like Luigi, will zoom out the camera significantly when targeting a far away foe.
One aspect I did not know is how areas are split into smaller “stages”, each with multiple encounters. Each of these areas a number convention similar to classic Mario stages: 1-1, 1-2, 1-3 and so forth. It is a small detail but it somehow alters my perception of the game; making it feel like two or three battles are just a run through a stage instead of a long process; like it would be in other tactical games.
The graphics have also surprised me a little bit. At times there is a noticeable lack of resolution, specially on things rendered at a distance. But, overall, the textured approach and the shading style makes everything feel like you could reach into the screen and touch it. And that is before starting to talk about the character animations and range of “acting” for lack of a better word. Most games of this genre tend to be plagued by repetitive animations that get stale and old very quickly. Mario+Rabbids seems to have payed just as much attention to standard battle animations as they did to cutscene animations. Every action sequence changes just slightly from previous ones between the way characters move, how they approach cover and even how they hide behind said cover. It is a lot of tiny details that, when blended together, really stand out the experience.
Oh, and the Rabbids! I have always been a fan of wacky-silly characters like the Rabbids and Despicable Me Minions. Mario+Rabbids does not disappoint. Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Luigi are very entertaining while somehow never going too “over the top”. They also bring an edgy mischievous spirit that contrasts with Mario’s more stoic vibe. And, somehow, it all works! Nothing that I have seen so far has looked or felt out of place. Beyond the playable characters, there are random Rabbids doing random things all around the explorable world. It has made me look forward to the exploration and transition areas of the game; never knowing what I will stumble upon next.
Now, the standard enemy Rabbids have been a little bit forgettable so far with the exception of the Midbosses and Bosses. If anyone was ever curious what would happen if a Rabbid got blended with a Piranha Plant? Play this game and see it in all its tactical glory!
Like I mentioned, there are exploration sections peppered between the game’s battle encounters. These offer a nice break from battle and an opportunity to find collectibles scattered all over the map. Some of them can be reached just by exploring and solving simple puzzles while others require special abilities gained by finishing a particular World. Between these and challenge stages that also become available once a world is cleared, players have plenty of incentive to revisit old areas. These challenges reward additional skill points which are used to unlock and upgrade player abilities.
Oh yeah, each playable character has their own skill tree with plenty of options to choose from. And to foster stress-free trial and error, players are allowed to reset allocated points as much as they want without any penalty. Yet another nice detail that improves over other titles in the genre.
Look, half the active people on my friend list are playing this game and, currently, there is not much argument about it. If you have a Switch and have not considered Mario+Rabbids, please do. Ubisoft created something very unique. Every facet of this game really shows how much passion the developers had for the project and how well thought out the entire experience is. I cannot wait to continue exploring this game and learning all the new things it still has to offer.