Mario+Rabbids continues to keep my attention, even though I have finally made it to a point where not all battles are being completed with a “Perfect” rating. It irks my “completist” soul but the fact that I can come back later and redo encounters is somewhat consoling. That aside, I have also been slowly working through the Cooperative mode. Instead of one player controlling three characters, this mode has two players control a team of four characters (two per player) working together to complete objectives on special Co-op maps.
Stages with the “Defeat All Enemies” objective do not feel much different from single player, aside from there being more enemies on the map at once. Stages with the “Reach the Goal” objective, on the other hand, have a nicer twist. Where in single player this objective requires the player to get one character across the map to a single goal area, the co-op version has two goal areas and requires each player to navigate one of their characters to their player specific goal. To make matters even more interesting, characters are setup in pairs; one from each player. This really forces players to communicate and map out a strategy that they both agree on, instead of each of them running through their “own” side of the map. Another little hint of thoughtful design by the developers.
So far, we have not encountered any other objective types but I am confident there are a few more. A co-op version of the dreadful “Escort” objective might be interesting, or terrifying.
From a playability standpoint, I was immediately concerned that one player would have to make all their moves before the next player could. But that was not the case. At any time, a player can yield control to the other player, allowing any necessary interspersing of attacks, movement and abilities; just like in single player. I would have liked for the “off player” to still have some kind of cursor or pointer on the screen to help out with pointing potential spaces and targets when planning.
Like any turn-based cooperative experience, the mode could potentially just be played by one person with two controllers. But, I really have enjoyed the opportunity to play the game with someone else. Mario+Rabbids’ mechanics and challenge are so enjoyable already, getting to share the experience with others is a great addition! A player versus player option would have potentially been REALLY fun but it is missing from the game. Seems we cannot have it all, can we?
To make matters even sweeter, where some other games have just a handful of stages for this sort of mode, Mario+Rabbids seems to host more than eighteen cooperative stages, each with Easy, Medium and Hard difficulties.
As more characters are unlocked in the single player campaign it can be really frustrating to only be able to pick three at a time for each encounter. In contrast, Co-op mode allows players to try out four character teams, leading to more interesting combinations and possibilities. I have not stumbled unto anything game breaking quite yet but I also have not experimented much. I may be a little bit addicted to Luigi’s amazing mobility and range, and Rabbid Luigi’s life draining antics (together with the maniacal laugh sound effect played whenever the “Vamp” effect is applied).
As for the difficulty, Medium (the highest setting available when first playing a stage) has not proven to be much of a challenge so players looking for trouble will probably want to try Hard mode. Sadly, all missions within a Co-op World have to be completed before Hard mode is accessible for that world. I would have preferred the ability to jump straight to the tougher setting.
Another detail about difficulty is that Co-op stages do not seem to scale well with the player’s power. Playing the introductory Co-op world in Hard Mode with post single player World 2 weapons proved to be extremely easy. Hopefully, this is just a quality of the first world and subsequent Worlds will prove much more challenging in Hard mode.
No rating is given at the end of each mission which encourages players to let each call their own shots and enjoy the mayhem. The mode is just meant to be fun and it gets it right.
As for rewards, there seem to be none for spending time in Co-op. Players do not even get to keep the coins collected throughout the battle. It is a bit disappointing but, frankly, not terrible enough to keep me away from the experience. It has been a long time since I have a game with a cooperative mode fun enough to make me want to play through it. It is good enough that people that do not usually enjoy tactical RPG’s of this sort have tried Co-op with me and left wanting to play again. And, as my Single player adventure continues and the roster keeps growing, the possibilities for Co-op teams continue to expand.
All in all, in a game already brimming with replay value between challenge stages, the bonus area in each world and the extra exploration in order to find all the collectibles, the addition of this robust Cooperative Mode just sweetens the deal even further, allowing players to play the game they are already enjoying in a slightly different way together with others. The fact that there are plenty of special Co-op maps also keeps the experience from just being a rehash of the single player areas with extra enemies. Like I said, some player versus player options would have been really cool but, what was provided is more than other titles have attempted. I would not buy the game just for this feature, but it is definitely worth a try if Mario+Rabbids is already sitting on your Switch.
Nintendo has once again brought back an emphasis on Couch Co-op and it is great to see a third party take such a good stab at it. I am close to being that guy that takes his Switch to random coffee shops and starts harassing strangers with offerings of JoyCon and multiplayer.