E3: Hands-On With Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Ubisoft’s wild bunnies join with the heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom for tactical RPG action!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/23/2017 08:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Most of the people in attendance at E3 weren’t all that surprised to see Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle; after all, its existence had been spilled weeks prior all across the internet. What was surprising, at least for me, was how dang well the crossover is shaping up. I hate the Rabbids. Ubisoft’s Rayman-spinoff franchise is just annoying to me, so I’ve largely avoided the series since its inception and was, needless to say, not enthused when I heard the creatures would be teaming up with Mario and company. Man, what an idiot I was for dismissing the game outright. Mario+Rabbids is shaping up to be quite a potential hit for both Nintendo and Ubisoft.

The setup for the game is pretty straightforward crossover territory: a massive space vortex has broken apart the Mushroom Kingdom and brought with it a host of Rabbids. The crazed bunnies must team up with Mario, Peach, Yoshi, and Luigi to set things right. Neat and tidy, the Rabbids find their way into Mario’s world and the hijinx are free to begin. There are four worlds to guide the characters through, and in a first for Mario, the genre of choice for this particular game is tactical RPG. Considering Mario has successfully navigated everything from sports to racing, it’s surprising that the mustachioed one hasn’t already tackled a tactical RPG, but I digress.

The overarching consensus about Mario+Rabbids is that the game plays a lot like X-COM, and that’s more or less accurate. There are two phases of player control: exploration and battle. In exploration mode, Mario and friends follow behind a saucer-shaped device that directs their movement paths, poking their heads into every nook and cranny of the map. What I got to play was fairly straightforward, but things spiced up when random occurrences and features would pop up, like trails of red coins that must be collected. It’s when the battles began that the game’s personality truly started to shine through. Heroes in the squad assume their positions around the battlefield, where the player must be mindful of cover (which is destructible), hazards, and enemy placement as they move in to take down enemy Rabbids.

Once battle began, I was amazed by how easy to learn everything was. The user interface is snappy and intuitive, making it much easier to navigate menus and determine my next course of action. Mario and friends fire projectiles from arm cannons, something I’m definitely not used to seeing the plumber do. It was very satisfying working out my strategies as I maneuvered around the battlefield to fire shots and bring down baddies. It didn’t take long to acclimate to his new method of attack, but it was shocking to see the enemy Rabbids whaling on my party of characters. The maniacal bunnies were merciless in the beatings they dished out, and it really lent a sense of identity to Mario+Rabbids separate from any other game I’ve ever played with Nintendo’s main mascot.

Mixing the more outlandish and over-the-top elements of the Rabbids series with Mario’s typically sedate charms is proving to be a match made in heaven. Coupled with the excellent production values, including stunning lighting, silky smooth animation, and wonderful character designs, Mario+Rabbids had me won over in the brief amount of time I spent with the demo. Though Super Mario Odyssey is on track to be the definitive Mario experience on Switch, Mario+Rabbids is a reminder that sometimes the plumber’s best games are the ones that Nintendo doesn’t develop by itself. It’s a testament to the creative minds at Ubisoft that this title should so thoroughly trounce expectations, and I’m looking forward to seeing if the entire game can maintain the momentum and delight of what was on offer at E3.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!