Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Early Impressions

Here are our initial impressions of Ubisoft’s and Nintendo’s joint take on turn-based strategy.

The Good

  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle uses XCOM’s turn-based strategy gameplay as the base for its own battle system. Fans of the new generation of XCOM games will notice that aspects such as character movement, cover, and even the camera angles are copied straight into the Mushroom Kingdom. The good news is that XCOM’s battle system is fantastic. It’s challenging and allows for many skills and other systems to be built upon it, features that Ubisoft has taken advantage of.
  • While XCOM serves as the skeleton of Mario + Rabbids’ gameplay, Ubisoft has done a great job at adding systems, enemies, and weapons that help make Kingdom Battle feel like its own game. Movement is especially unique in Kingdom Battle. Allies can jump off one another in order to extend their movement range, foes can be dashed into for damage while you move, and many maps incorporate pipes that allow for escape and flanking opportunities. Figuring out how to use these skills as well as upgrading them grant you many options in battle.
  • Despite being developed by Ubisoft, the game feels more like an in-house Nintendo title due to the beautifully bright graphics and overall polish of the game, especially in regards to the user interface, presentation, and game design.
  • There are quite a few weapons in the game and are unlockable via coins earned during battles or while exploring the world. There are different effects for certain guns, such as the ability to push enemies back or stick them in place with honey.

  • There are skill trees for characters as well. So far, each character has some distinct abilities that separate them from each other. One interesting design decision is to allow these skill trees to be re-configured before any battle, as many times as you like. This allows you to shape your party and their abilities to match the enemies you are fighting or the environment that you are fighting in.
  • Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle begins educationally, introducing each gameplay aspect to the player in succession. However, the game quickly ramps up its difficulty and in turn, each decision made in battle carries more weight. My concerns that this game was going to be XCOM but for kids have disappeared.
  • After beating a world in Mario + Rabbids, the world is then populated with 10 rabbids dressed like Toad, each one offering a challenge. These challenges are a nice change of pace from the regular battles because they typically put you in situations that differ from the battles you just went through while beating the world. Even better, they reward you with useful coins and skill orbs.
  • Once you find all ten challenges, it’s easy to teleport to and from specific ones from your home base. It’s an essential convenience that Ubisoft could have easily overlooked.
  • The music is fantastic, whimsical, and rich. Every once in awhile, familiar Mario melodies sneak in and it is awesome.
  • The game is silly and often funny. There are a lot of dialogue, gags, and facial animations that made me chuckle.
  • Rabbid Peach: best character of 2017? I like to think so.

The Bad

  • Mario + Rabbids has small areas to explore in between battles and these areas often have very simple puzzles to solve. The problem is that the reward for solving these puzzles is often extremely underwhelming, either a 3D model or piece of art for your “museum”. Every once in awhile you do get rewarded with a new gun, but it is rare.
  • If you are going to borrow from XCOM, why not borrow the awesome resource management and base building systems? These systems work well in XCOM because they directly affect your weaponry and abilities on the battlefield. In Mario + Rabbids, you have a home base in the form of Peach’s Castle but no ability, so far, to modify or upgrade it.
  • The party screen makes it look like there are eventually eight characters that can be part of your roster. From this, you choose a three person squad. However, Mario has to be in your squad all the time, no matter what. It seems like an unnecessary restriction for such a small pool of squadmates.. At least Mario is a very useful character due to his abilities and weapons.

The Ugly

  • The story is pretty awful as far as plot, story structures, and the characters go. OK, so no one is playing this game for the story and the game’s lack of an interesting plot isn’t a barrier to my enjoyment, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the story is bad.

In short, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle first impressions have left me wanting to play the game more. The game takes the essence of XCOM’s battle system and adds some very worthy additions that help Mario + Rabbids feel like more than just a rip off of a great strategy game. Instead, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle feels like a strong strategy title all on its own.

Daniel Podborochynski

A Canadian who loves video games, soccer, sandwiches, reading, cats, dogs, Aphex Twin, bike rides, Fallout, Daft Punk, barbecue, and beer.

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