I’ll admit it: I was a skeptic when it came to Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and rumours flying fast and furious over the past few months. I didn’t believe the game was in development, for starters, and I was against the combination of properties even if it was. Now that it’s all out in the open, I’m happy to say I was wrong. Kingdom Battle is loads of fun; I’m now cautiously optimistic about the project.
The Mushroom Kingdom and the world of the Rabbids mesh together surprisingly well. Mario‘s half provides a kind of structure and normalcy that is much needed compared to the chaotic Rabbids. There’s a real sense of hilarity that comes from the outrageous, long-eared creatures — but on its own, that silliness becomes tiresome rather quickly. Combining the two franchises lets us see an ever-so-slightly more serious side of the Rabbids alongside an extremely fun and playful Mario cast.
The result is absolutely beautiful. The game’s hands-on demo was purely in docked mode, lush and beautiful on the big screen. The bright, bold colours of Mario are already in the same vein as Rabbids, so they match up really well. I was told that handheld mode has zero touchscreen functionality, but that I “will always need the Joy-Con,” which is a little surprising. I can see a tactical, grid-based game being plenty of fun a touchscreen. I know I’m not the only one out there who can’t put down Fire Emblem: Heroes, right?
When the characters walk throughout the flags that signal a battle, things really start to change. This is a tactical RPG that feels different to any I’ve played before. The sheer amount of movements you can execute in a single turn is really impressive, allowing for fun combos and strategies. I feel like there is a good chance the battle system will be very deep and offer a lot for player willing to delve right into it. At the same time, it’s quite simple, allowing a younger audience a chance.
There is plenty to do in the world outside of fighting. Even in the small area presented in the demo, there are lots of places to explore — and more importantly, puzzles to solve. Some of these are actual mini-games, repeatable if you fail on a first attempt. They’re worth re-doing as well, offering up cool rewards like access to new weapons. There are also puzzles built into the world like moving bridges and mazes. If you navigate these puzzles with some degree of success you’re likely to come out with a lot more coins. This is more important than in most Mario games as there are a lot of RPG elements; currency helps to make your party stronger.
When you find weapons and power-ups, they will not become immediately available to you. You will, however, have the opportunity to buy them with your reserve of coins. Ultimately, it feels a bit stingy. After completing my first timed puzzle and opening a chest with a crazy-looking gun, I was disappointed I actually needed to then buy it. I guess the benefit of this system in the full game means there are more puzzles and things to unlock; the coins will contain progression while not holding back on the amount of content available. We will just have to wait and see.
I’m glad I gave Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle a proper go. With a strong showing from what little we’ve seen to date, the idea of playing this in portable mode sells the idea even more. I can see myself playing this one everywhere I go, though I still want a proper explanation of full systems and how they integrate with one another ahead of release.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle heads to Nintendo Switch on 29 August.
Stevivor was flown to E3 2017 as a guest of Ubisoft to cover the entire event. This relationship does not prevent Stevivor from covering other publishers’ titles, nor does it impact the E3 2017 opinions of any of our authors.