Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle - Review

Author: Gianluca "Ualone" Loggia
Date: 2021-01-26 14:24:31
Thinking about it today it seems strange, but three months ago about Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle nothing was known. But nothing, really. Then, after the incredible E3 it starred in, it became one of the most interesting games of this period. For many reasons. The presence of Miyamoto on the stage of the Ubisoft conference, the spontaneous emotion of the Creative Director Davide Soliani, the fact of being a game conceived and created by an Italian team (Ubisoft Milan, in collaboration with Ubisoft Paris) and, above all, the excellent impressions reported from practically everyone who has had the opportunity to try it in Los Angeles.

After having deepened the knowledge of the game in recent months, first with a nice chat with the aforementioned Davide Soliani (who, if you have not yet seen, I highly recommend), then with a more substantial field test than that of E3, about which you can read all about here, it's finally time to get your hands on the full game and see how it turned out. A cooler and more relaxed mind, without the enthusiasm of the reveal, without the aura of sympathy that the game has been able to generate (deservedly, anyway), in recent months. These days there has finally been what I think is the only real possible relationship with a video game. The one where you are and the full game. Stop.

And it was nice, because Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, beyond all the previous excitement, turned out to be a great game, as well as one of the best possible choices for Nintendo Switch owners. But let's proceed in order. Ubisoft Milan's title is a turn-based strategy. Or rather: a game of tactical turn-based battles, along the lines of XCOM and other similar games, which unthinkably combines the universe of Mario with that of Ubisoft's Rabbids. The premise is quite crazy and I leave it to you to discover it: the fact is that the Rabbids (the crazy rabbits who do not miss an opportunity to scream BWAAAH) end up in the Mushroom Kingdom and chaos is immediately. To restore order, Mario finds himself collaborating with unlikely and amusing "Rabbidian" versions of some of his most famous friends and himself, on a journey that alternates the aforementioned turn-based battles with tasty moments of exploration seasoned with interesting environmental puzzles. All with a tantalizing sense of progress given by the evolution of the characters and the use of gradually more and more effective weapons.
Let's go into more detail. The player controls three characters selectable at any time from a roster of eight total, which are unlocked as the adventure progresses: Mario (the protagonist, immovable owner), Luigi, Peach, Yoshi and their rabbit counterparts, Rabbid Mario , Rabbid Luigi, Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Yoshi. Each of the eight characters has their own characteristics, propensities and attitudes, linked to the type of weapons used and a skill tree that the player can customize to his liking, spending the power points earned by winning battles or exploring the ravines of the game worlds.

The battles, the real heart of the game, may seem a somewhat simplified version of those seen in other more "serious" games of the genre, but in reality they soon reveal a depth and also a level of challenge that is anything but underestimable. In the player's turn, each of the three characters used has three different types of action available: movement, attack and techniques. The first serves to move on the map within a predefined range (and which can be modified by the acquisition of certain skills or the use of precise techniques), but it is also an opportunity to take advantage of some of the most interesting moves made available from the game, such as Team Jump, Slide Tackle and the ability to cross the most classic “mariosi” pipes to cover greater distances. These moves, in addition to being a great example of how this game is incredibly full of a pure nintendoso spirit, also strongly characterize the gameplay of the battles of Mario + Rabbids: certainly the level design of the maps, generally of good workmanship, is strongly focused on the use of pipes and the game always takes into account the distances that can be covered with a Team Jump and the damage that can be caused, in the movement phase, by a slip (or a Crash Jump, in the case of some characters). In short, just with the movement alone, you arrive at a variety of very interesting situations, with the possibility of ringing very satisfying combos.

The attack phase is more intuitive. Each character has a primary weapon and a secondary weapon at their disposal. The primary can be used once per turn, while the secondary comes with a few cooldown turns. You choose the weapon to be used between the two, you select one of the reachable targets among the enemies present and you fire. The damage produced is a die roll in a range determined by the power of the weapon (as mentioned, you can buy more powerful ones as you progress through the game) and any modifiers given by the scenario (if you shoot from above downwards, exploiting the verticality of the maps, more damage is done) or by particular techniques.

The techniques, already. They are the "special moves" that represent another of the three actions that each character can perform within a turn. Each hero has two available (provided you have unlocked them in the appropriate skill tree), generally a defense or attack and one that affects with a buff or a debuff in the area surrounding the character. As with the skills or the types of weapons supplied, the techniques also change a lot from character to character and greatly characterize the heroes of Mario + Rabbids in terms of gameplay. Mario's Hero's Sight or Luigi's equivalent Eagle's Gaze allows for one or more additional attacks, while Rabbid Peach's Heal lets nearby heroes regain life. Just to make you understand what differences there can be between the techniques of different characters.