If fun and challenging is what you’re up for then step right up because Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is no ordinary game. The Switch has made a name for itself after launch, but what it really needs now are games (Ed: *spits out coffee*). After playing Kingdom Battle, I’m certain the console will be in good shape – it’s fun, addictive and a very creative spin on the XCOM style games.
I can’t recall much about the story, though I’m sure that’s only because not much was mentioned in the demo. I played a few levels with each including a jump in the difficulty. You start off with Mario, Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Luigi. The three of you must fight other Rabbids to proceed through the world map. As you walk around the map, you’ll see enemies on the horizon, get close enough and you’ll start a battle. If you’re familiar with XCOM, the controls and mechanics are pretty much the same, just a little bit simpler. For those who aren’t, it’s a turn-based strategy game where you need to move your units from cover to cover while trying to flank and attack your enemy.
Since this a Mario game, many Super Mario themed puzzles and object designs are used. Take warp pipes for example, you can use them to quickly traverse a battleground. Your enemy can use it too, but if used well, you can do some serious flank damage. I didn’t get to see much in terms of roles, but from what I could gather, Mario is closer to a commander, whereas Peach is a medic and Luigi a buff/ support character. What makes the game stand out is the humour and use of Rabbids as enemies. The enemy designs are quite cute, but still threatening. Rabbids are also not the only enemies on the battleground, I also had to contend with a Chomper. There’s a nice sense of balance between Mario and Rabbids which is unusual for cross-over titles.
My main concern is playable character selection. You’ll unlock more characters as the game progresses, but by how much, I don’t know. Then again, since Permadeath isn’t really a thing in this game, you might not even need that many. I don’t have a lot of negative criticism for the game, but I would like to see a little restraint with some of the humour. While I know this isn’t really a kiddie game, Mario is synonymous with being family friendly. One particular joke in the game made me slightly uncomfortable, not for myself, but for any child playing it. About half-way through the demo, you come across a Rabbid who is sitting on a Rubber Duckie who is wearing what looks like a bondage necklace. It’s a leather belt strap with spikes on it. There’s something very S&M about that particular joke, that just made me wonder why it was put in there in the first place.
Minor quibbles aside, Mario Rabbids Battle Kingdom looks like a colourful and entertaining new game for the Nintendo Switch. I can see many people playing this game day one, and if I can get that console, I’ll certainly be one of them.