Earlier this year at the E3 2017, the world saw the merge of Super Mario and Rabbids. The Nintendo and Ubisoft coming-together reveal, has taken the internet by storm.  It is interesting when two companies work together and collaborate to produce something fun and unique. However, to make two beloved franchises work and make it great is no easy feat. Although there are a few exceptions to that rules like Kingdom Hearts, most of the crazy crossover doesn’t share that fate.

Fortunately Mario X Rabbids is one of the great one.

The story is fairly simple, the cinematic begins in the basement of an inventor who is a big fan of Nintendo who could be named at this time. She invents what looks like a VR headset that can combine two things into one. The Rabbids come in in their washing machine, take the visor and went to the Mushroom Kingdom but not before combining almost everything in the room including our favourite character Mario, Peach and Luigi. Fortunately Beep-O, the game’s robot vacuum-looking guide which is also the inventor faithful companion join in and will take Mario and friends through the Kingdom to stop the Rabbids from causing any more trouble.

On the surface, the gameplay is fairly simple and easy to learn. It basically has all the strategy games constructs of turn-based movement and cover with a variety of enemies, weapons and upgrades. It is more of an X-COM game than any Super Mario or Rabbids game you’ve played before. Once you delve into it, you’ll discover that the game puts emphasis on strategy to work with the combat system.

Players are to choose 3 characters from a total of 8 characters available for now. However, their lineup must consist of Mario and at least one Rabbids character. Each character comes with their own strengths, weaknesses and special moves. There are also traits that are shared by all characters like the reaction shots which are available to all Mario characters and shield which are available to the Rabbids.

 There is a plethora of strategies involved in the battle. You could go all out and attack the enemies directly or you could go for cover behind a wall and shoot them from far. The shooting is less complex than most strategy games though, as there are only three types of percentages that you could achieve -100, 50, and 0.

Each character can move, attack and use one skill per turn. In addition to that, the characters can also bounce off other second characters to perform special abilities or just to extend their movement. At the beginning of the game, the difficulty is fairly easy. I have no problem winning the battle with minimal effort.

However come mid game, I found myself taking up 5 to 10 minutes to find the most strategic attacking point. Don’t worry about losing battles too much though as you’ll die and have to restart simply because you got a bad RNG, made a wrong movement, or just messed up. Maybe that’s the reason they offer the players Easy Mode in the beginning.

Aside from the battle, the games also offers some exploration in between each combat zones. Here, instead of Mario, you’ll control Beep-O who will lead you around in Mushroom Kingdom. Lots of Mario games reference are present here, such as collecting red coins in a limited period of time, puzzles to solve, coins to collect, and hidden treasures to find. What annoyed me the most in the game exploration is that Mario cannot jump while exploring.

On the presentation side of this game, Kingdom Battle is unexpectedly good in terms of its cinematic and gameplay. I almost forgot that I’m playing a game and wanted more when the cinematic comes around. The animations, I dare say are similar to a Pixar movie and that itself is a joy to watch. The game is also stunning when it comes to the visuals of the gameplay.

From beautifully detailed environment to fluid animations and charming, emotive character models, everything in Mario + Rabbids making the game looks top notch. The universe of Mario and Rabbids is a sight to behold thanks to its colorful textures which comes together with gorgeous art style. However I noticed a slight hiccup here and there while exploring in dock mode. The issues doesn’t persist as much and doesn’t really noticeable. 

Mario X Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a pleasant surprise in everything that it tried to do. If you ask me few months ago, I would not have expected this game to leave any kind of mark in any way, shape or form. Mario X Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was easily my biggest surprise of E3. It’s a concept that came out of nowhere and lets Mario and the Rabbids do something they’ve never done before.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch and is now out in stores.

TL; DR

Positives

  • Easy to learn but hard to master combat system.
  • Exploration between battle is fun.
  • Stunning visuals and cinematics.

Negatives

  • Minor stutter on dock mode.

Mario X Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a pleasant surprise in everything that it tried to do. If you ask me few months ago, I would not have expected this game to leave any kind of mark in any way, shape or form. Mario X Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was easily my biggest surprise from E3 2017. It’s a concept that came out of nowhere and lets Mario and the Rabbids do something they’ve never done before.

SCORE : 90 /100


Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch, via review copy courtesy of Ubisoft Singapore.

 

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