Bottom line: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is as weird and wacky as they come, and while it difficulty spikes might cause some frustration, the unlikely pairing of Mario and Rabbids is one of the best games on the Switch.
Surprisingly deep strategic gameplay
Rabbids are actually pretty cute
Memorable boss encounters
Excellent DLC adventure
Local multiplayer only
Must have Mario in your party at all times
Roster is sort of limited
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It's hard not to be charmed by Mario + Rabbids. From the game's heartfelt reveal at E3 2017 that brought Creative Director Davide Soliani to tears, to the off the wall shenanigans of the Rabbids, Mario sharing the screen with the Raving Rabbids is the most chocolate and peanut butter pairing in gaming history. Wrap that in a challenging tactical strategy game, and you've got something completely original, and a showcase for both Nintendo and Ubisoft's creativity when they're aiming for the rafters.
With the stage set, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle released to critical and commercial acclaim, crafting an easy-to-understand turn-based tactics game that shares its DNA with XCOM, but comes complete with its own unique quirks. The Minion-like Rabbids, wonderfully animated and adorable, steal the show with their Looney Toons antics. It's also great fun, as long as you don't mind occasional difficulty spikes.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: What's good
The reason why these two random flavors come together doesn't matter too much. All you really need to know is that the SupaMerge, created by a young girl we never see, has the ability to merge any two things. Of course, the Rabbids show up in a dimension-hopping washing machine, quickly get a hold of the technology, and find themselves running amok in the Mushroom Kingdom. A sentient robot Roomba named Beep-0 seeks out the mustached plumber for help, and so begins their journey. You know, the usual.
|Title||Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle|
|Game Size||2.9 GB|
|Play Time||30 hours, including DLC|
|Players||Single and multiplayer|
|Format||Game Card and Download|
The purposely obnoxious Rabbids, originally associated with the Rayman franchise, might be annoying to some, but their cartoony hijinks play well off the relatively straight-faced Mario crew. The cutscenes, in particular, are brilliantly animated; in fact, it's one of the game's strongest elements. While a few gags fall flat, most of the slapstick comedy is fun and is sure to entertain younger audiences.
The presentation all around is really great. The game runs on a modified Snowdrop engine (the same engine that powered Ubisoft's Division games) so it runs smoothly, both in docked and handheld mode, though you may notice occasional glitches and some hitching. As one of the earliest titles in the Nintendo Switch's library, it does what it can with the limited hardware, and its colorful palette helps hide any major graphical blemishes. The music, on the other hand, pulls no punches. Composed by Grant Kirkhope of Rareware fame, the music of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is fantastic from start to finish.
Never seen Mario like this
As far as gameplay goes, you would be forgiven if you thought that Mario + Rabbids was going to be easy. It's actually surprisingly challenging. You command a team of three characters as you duck for cover and do battle with enemy Rabbids, using some of the many weapons at your disposal, including different sniper rockets, shotguns, and sentries. You can also move around the battlefield, physically attack enemies, bounce off of allies, and use special powers to heal your party, inflict status ailments, or lure enemies out of cover. It never gets old watching Luigi dip out of cover to pop a slow-motion bullet into a Rabbid's side.
Special mention should be made to the excellent enemy variation and boss encounters. From a giant Rabbid Kong to familiar foes like Bowser Jr., each encounter was memorable and, occassionaly, pretty difficult. Some encounters took a couple of tries, and since there aren't any difficulty levels, you'll really have to experiment to find the best routes and best team ups to make it through the game's four worlds. And if you're looking for even more, there are some hellish challenges that can be unlocked.
In between fights, you explore the Mushroom Kingdom as you normally would in other Mario games, collecting coins and solving puzzles for new weapons and other treasures. In the Battle HQ, you can spend coins earned on new weapons and level up your characters in typical RPG fashion. It's just deep enough to give you a reason to replay missions so that you can max out your party's abilities.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong's turn
A brand new Donkey Kong chapter was added to the game just a few months after release, and it's definitely good enough to warrant its own section. Taking place shortly after the completion of the first world, Beep-0 and Rabbid Peach find themselves transported to Donkey Kong's neck of the woods. Here, they team up with the great ape, as well as Rabbid Cranky, to topple a super-powered Rabbid Kong.
The DLC pack is quite lengthy, clocking in at about 7-8 hours. However, the addition of Donkey Kong adds a real powerhouse to your arsenal. He can literally chuck enemies (and the cover they're hiding behind), and swing between areas on dandelion vines. His boomerang banana even enables him to hit up to three enemies at one time. Despite Donkey Kong being strong compared to other characters, the levels in this Donkey Kong DLC are just as challenging and animated as the normal adventure. I only wish there was more crossover with the main game, as they're separated from one another and only share Rabbid Peach.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: A wolf in sheep's clothing
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle reshapes the Mushroom Kingdom in interesting ways, but as far as your party is concerned, you're fairly limited. You always have Mario on your team and at least one Rabbid, but I wish there was a little more freedom in that regard, and that there was more of a Mario roster to choose from. Playing as Donkey Kong was a treat because he was so different than the other four core party members, and I wish that the developers played more to character's differences instead of just giving them different weapons.
The multiplayer campaign can be fun, but it's limited to local co-op only. Players take control of two characters and run through multiplayer exclusive maps. It's not too bad, but it does feel like an afterthought that I hope they expand on in the upcoming sequel. They can even integrate it into the main campaign.
While the strategy game's campaign is quite lengthy at around 20 hours, it does become quite difficult at times, making the game feel even longer. While there's no permadeath or any real stakes to losing, the difficulty spike can sometimes feel unfair and uneven. Fans of strategy games might welcome the challenge, but newcomers might end up burned, especially those who might pick this game up expecting a breezy romp like other Mario or Rabbid games.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Should you play it?
If you're a fan of strategy games and your primary console is a Switch, look no further than Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. It's an unexpected collaboration crafted with love that has no business being as good as it is. Throw in the Donkey Kong Adventure, and you have a sizeable and satisfying strategy game. If you're interested in its sequel, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, now's the perfect time to jump into one of the best strategy games on the platform.
Mario meeting the Rabbids in a strategy game might be the combination no one asked for, but it works on almost every level. The colorful visuals, surprisingly deep gameplay, and a lengthy campaign, plus an excellent DLC expansion, make this game an easy recommendation. It's one of the best games on the Switch.
Zackery Cuevas is a writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. He likes playing video games, talking about video games, writing about video games, and most importantly, complaining about video games. If you're cool, you can follow me on Twitter @Zackzackzackery.