Chocolate and chicken, pineapple on pizza, and Mario and Rabbids are all two things that should never be together . . . until now. Since the announcement, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has always felt like a bad idea that could not have a good ending, yet, through excellent design, some funny moments, and a stellar soundtrack, this light Strategy game is an incredible romp that is best played in short bursts.
The Rabbids have invaded the Mushroom Kingdom and a device has fallen onto the wrong face. The power of this device allows two separate things to come together which has led to Rabbid versions of Mario, Luigi, Peach and more. However, other than these versions of the Nintendo heroes, every other Rabbid against you and makes up the vast majority of opposition in this game.
Structurally, the game is made up of turn-based combat and some exploration and puzzle solving. While the game is turn-based combat most of the time, there is a surprising amount exploration and puzzles to complete which means every few encounters will be broken up by some walking around which is a surprisingly fun activity. The world created here is stunning to look at and having the opportunity to explore it with Grant Kirkhope’s stunning soundtrack adds a whimsical and stellar feel to it all.
In the beginning, the game feels rather simplistic in nature with a 0%, 50%, or 100% chance of hitting the enemy for each turn. While that statistical simplicity remains, the strategies and added mechanics add many more layers to make it truly enthralling as you continue. The game really ramps up the difficulty and even offers an “easy” mode for each encounter because sometimes you can be wiped out in just a couple of turns if you don’t fully understand the new layer that’s been added to to gameplay.
If you’ve played XCOM then you know exactly what the expect, at least at a base level. Each character can move an attack in whichever order they choose. Even movement however is enhanced by the fact that you can bounce off your team mates for added distance or charge into an enemy to inflict some damage before taking cover and attacking.
At the start, most characters only have one attack with no added effects and will have a single passive. As you continue through the game, you will have the opportunity to buy new weapons as well as add a second one to your arsenal for each player.
Characters also fall into classes with the Peaches taking the healer route whereas Luigi takes the role of a sniper. Eventually, you will have a team of 8 characters with only three being possible for your active party. Players can be changed after each encounter though which is critical to remember as the game goes on as the punishing difficulty paired with the fact that you don’t fully recover health after ever battle meaning some characters may need to be swapped and a whole different team may be required based on the upcoming encounter.
It’s a much deeper, richer, and rewarding game than I was expecting. If there is one major down point, it is the skill system. As you progress, you earn spirit orbs which can be used to add new passives to your character as well as boost stats. Unfortunately though, it feels very tacked-on and doesn’t really add any major changes to how you will play. Very quickly I stopped caring and started to auto-upgrade.
There is an incredible amount of content to be had here. After completing each world, you can return and take on the battles again in challenge mode which changes things up and makes them even more difficult. There’s a 2-player local co-op mode too which is a ton of fun to play with someone else.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle sounds like it should not work on paper. In execution however, it is easily one of the best turn-based strategy games I’ve played in a long time. Pair that with the incredible soundtrack and Kingdom Battle is just an absolute joy to behold. A must buy for Switch owners.