Game Review: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Nintendo Switch)

Posted March 12, 2022 by Angie in Video Game Reviews / 0 Comments

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About:

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ (Comic Mischief, Mild Language, Cartoon Violence)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: August 28, 2017
Single Player, 2-Player Co-Op
Nintendo || Amazon

Story

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is simply put: chaos. And I mean that in the best possible way. It all starts when the Rabbids are messing around where they shouldn’t. One of them winds up with a new invention that can merge things together, creating Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Luigi, my new favorite video game characters. It also causes their traveling washing machine to malfunction, sending them to the Mushroom Kingdom, where the device continues to wreak havoc. Enter Mario, professional hero! He teams up with Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Luigi, led by newcomer Beep-0, to track down the source of the chaos and restore the Mushroom Kingdom to its peaceful state.

Visuals

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a visual treat. While it’s not my favorite game in terms of visuals, I was in love with the worlds and character designs. The colors are extremely vibrant, even in the darker worlds. Everything is sharp and crisp, if a little lacking in details. The textures, or lack thereof, are very smooth and almost plastic-like.


Mario and his companions look how you’d expect them to look in a 3D game. And their Rabbid counterparts were simply adorable. The bosses are similarly distinct and interesting to look at. You see all kinds of familiar faces but in totally unfamiliar circumstances, some of them quite humorous. The Rabbids truly are running amuck and making things uncomfortable for everyone!

There are four worlds to explore, five if you count the main hub surrounding Peach’s castle. Each one stands out from the rest in terms of color palette, theming, layout, and decor. My favorite was easily Spooky Trails, since it looks like the cutesy Halloween world of my dreams, but also very clearly Mario-inspired with Boos scattered throughout the landscape.

There are limited camera angles, which is fine for this game style. But at times it was a bit annoying if I wanted to take a better look at some of the surroundings. The camera only spins around in the same plane as the characters, so no adjusting it up or down. It’s also locked in some areas, particularly on bridges, which are where some of the more unusual scenery elements are. There are some “lookout” spots that you can zoom into though. During battle the lack of angles isn’t a major issue, except on larger fields where it’s hard to see outside of the limited range. You can kind of get around this by using the movement feature out of bounds just to see more of the field.

The only glitch that I experienced was a graphical one. In Spooky Trails there’s a building that flashes in and out of existence where a building shouldn’t be. There’s an open area with a treasure chest surrounded by buildings, then this random flashing one, which did stop once I collected the chest.

Sound Effects + Music

The music in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is pleasant enough. There’s familiar tunes and unique tracks as well for each world. I did find myself tuning it out at times though. But then…oh, but then…there is a random musical number! It was so unexpected and hilarious and catchy. I won’t spoil when or where it happens, but you are in for a treat!


The rest of the sound effects are varied and fun. As you’d expect there’s plenty of sounds for the weapons and attacks. I couldn’t get enough of Rabbid Luigi’s vampire dash! His laugh is hilarious and slightly sinister. There’s some minor voice acting, which will be familiar if you’ve played any Mario game. While the characters don’t speak, they do have their catch phrases they call out during battle. The Rabbids all sound the same, but I guess it makes sense since they also all look the same.

Gameplay + Controls

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a turn-based tactical game, and it was my introduction to the genre. Essentially, you take turns with the enemies making moves around the battlefield and choosing your attacks. It seems simple at first, and maybe like it’d get boring after a while, but it surprised me. While you are making the same decisions in every battle, each battle is not the same. You have to take note of your enemies, and figure out if it’s best to move in and attack, or drop back and defend.

The goal of the battles don’t vary too much. For the most part you’ll have “Defeat them all” as the main objective. Other times you just need to take down a certain number of enemies or defeat a boss. There’s also battles where you simple need one team member to make it to the designated safe zone. These were actually my favorite, especially when having to escort a defenseless Toad or Toadette.


The controls are very simple. There’s no real platforming in this game. You do have to navigate the world map, but the trails are clearly marked, so you mainly just need to use the joystick to move in whatever direction. Occasionally, you’ll need to interact with objects to solve puzzles in order to unlock an area or pick up a collectible. In battle, you just use the menu to select if you want to move around the field, attack, or use a special power. The learning curve is quite small, so it’s a great starter game for newbies like me.

Outside of the battles, there are puzzles and collectibles like I just mentioned. You can’t do all of them the first time you come across them. You learn new skills as the game progresses, so you’ll have to backtrack in order to complete everything. The collectibles are completely optional, but I’d suggest keeping an eye out for treasure chests anyways, since many of them do contain weapon upgrades or power orbs you’ll need to upgrade your heroes’ skills.

The puzzles mainly consist of moving blocks or other objects around in order to unlock the next stage, bonus stage, or secret area (often with a collectible). They’re mostly straight forward and you can easily guess what you need to do from environmental clues. Some are harder than they look though, which keeps the game interesting. Of course, toward the end of the game, the puzzles take a bit more thinking, often requiring you to go back and forth to move things around.

Once clearing a stage (winning all battles), you’ll also unlock bonus challenges. These are optional battles that will test your skills and award you with upgrades or coins. They have similar goals to the main battles, but often have a limit on how many moves you can make, or require a certain hero in order to succeed. There’s no penalty for not completing these challenge, and you can try them as many times as it takes to come out victorious.

As with most Mario games, you’ll be collecting coins. They can be found around the world, in between battle fields. You are also awarded with coins after winning a battle, and you’ll have a chance at some spare coins when defeating individual enemies as well (Golden Shots, as they’re called). Coins are used to buy new weapons for each of your heroes. You find new weapons in treasure chests, and you never know who the new weapon is for. It’s worth it to keep an eye on all of the heroes’ weapon options, because that may determine who’s on your active team.

Similarly, power orbs are given as battle rewards and can also be found in special treasure chests. These are used to add new skills or improve existing ones within each hero’s skill tree. The skill tree can be reset at any time so that the power orbs can be redistributed as needed. Power orbs are added to each hero’s bank, whether they’re currently on the team or not. You should definitely keep everyone’s skills up-to-date even if you’re not using them. They just might get upgraded enough to make them an asset later.

Team members can also be swapped at anytime before a battle begins. For the most part, I stuck with the same team throughout most of the game. Only changing members when a bonus challenge required a certain skill set. You will have favorites and that’s okay! Every hero has their strengths and drawbacks, so no one is inherently better than anyone else. It’s just who fits the battle at hand, or who suits your strategy best. I just didn’t get to play with Yoshi or Rabbid Yoshi during the main story, since they’re added fairly late. I can always use them during the challenges though.

Replayability

As previously mentioned, not all areas are accessible the first time through a world. This inherently adds some replay value. If you want to complete 100% of the game, you’ll have to return to the previous worlds (possibly multiple times). There’s also the option to replay battles you’ve already completed if you want to get a better score and thus more rewards.

As far as a complete second (or third) playthrough, I’m less sold on that. While I did enjoy the game and went back to do many of the optional challenges, I don’t think I’d start over and do it all again. Some of the battles are quite long and drawn out, and the game doesn’t have too much variety in gameplay. Getting 100% on my first playthrough is likely enough to satisfy me with this game as there are a ton of collectibles and bonus battles of varying difficulty. But who knows, maybe I’ll get the urge to revisit these characters in the future, because they are the main draw.

There are a couple of DLC packs for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, or one Season Pass download containing both, to keep the game going. One is Donkey Kong themed and essentially doubles the length of the base game. The second pack is more bonus challenges of higher difficulty. I will definitely be getting these to keep playing! And, of course, there is also a sequel coming out soon…

Overall

I am so glad that I took a chance on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. This game had me smiling the entire time, even in the middle of battle. There were also parts that literally made me LOL. The Rabbids were such a joy to get to know and were an excellent complement to Mario and Co. Even though the game mechanics are very repetitive, I never felt bored or like I was doing the same thing over and over (even though I was). I had to think about each move and make compromises in order to get my heroes to their goal. Anyone wanting to give a turn-based strategy game a try should absolutely pick up Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

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