Nintendo and Ubisoft team up for a fun, challenging take on turn-based strategy.
Nerdy Professor Impressions
If you read the reviews for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, you’ll notice a common theme: surprise. More than one reviewer point out that, on paper, this game just shouldn’t work. Players are used to joyfully controlling Mario as he runs around, collects power-ups, and jumps on enemies; rabbids, on the other hand, are like obnoxious Minions who should be avoided at all costs. However, this unlikely partnership between Ubisoft and Nintendo has managed to merge these two franchises into a unique and fun take on the turn-based strategy game. I’ve played about 10 hours so far – about halfway through by most accounts – and I’ve had a really good time. The opening cut-scene makes clear that this game was created by Nintendo fans and that the Mario franchise has been given the loving treatment it deserves. While the gameplay starts off a little slow for my tastes, it seems to be by design: it eases the player into the mechanics without much threat before opening up. And for me, as a player who virtually never plays turn-based strategy games, that “opening up” has so far involved a challenging-but-fair set of battles, with some light exploration and puzzle-solving thrown in to break up the gameplay. Visually, I think the game looks great, with bright, vibrant colors that pop, especially on the Switch’s screen in handheld mode. And this game is perfect for handheld mode. It is easy to jump in for 20 or 30 minutes to fight a battle and look around, but is also engaging enough for hours-long play sessions. While I still have a while to go in Mario + Rabbids, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve played so far. I only hope that the game manages to keep me engaged for another 10 or so hours. And I definitely hope this is a sign of things to come in terms of Nintendo easing up control on its IP and allowing creative developers to take risks and move its franchises in fun new directions.
(Click on the website names for links to the full reviews.)
Metacritic: 85 (as of 10/4/17)
IGN: 7.7/10 (Good) – “Based on its colorful world, beautiful animation, and source material you might expect Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle to be “My first turn-based tactics game.” But you’re in for a surprise: even for XCOM vets some of its battles are challenging puzzles. Some of its tougher levels do devolve into a trial-and-error slog, but a good mix of enemies, objectives, and character abilities keep things interesting.”
Gamespot: 9/10 (Superb) – “Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle exudes off-beat optimism that never dissolves. It’s a consistent delight, no matter how challenging the road becomes, because Kingdom Battle’s unique turn-based tactics system is in every way a pleasure to engage with. Coupled with the annoyingly infectious allure of Rabbids, and the always delightful, colorful world of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is an implausibly engrossing formula that is positively challenging and endlessly charming.”
USGamer: 4.5/5 – “Mario + Rabbids is not a concept that I expected to get this much love. This is a legitimately great strategy experience, tailored toward the sensibilities of Nintendo and the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch. It’s a charming adventure for Mario, and the Rabbids don’t get in the way, even if they don’t necessarily add much either….If you’re up for the challenge, pick up Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. It’s worth it and I’m glad it exists.”
Game Informer: 8.5/10 – “Kingdom Battle’s entertaining and demanding tactical combat more than makes up for the downtime….The gradual build-up in difficulty only hits a few minor bumps along the way, culminating in a satisfying final showdown and some post-game ultimate challenges that prove just how fun and flexible the combat system is.”
Polygon: 8/10 – “Mario + Rabbids manages to walk a narrow road, offering up a legitimately challenging squad tactics experience without alienating the family-friendly Mario audience. While it doesn’t quite have the full layer of spit and polish of an in-house title, Ubisoft’s game comes damn close to capturing that Nintendo magic.”
Eurogamer: Recommended – “…a game put together with great imagination, wit and prudence that makes its chosen genre easier to get along with while also refreshing it; that is at once simple and sophisticated; that fits clean and clever concepts together until they add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts.”
The Jimquisition: 8.5/10 (Great) – “The weird thing is, 30 hours deep, it really does work….It’s a strong strategy RPG, which somehow manages to make Ubisoft’s infuriating Rabbids not only tolerable, but genuinely endearing.”
Destructoid: 7.5/10 (Good) – “By the time it opens up halfway in and you really start to delve into the skill tree, it begs to be played. But until then both exploration and some battles feel like going through the motions in a “kinda sorta” tutorial way.”
Digital Trends: 4/5 (Great) – “Somehow, though, Mario + Rabbids is far, far more than the sum of its parts. The game pulls together its disparate influences to create a game that feels unique and fresh, not only among the limited library of the Nintendo Switch, but among all strategy games. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is fast, breezy, and fun, yet also tactically challenging.”