It’s a bizarre premise, but this game is way better than it should be.
Love them or hate them, Ubisoft’s eccentric Rabbids are here to stay. More than a decade after debuting in Nintendo Wii hit Rayman Raving Rabbids, the divisive furballs have managed to weave their way into pop culture, and now find themselves crossing over into the Mushroom Kingdom thanks to a time-travelling washing machine and an augmented reality headset. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds, but don’t let that put you off – this game hides some solid mechanics and genuinely challenging gameplay that’ll have you scratching your head to achieve that elusive ‘Perfect’ rating in every battle.
Despite it’s madcap humour and cutesy visuals – which are some of the most gorgeous the Switch has to offer, by the way – Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a turn-based tactical combat game in the same vein of XCOM, meaning it’s not as kid-friendly as Mario’s usual platform escapades. It also means that Nintendo’s iconic mascot and friends wield guns for the first time… ever? Granted, they’re all based off colourful imagery from the Mario series, but it’s still a little unnerving to see Luigi brandishing a sniper rifle or Peach launching a shotgun.
Speaking of characters, you’ll start the game with a team of three – Mario, Rabbid Luigi, and Rabbid Peach – but as you progress you’re given the option to switch out characters for a range of other Mario favourites, including an adorable Rabbid-fied version of dinosaur sidekick Yoshi. We have a feeling one digital diva in particular will be a regular on your team, though – whether she’s taking a selfie on the battlefield or readjusting her tiara after a fall, we’ve all got a little bit of Rabbid Peach in us.
Oh, and she has her own Instagram account. Because of course she does.
The game features four familiar worlds for our band of heroes to explore, each one broken up into smaller sections containing puzzles, secrets and a couple of battles. While exploring the mostly linear maps can become slightly tedious, the battles themselves – which are the core of the game, anyway – are continuously revamped to provide fresh challenges. New enemies with different abilities and strategies are regularly introduced, while Mario staples including Chain Chomps and Boos, who’ll target both you and the enemy, add a welcome mix to the stage. We won’t spoil the boss fights for you, but they’re pretty epic.
If the prospect of skill trees, stat effects, and significant difficulty spikes scares you, this one probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for something slightly more challenging, or simply need a fix of your favourite moustachioed plumber before Super Mario Odyssey drops in October, we’d highly recommend it.
Gay Times gives Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – 4/5
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is available exclusively on Nintendo Switch now.