Nintendo loves its rabbits. Now they’ve gone Rabbid!
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a zany turn-based strategy game in which Ubisoft’s Rabbids have invaded and twisted the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario and company team up with their Rabbid doppelgangers to take on other, more sinister Rabbids that are seemingly the villains of the game.
The E3 demo appeared to be near the start of the game, with relatively simple battles and tutorials. The turn-based battles have a bright, clean presentation, with appealing iconography and very little clutter. Grid and movement lines are bright and crisp, with functional and clean command menus. The playable team in the demo consisted of Mario and two Rabbid allies, who had to defeat a few platoons of enemies to make progress. Characters can be played in any order, and you also have the option of moving and then attacking, or attacking and then moving. Characters can perform both a ranged using the blaster and a melee attack by moving “through” the enemy. Some of the attacks available involve clever use of other allied units or the situation at hand. For example, you can use one unit as a springboard to jump over and increase your range / sneak behind an enemy. In the second battle, explosive boxes in the environment and warp pipes introduced more options for the player, and more things to be wary of when planning for the enemy’s turn.
While I didn’t get to see much of it during my limited time with the game, the manic humor of Ubisoft’s little gremlins is a great match for the Mario universe. The denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom seemingly acting as the foil for the Rabbids’ unrelenting antics, and if done well—with a variety of comedic situations leveraging the deeper roster of characters in the Mario kingdom—it could remain amusing through the game’s entirety. (For Nintendo and Ubisoft’s consideration: Waluigi has a streak of manic mayhem. See the opening of Mario Power Tennis.) I’ve been ambivalent about the Rabbids in the past—neither loving nor hating them—and am willing to give the team benefit of the doubt based on the passion for detail I’ve seen thus far.
If you’re looking for a lighthearted strategy RPG of a different flavor, Mario + Rabbids is worth keeping an eye on. It’s certainly a change in tone from the genre’s usual stable of games rooted in Japanese anime.