In theory, this game should suck. I have no clue how this idea of mixing Mario with those stupid and hateful Rabbids in an XCOM-meets-MegaMan-guns type of game was approved, but thank you very much, whoever came up with the elevator pitch and whoever greenlit this lovely mess. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is the best dumb idea in gaming history, and, as of now, the best Nintendo Switch exclusive you can get.
Those plastic-like visuals are great
Mario + Rabbids is a turn-based tactics game just like XCOM, but don’t you worry, as it’s actually a much easier game to learn how to play. The tutorials are pretty decent and teach you how to use the various mechanics in no time. Even though the game is an “easier XCOM“, it doesn’t mean its gameplay is dumbed down or too simplistic. You can perform various complex strategies, such as performing a slide attack at an opponent followed by finding cover and shooting another opponent hiding behind an explosive block, with ease. If you’re having trouble with a particular boss, you can always trigger an easy mode for that battle alone, by the way. This might be the most “democratic” tactics game ever created, catering to both newcomers and veterans alike.
Despite being, at its core, a tactics game, the game also features a bit of exploration, akin to an RPG of sorts. You can gradually earn new abilities in order to solve some simple puzzles and reach treasure chests and coins. The game features a lot of collectibles (it’s a Ubisoft game, remember that), a lot of those only available to acquire after you’ve beaten the levels they’re located at. You can replay any level of the game as many times as you want, either to get more coins or to solve previously unbeatable puzzles. Whenever you’re tired of being a master cartoon tactician, you can always sit back and relax with a bit of carefree exploration.
Top notch humor
One thing you’re probably asking to yourself is: are the Rabbids a nuisance in this game? Don’t you worry, my dear reader, Ubisoft has somehow managed to make those annoying little creatures simply hilarious. The highlight of all this madness is, without a doubt, Rabbid Peach. Instead of just emulating Peach’s royal but admittedly bland and uninteresting personality, this Rabbid goes full Valley Girl, being vain, arrogant and taking selfies every 5 seconds. The game’s humor is one of its highlights, as it’s full of meta references and actually clever jokes. This is the funniest Mario game ever since that one Paper Mario for the Gamecube.
From a technical standpoint, this game is great. This is one of the first games to actually take advantage of the Switch’s power, delivering great visuals that ooze a plastic-esque vibe. Some might complain about this aspect, but I’d rather see the cartoonish world of Mario look like a toy set than having an ultra realistic plumber with ten thousand polygons per moustache hair. The use of colors and lighting is great, with the only complaint being some framerate drops, especially when playing on portable mode. Given the game’s friendly approach towards short sessions, this was the mode I was playing the most, and as such framerate issues appeared every now and then.
That’s called method acting, bruh
The best aspect in Mario + Rabbids, however, was its soundtrack. Two words for you: Grant Kirkhope. The man behind the glorious Banjo-Kazooie, Goldeneye, Donkey Kong 64, Perfect Dark and Yooka-Laylee has once again knocked it out of the park with a fantastic soundtrack that masterfully mixes classic Mario tunes, such as Mario 64‘s Peach’s Castle theme, with his signature vibe. This is the best Mario soundtrack in years, with songs you’ll most likely cherish for years to come. I really hope they hire Grant for more projects, he never fails to deliver great material.
Rabbid Peach is the best diva ever
I fully recommend Mario + Rabbids if you own a Switch. Never thought I’d actually say that, but this is one of the most original and funny Mario games in years, a very decent beginner-friendly entry into the tactics genre. This game is proof that, sometimes, being completely crazy pays off.
By the way: Nintendo, please, Rabbid Peach for Smash.