Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Preview: Changing Mario’s Game
Greg Johnson / Jul 11th, 2017 No Comments
Nintendo has never been afraid to change up the formula when it comes to Mario games. Over the years, Mario has crossed over from 2D platforming star to 3D open world titles and he even taught us how to type. Still, it was quite the shock to learn about Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
Related: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Announced
In Kingdom Battle, a strange world-merging event forces Mario and his friends to work with Ubisoft’s bizarre Rabbids to save the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario teaming up with characters from Ubisoft’s completely separate universe seems surreal, but gameplay revealed at E3 2017 showed that this game is not just a gimmick.
N + Company
Kingdom Battle has players choose a squad of four from Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi and a group of four Rabbids who wear the garb of their Nintendo counterparts. These characters travel to the Mushroom Kingdom looking to figure out who or what is behind the strange portals that brought the Rabbids to the Mushroom Kingdom.
Battle zones indicated by flag markers appear throughout the map. This is where combat takes place. Combat in these sections is turn based against AI opponents. It works using a grid system, with players choosing where their characters move and when they attack. Players must balance attacking with team management, and must carefully supervise each character on their squad.
Fighting isn’t simply move, attack, repeat; cover and flanking play into battles as well. Characters in cover take less damage, and enemies flanked receive more. Players should keep in mind that anything they are able to do, the enemy can do as well. If a character is left in the open, the enemy AI will more than likely move to surround that character.
Each character is equipped with a melee attack and a ranged arm cannon. Using these in conjunction with special abilities, which can be learned and managed outside of combat, is key. Unique abilities include bubble shields that reduce damage and damage-boosting abilities that can affect any number of the allies within range.
Learning how to effectively manage your characters in combat is especially important in boss battles. Against bosses, players must find ways to stay in cover while still getting in hits on the boss. During an E3 demo, we saw a character move through the enemy, hitting its opponent with a melee attack, then getting into cover and firing a shot off from the defensive position. This tactic quickly demolished standard enemies, but run-and-gun tactics will not work against bosses. To defeat bigger enemies, players will need a large amount of HP and solid long-range skills.
Since Mario + Rabbids is an RPG, it goes without saying that every successful battle yields players experience points, which not only improve characters’ overall stats but can be used to help them gain new abilities and upgrades.
However, since the game is an RPG in the Mario world, there have been concerns about its difficulty. Just who is this game directed at? Well, don’t let the bright colors and fun characters fool you — based on the gameplay shown at E3, strategy is essential in every battle and players will need to figure out ways to defeat each new enemy.
Comedy is All About … Timing
When word leaked that a Mario + Rabbids game would be shown at E3, people didn’t take the game seriously. Based on the footage shown at E3, the game doesn’t take itself too seriously either. Amidst the heavy combat and RPG elements, there is a lot of humor, which can be expected when the Rabbids are involved.
The Rabbids are much more fun to watch as they interact with characters from outside of their own world. During the demo, we saw characters from both Mario’s world and the Rabbids’ universe perplexed by their pseudo-doppelgänger’s personality. Upon their first meeting, Peach Rabbid snootily inspects Princess Peach and walks away with a scoff and sense of indignation, while Princess Peach can only gasp at being treated in such a manner. Expect to see this kind of dynamic throughout the entirety of Mario + Rabbids.
When fighting, characters take on a more serious tone. The Rabbids are still their silly selfs but their Mushroom Kingdom counterparts are determined and ready for battle once they enter the arena. Meanwhile, the game world is vibrant and inviting. Despite its stunning visuals, the gameplay shown off during E3 did not display much diversity. We will have to see if the generic green worlds give way to other iconic lands later in the game’s story.
Rabid for Rabbids
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle seems like a risk for Nintendo. The company’s characters are beloved, and mixing in a new collection of characters from Ubisoft doesn’t seem necessary. However, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto said he wanted something new for Mario. He also said he wanted something great, and it appears that Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle will achieve his vision.
The game impressed at E3 2017 and silenced the critics that sounded off immediately after leaks of the game’s existence appeared online. Due to its strong sense of humor and strategic gameplay, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a pick for Gaming Illustrated’s Best of E3 2017. From what we’ve seen so far, the game perfectly balances Nintendo’s charm and the Rabbids off-brand humor.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is slated to release Aug. 29 for the Nintendo Switch.
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