The first Super Mario Bros. came out in 1985 and it was major part of my childhood, but I had to wait till the summer ’91, when my parents got me my first Nintendo console the “Famicom”.
There she is (as shown above) in all her splendour and glory, the two pack-in games I got were the Super Mario Bros. & Duck Hunt. Now my mom would like you to believe that I got my glasses because I was like 2 feet away from the T.V, while playing those games for hours at a time. I, on the other hand look to the facts that, both my parents have horrible eyesight and wear glasses. So, biologically I did not stand a chance.
Cut to 30 years later and I am now using the latest Nintendo console, my recently purchased “Switch” which thanks to its ultra portability is now just a few inches from my face. And to make matters worse there are now rumors that an updated newer version of the switch is expected to be out by the end of this year. 🤦♂️
Anyhow, For now it’s happy gaming time with my very own Player Two.
But what does all this have to do with “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle” you ask? Fair point but hear me out, since the 80’s it’s a fact that Mario could shoot fireballs, and as more games came out so did his superpower arsenal grow. He could spin his racoon tail, shoot ice, throw hammers, use a flying cape, CAT suit (yes even Mario in a cat suit) and the list goes on and on.
Traditionally Nintendo are extremely protective of the IP’s (Intellectual Properties such as Mario, Zelda etc.) but in walks, a company like Ubisoft who’s claim to fame are gaming series such as Assassin Creed, Rayman, Rabbids, Prince of Persia, Watch Dogs, Far Cry & Tom Clancy to name a few. And these guys somehow convinced Nintendo to not only let them use their most beloved IP i.e., Mario but also got them to sign off on a game idea wherein he wields a “GUN”. Well to be completely honest they never mention the word gun in the game, but it is a type of weapon that shoots laser beams or sticky shots made of honey or ink etc. in order to deal with the bad guys, who in this case are the rambunctious rabbids that have taken over the Mushroom Kingdom.
The ESRB rating for the game in the U.S was given a 10+ while the PEGI rating for the game in the E.U was 7 which means depending on which region of the world you lived in and bought the game, they were suitable for anyone above 10 years and for anyone above 7 years old respectively. Also, fun fact the switch is not region locked meaning you can play games from other regions as well.
Now, I would like to believe that I am a grown ass-man (the Mrs. would whole heartedly disagree) whose had his share of playing games that deal with violence but now I have a mini-me around. So came the moral dilemma off, should I buy this game?, should she play it?. I mean its cartoon violence and its Nintendo, they are not going to sign off on any sort of blood or gratuitous amount of violence, I mean just look at the trailer for the game. Also, she is about to be 7 anyway so I think we are fine.
Moreover, the prospect of playing a Mario game that plays like an XCOM game mixed with RPG elements was too good to pass up.
The premise of the game is explained in a fairly long cut scene when you first start a new game. The short version is that, the mischievous rabbids messed with an inventor’s gizmo that sort of fuses the essence of two objects into one and everyone gets transported into the Mushroom Kingdom and now some good rabbits must team up with Mario and his friends to save the Kingdom (thankfully not the princess this time) and set things back to normal.
After the few introductory scenes you are treated to your first handful of battles, which acts the tutorial system for the game. They start to teach you the core systems of the game i.e. where you move into a pre-defined battle space which have enemies present. They will be areas on the map that provide you cover, it could either be full cover or half cover. Its turn based game where you need to strategize on how you need to move your hero units. There is also the possibility wherein you could flank an enemy and give yourself a better line of sight. You also need to decide if you should move into full cover / half cover.
Another key important element that the game teaches you is that if an enemy is behind half cover you have a 50% chance of attacking the enemy, if they are behind full cover you now have 0% chance.
The game also teaches you that if you want to increase the odds in your favor, you need to perform a flank maneuver where now the odds increase from 50% to 100% if an enemy is in half cover and 0% to 100% if the enemy is in full cover. After you have played your turn, now the enemies get a go and the cycle repeats till one side wins.
The game moves at a steady pace and each battle brings in new scenarios where you need to think about your strategy, for example they introduce the concept of height and how to deal with it. Once you hit a certain point in the game, the RPG elements start to open up. Wherein you now you get Power Orbs that can be used to open up new skills for your heroes.
This does seem to add another layer to the game by now creating new ways to play and giving you more options during the battle. Also the game doesn’t penalise you encase one of your characters loses their health during these battles, that character just sits down on the battle field dizzy and is unavailable till you win with the remaining characters.
Since there is no difficulty option to choose from in this game, it does tend to offer you this option (at least from what I have played so far) at the start of a battle with full and extra health option but it doesn’t always appear.
There is no quote-unquote right way to play this game. I feel the most important thing is that you are having fun while planning out your strategies and then waiting to see what happens. Below is just one example of how a battle could play out (Minor Spoiler Warning) differently (in terms of strategies & options). On the left is how my daughter addressed the challenges in world 1-7 and on the right is how I did it.
Now the biggest take away for me from this exercise was that, I noticed my daughter had completely overlooked the skill tree option when she was playing it by herself and when I was playing it on my account I had already spent some points on my heroes.
So when she saw the playback of the video capture after I was done, she was surprised to find out that I had extra options and was like how come I never got that? and why did you do that?. It was a great teaching moment for me, where I showed her how to use the skill tree options and what each tree meant. That was the moment I kind of realised that maybe, I still need to teach her a little more of how the mechanics work in the game. But overall, she learned a few things by herself when she played the level on her own. She told me that, did you know that your characters just fall down when all your health runs out and it looks like they got tired and sit down on the battlefield “Silly Luigi”, she said. Plus she also learnt that you only get two stars for that level if you don’t complete it with your full team.
I have successfully completed the first world and completed my first “Boss Battle”. Once you’re back at your hub base, it does give you the option to replay earlier battles in case you didn’t get 3 stars on all of them.
If you do tend to go back you also will now encounter bite size challenge level each ranging from various modifiers like defeat all enemies in one turn or get to this point in 5 turns etc. Oh and like with most games these days there are many crates to find some are quite crafty and are off the beaten path. The crates sometimes hide new weapons, art work, and music or character models.
After you beat world 1-5, the game also unlocks the co-op mode aptly called the “BUDDYDOME” where two players can take control of 2 characters each and play a campaign with lots of challenges and as hinted in the below screenshots. The more campaign worlds that you finish more levels would unlock here as well. We have yet to see what mode actually will offer but it seems like this would also be a fun way for my daughter and me to bounce battle strategy ideas.
The games main currency is coins (it’s a Mario game after all) and the coins serve as the function to buy new weapons which aren’t cheap and thankfully there is “no pay to win option”. You can compare stats of the guns before you buy them and the way it works is that it knows which weapon you have currently selected so when you do find a new one in the world or you have unlocked more after beating a world, it will show you the weapons stats if it is better than what you currently have. I would have preferred a direct way to compare but, Hey! maybe on the next one they can fix it.
Once you have opened up the skill tree you can also unlock each of the characters secondary weapon option as well, like Mario has a hammer, Rabbit Peach has a robo-drone and Rabbit Luigi has a staright up bazooka.
As mentioned before, the weapons are not cheap and you do get rewarded with money after each battle but in I the long run it would definitely pay to explore the games world more and looking for coins off the beaten path.
The game does feel it is geared towards wanting for you to explore more and replay levels and try to get 3 stars on each battle and also complete the challenges as some challenges will give you Power Orbs after you beat them. Some challenges can’t even be done if you haven’t specked your character in a certain way as well.
There seems to be a lot of content in this package. Plus your little robot buddy does tend to “learn more moves” as the story progress which gives you all the more reason to back track and check for hidden goodies.
If you feel what you have read so far feels like a fun time for your kids or if you would like to join them in the fun. Then you can find below a link to the physical version of the game being sold on Amazon. But if you would like to buy the game digitally then you can do that via the e-shop on the Switch console.
The first and second links are for the physical PEGI (E.U) version of the game & the third and fourth links are for the physical and digital ESRB (U.S) version of the game. As mentioned earlier they both are essentially the same game just vary on the region which they are sold in.
Also another thing to note is that the links above include a version of the game plus all the DLC that was released for it. DLC ranges from more weapons to another story chapter including Donkey Kong as well. Now if you are on the fence and not sure if the game is for you or how much time you think your kids will stick with the game, then my recommendation would be to ignore the DLC for now and just go for the base game.
In the end I would like to say that if you own a Nintendo Switch and if for some reason you have not yet picked this game up, then it definitely deserves a chance, even if you are not a fan of turn based strategy games or even if you are but feel this is too “childish”. Honestly you would be pleasantly surprised on how the developers were able to make Mario into turn based RPG and more importantly a fun game to play.
Nintendo isn’t very aggressive on their sales as much as SONY & XBOX are these days, but if you keep an eye out then there is a good chance you can find it for a discount on the e-shop plus or on Amazon or even your retail game store.
As initial impressions go, this has certainly given something to smile about as I want to know what happens next and more importantly I want to unlock more weapons and see where they take the gameplay too. I am sure to loose whatever free time I am left with after the little one sleeps into this game.
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