For the first time ever, the Mario franchise makes its way onto a strategy, turn-based adventure game and Ubisoft have pretty much nailed it in every respect.
There are many reasons to pick up the new Nintendo Switch console, which hit the market earlier this year in March, including to play the new Zelda game. To build the hype around this new console and the upcoming release of Nintendo's 'Super Mario Odyssey', third-party developer Ubisoft proves their dedication to the Nintendo Switch with the release of 'Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle'.
Although it may not be the first time a third party developer has had use of Nintendo's precious Mario franchise IP, it is the first time Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom companions have found themselves in a strategy, turn-based world, loaded with blasters, bazookas and a slew of special abilities.
Out to save the Mushroom Kingdom that has been twisted by Ubisoft's doltish Rabbids world, you travel with Mario and all of your familiar Mushroom Kingdom companions as you blast away mobs of these not-quite-right Rabbids.
Without any second guessing, the logic behind a world contorted and warped into both Nintendo and Ubisoft landscapes – ie. a band of time-travelling Rabbids taking control of a piece of headgear that combines two objects – makes for a complete, well-rounded storyline that oddly enough ends up making perfect sense.
Everything you love about the Mario franchise is in here. The story is cute, family-friendly, littered with humour for the young and old, and looks absolutely beautiful. Despite its kid-friendly – like anything Nintendo – 'Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle' makes for a staggeringly strategic, combat experience without layers of complexities found in most other tactical, turn-based games.
With a few minor character, weapons and combat system customisations, it probably makes for the best introduction to this style of game. With fairly limited explanation, first-time strategy players will quickly and quite easily pick up the main concepts of chance-to-hit, status effects, use of cover and special abilities/ talents (including both passive and active talents progressively learned).
Being so accessible is one of this game's main strengths. However, it does lend itself to perhaps being too basic for its own good toward the end game once the user has a hang of everything.
In saying that, the actual turn-based battles aren’t necessarily easy. At first it may seem like the experienced gamer may just fly right through these combat scenarios. But before you know it you’ve been flanked by a huge variety of enemy Rabbids who wipe you out in only a few turns, making it crucial to develop new strategies to take advantage of the various talents/ abilities of each character.
Offering more depth and helping to break up these sequenced, battle scenarios are the puzzles scattered throughout the Mushroom Kingdom waiting to be solved to allow access to the next stages. Typically, these puzzles are simplistic and involve flicking switches, moving boxes and rushing to collect coins in time.
However, they are just the right level of a challenge and work perfectly to keep you wanting to move onto the next battle scenario.
With a clean-cut UI and elegantly simple presentation, it allows for an engaging, fun-filled quirky journey through the world of Mario meets Rabbids without compromising the depth and challenge of a tactics game.
Ubisoft has indeed nailed this debut of Mario in the strategic/ tactical gaming realm and has done it so carefully, with such precision and passion that we may see more Nintendo franchises allowed to be used by third-party developers.
'Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle' is available now on Nintendo Switch.