Release: August 29th, 2017
While it was hands down the worst-kept secret leading up to E3, the interesting thing about Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle wasn’t its existence but people’s reaction to it. Namely people’s snap judgment and dunking on something they’ve never even seen before. As I’ve gotten older the cultural cachet of the internet and the general negative din that permeates from it made me realize that there’s a very thin line between being constructively critical of something and just plain being an ass.
I myself am not much of a Rabbids fan per se, but hearing that they’d teamed up with the Mushroom Kingdom crew in a hybrid strategy RPG no less had me intrigued at the most and at least willing to give it the benefit of the doubt at least.
Surprise, surprise – Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle looks like a unique amalgamation of franchises and play styles that, at least in my humble opinion, looks worth checking out.
For the most part the plots in Mario games are intentionally aloof excuses to do whatever it is that they have you do, but the effect of the Rabbids definitely has an impact on the world design. With the Mushroom Kingdom being invaded, this is probably the closest you’re going to get to a post-apocalyptic setting on a Nintendo platform. Adding to the dilapidated blocks, crushed debris and fallen cartoon parapets are a healthy dose of Rabbid-themed warp pipes and the like. It’s a different take on the familiar, and it all looks great and animates like a Saturday morning cartoon.
But the most important thing about Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is that its fresh take on strategy role-playing games could welcome a new crowd to an otherwise niche play style. It has the familiar trappings – grid based movement, a defined turn-taking mechanic, degradable cover. It’s the emphasis on movement (well, that and its wacky premise) that makes it stand out. You can launch one of your party members even further by jumping off of another one, as well as take actions briskly such as running to cover, taking your shot, and then summarily beating a hasty retreat. In that sense it feels “Mario-ified” in such a way that it feels similar enough to what it’s trying to emulate but simultaneously new enough to be more interesting that in has any right to be.
I’m looking forward to Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle far more than I thought I would and the fact that it releases in a scant couple of months means I won’t have to wait long.