Now just before I get into this, I know how crazy it sounds. You’ve got a video game icon like Mario, partnered with the original Minions. But then you add a bit of Xcom, and the portability of the Switch, and you get something quite exciting. Kingdom Battles is an adventure from Ubisoft and Nintendo for players of all ages. I can tell you, I’ve been playing this all over the place at the moment, in the loo, at the table or on the big screen. But how does it hold up as a game? Let me tell you, and be aware there will be no spoiler content here if you’re into that, so my screenshots will be from the first world.
The game begins with a nice story cut scene. The Rabbids discovered an Augmented Reality helmet, the SupaMerge, capable of merging items together. By being the chaotic beings that they are, they begin to fuse with multiple items, including Nintendo ones. The
machine quickly malfunctions and they get transported into the Mushroom Kingdom. As you can imagine, it wasn’t natures goal to have the Raving Rabbids mix up with Mario and his way of life. As a result of this things get very messy for everyone, I feel sorry for Mario the most, he has to team up with rabbid versions of his closest friends.
Throughout the game you’ll travel around 4 different Mario themed worlds. They tend to use the traditional format of Grass -> Dessert -> Spooky and then a lava world at the end. There’s around 9 chapters in each world with bits of hidden and explore-able content. You see this game uses an open world to navigate from battles, which gives the player freedom to move at their own pace. As a collector myself I was constantly trying to find every coin and item I could find. When you finish a world you also unlock extra challenges as well as a local coop campaign.
Now onto the main beef of the title, the turn based combat that reminds me of Xcom. As a game meant for people of all ages, this one makes sure that the combat is easy to understand and flexible in it’s execution. While anyone can select a target and press fire, there’s room to be tactical and cautious as you approach a situation. All the characters have different abilities and playstyles and you’ll encounter more as you progress. However as you progress you might notice an intense difficulty spike all of a sudden, meaning you’ll be more careful about your load-out and where you take enemies from. A lot of the time it depends on the characters you use and how they benefit from the area of combat.
Something I find different to the whole dynamic of Xcom is the reliability on your squad staying together. Playing Xcom I’ll send everyone around the place and usually someone to hang back on keep watch. However keeping everyone together in Kingdom Battles benefits you’re team overall and ensure’s survivability most of the time. Certain characters have abilities to boost or heal nearby allies, and you are always able to use other members of the squad in order to gain a huge movement boost. You”ll be flying around the map using this and it helps a lot to get in safe attacks.
All together the combat and universe fits together to make a very delicious pie, however that pie sometimes has rocks in it that makes you take extra care before your next bite. While the sort of open world between levels is fun to look at, there’s not a lot to do besides find coins. It would have been nice to find npc’s with extra quests and backtracking for me to do for once. However I always found myself having fun even during these sections which is what I expect from a title featuring Mario and the Rabbids. I was also hungry for some sort of online multiplayer mode, so I could take on someone with my excellent tactics and skill. Unfortunately the closest you get is the separate local co-op campaign you can unlock by completing each world.
While I wasn’t exactly missing the Rabbids, it’s been fun to have them along side Mario. Somehow the two universes combine in a really charming and colourful way that kids and adults should both love. As a Nintendo Switch exclusive I think this game does a very good job at adding to the exciting library of games on the console. While there may not be many out there, they keep coming out with high scores in my book. Playing through this had made me even more glad to own a Switch, and it’s gotten me very excited for Mario Odyssey coming next month.
There’s some really fun gameplay, with great bosses. However the open world feels empty and I wish there was lots more content for returning players after a first time completion.
Overall for me the game gets an 8/10