At E3 Expo 2017, I was able to get hands-on with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle for the Nintendo Switch. Not gonna lie, this game did not give me the “warm fuzzies” when I saw the leaked information prior to E3 or during the Ubisoft Press Conference. Once I was able to play a bit, there is more there than you would expect. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has a cutesy art style, wackiness from the Rabbids, strategy like X-COM, and the legitimacy of a Mario game.
This game is a strategy RPG through and through – right down to the possible hit percentage when your character is aiming. Though it is a turn-based strategy RPG, some functions have been dumbed down or been removed in order to speed up combat and keep the player from getting distracted. That is not to say the game is simple. You can use these “simpler” mechanics to chain together movement attacks that lengthen your turn and literally give you the jump on your adversaries. You are able to use allies to launch you across the map to keep your movement going or use tubes to get the drop on enemies or my favorite, use the slide attack as you pass by to get an easy 20 hit points knocked off that guy in the corner. There was one turn, I was in one corner of the map, I went to an ally who launched me in the air, I went through a pipe, slid through a guy, went through another pipe, slid through another enemy and finished him off with my weapon right after diving into cover. It does not seem like a lot, but I think that is where the depth will come in, rather than turning allies to face the “correct” direction.
The story did not make a splash with me. I mean, I’m not entirely certain what the story is, and in truth, it probably doesn’t make a ton of difference anyway. Battling wasn’t the only thing Ubisoft was showing that night, I was able to explore just a small section of the overworld. Your party follows you as you control a Roomba named Beep-o. While the name may not be original, the party movement is swift and smooth. You don’t just walk from one battle to another, there are little minigames abound like a typical “8 coins appear and you must collect them all before the timer runs out.” I would argue the overworld looks a lot better than the battlefield.
Overall, I surprisingly enjoyed Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. There’s now a game in August I’m looking forward to playing – and it’s on the Nintendo Switch! My only real complaint is the demo they had at E3 was very easy and although they would not comment on a difficulty slider, they did assure me the story mode will increase in difficulty. I look forward to that occurring. There will also be local competitive multiplayer for those with friends nearby with a Switch, but I would not expect any online modes.