Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle comes out of nowhere to combine Nintendo’s headline characters and Ubisoft’s Rabbids franchise together into a turn-based squad combat game. Yep, turn-based squad combat. Take Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, or your other favorites and pair them up with crazy-minded rabbit-shaped copies for some squad based combat as you journey though lands to “fix” the mess first created by the rabbids. While not the deepest strategy game, it is a great introduction to the genre and provides a fun romp through a colorful world of characters.

The story begins with several Rabbids (goofy, unruly rabbit-shaped hooligans) running amok in a basement lab. A special “fusion” experiment begins to combine everything with everything else, sucking the Rabbids and Nintendo Characters into an alternate dimension where some rabbids even combine to form “Rabbit Luigi”, “Rabbid Peach”, and others. You must take your team of characters (along with Rabbid versions) and fight through a series of squad-based battles as you try to reach the final confrontation where you can defeat the main Rabbid villian and restore order to the universe.

Walking through a standard Nintendo-esque world of colorful and funny environments, your team stumble upon a battlefield of “enemy” rabbids and engage them in turn-based squad combat. Each teammate is allowed a move and an attack (in either order) and then the opposing squad retaliates. The game board can contain multiple levels, destructible terrain, and Mario-esque tunnels that allow for quick movement around the board. Characters can even hop on a friend and get launched across the battlefield for extra distance. Battles are varied and more and more types of enemy Rabbids are employed as the story progresses. There are even the occasional “miniBoss” battles that include particularly impressive game-changing opponents.

Each character has individual characteristics: hit points, speed, and damage as well as a special ability (such as a shield or reactionary fire) that can be activated during the combat. Additional characters are added to your available pool as the game progresses. Characters gain experience, increasing their statistics and even have a multifaceted skill tree allowing improvement in standard and special abilities to create characters unique to each game. Combat also reward players with gold which can be spent on improved weapons. Weapons are unique to each character and more become available as the game progresses.

In addition to the standard campaign, the game supplies some multiplayer modes as well as a few co-op courses accessed through the game’s central “hub” of activity, containing the store, trophy room, and other buildings.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle stunned me as it came out of left field. I was expecting a game with a bit of strategy, but did not expect a full fledged turn-based squad battle game. Typical Nintendo characters, villains, and environments are mixed in with a game of surprisingly deep tactical gameplay. This isn’t going to compete with the strategic depth of an X-Com or Panzer General, but it is a perfect fit for the Switch console. Most combats are on the easy side for experienced tactics players, but the depth of customization of your squad as well as the individuals on your squad provides a solid “meal” of tactical options. For those new to the genre, Kingdom Battle is a great introduction to squad based combat. The initial levels lead players through the basics of combat in a painless (and enjoyable) manner. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle comes highly recommended for new or old strategy gamers.

Kid Factor:
Despite the game’s focus on combat, this game exudes Nintendo-standard cartoon foolery. Combat is brightly colored (well, everything is actually) with no death scenes or what have you. The graphics stay cute, furry, and silly throughout. Even reading is kept at minimum, so the game should be accessible to anyone interested in taking a dip into the world of squad-based tactical games.

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