Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle Is A Weird And Wonderful Mashup On The Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch Mario Rabbids

From planet-hopping to time-travelling to, um, hotel-running, Mario has seen and done a lot of wacky things over the years, but Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle might just be the famed plumber’s wackiest adventure yet.

The game’s intro that merges Nintendo’s most beloved mascots with Ubisoft’s rascally Rabbids is almost too nonsensical to put into words, but think David Cronenberg’s The Fly mixed with, I dunno, Minions?

After a programmer’s VR helmet capable of blending two objects gets into the hands of the Rabbids (who happen to be travelling through time via a washing machine), one of these mischievous critters slaps on the helmet and starts zapping his fellow Rabbids with everything in a room that so happens to be decked out with Mario Bros. paraphernalia. Thus, we get Rabbid-spliced versions of Mario, Luigi, Peach… you get the point.

This leads to most of the Rabbids becoming even more mischievous than ever (think Mogwai turned into Gremlins), and soon enough, all the Rabbids get sucked into a vortex and wind up in the soon-to-be-unpeaceful Mushroom Kingdom. Fortunately, those Rabbids that were merged with classic Mario mascots swiftly join forces with our iconic non-Rabbid plumber and a robot-Rabbid hybrid (Robbid?) named Beep-0. They also all get to wield Mega Man-esque cannons for up-close or long range shootouts that we’ll get into right now.

While Mario fans might find the Rabbids’ style a tad juvenile, one thing they do excel at is serving as an amusing vehicle for some very enjoyable turn-based tactical gameplay. I wouldn’t normally recommend a comparable game like XCOM to younger or casual players, but that’s not the case with Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, which does a superb job of trimming the fat—like larger maps and squads, and more actions per teammate—to get to the genre’s addictive core mechanics.

The story also contains a tonne of goofy slapstick that makes everything feel less intimidating. Other elements that help the proceedings go down smoother are 1) no perma-death, 2) no time limit, 3) unfussy menus and 4) delightfully polished visuals.

Don’t let Mario’s innocuous charms and the Rabbids’ zany toilet humour fool you, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle boasts some dense combat that requires cautious strategizing. The first levels are a breeze, but it’s not long before there’s a harsh and sudden difficulty spike (not unlike ARMS) that will force players to hone their skills lest they get creamed. Combining forces with your squad, frequently moving around the map, and studying your surroundings are the key ingredients to a successful skirmish.

If you’ve really given it your all and you’re about to throw in the Joy-Con, there’s an Easy Mode option for each battle, which will grant your team additional health. If you’re relying on this handicap, you really ought to replay earlier stages to make sure you know the ropes and your team is well-balanced. You’ll always play with Mario, but your Rabbid allies should all be sufficiently upgraded with their respective skill trees. So go back an collect more coins!

Another great thing Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has going for it are simple puzzles riddled throughout the overworld. These make for pleasant detours between fights and will help earn you extra coinage as well as more weapons. The only drawback is you don’t get to control the always-fun-to-control Mario, but rather, the far less spry Beep-0.

The game is also equipped with a handful of unlockable co-op levels that are more fun than you might imagine. Unlike the main campaign’s three-character teams, here we get four, which is a more diplomatic number if you’re passing around the controller between turns.

Now available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle isn’t just a great entry point for anyone new to the turn-based tactics genre, it’s a challenging addition for veterans as well. Check out the official game trailer below: