Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids reminds me of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, and not just because Grant Kirkhope composed a soundtrack for it that’s indistinguishable from a Banjo-Kazooie one. It’s a totally unexpected title made by a team that’s clearly inexperienced in its genre, but it’s so much better than it has any right to be. “XCOM with Mario” is only accurate to the same degree that calling Mario KartPole Position with Mario” is accurate. Pipe travel, team jumps, unorthodox weapons and status effects, and Mario-based environmental hazards add surprising depth and a unique flavour to the tactical gameplay. It’s also more forgiving than XCOM without necessarily being easy. Characters can move, attack, and use a special ability on the same turn, and accuracy ratings are either 0, 50, or 100% depending on cover type. There’s a plot, too; it’s contrived as hell and unusually wordy, but its comical self-awareness makes it worthwhile.

The playable characters are reasonably balanced among each other, but the developers’ aforementioned inexperience shows in the cumbersome interface and blatantly lopsided upgrade usefulness within individual skill trees. The overworld exploration between battles is another example. It was probably intended to provide some relaxing contrast, and the level design is certainly a visual treat, but with only light puzzle-solving and item collection, it feels sorely underdeveloped. Combat repetition inevitably sets in anyway, because the second half of the campaign reduces the flow of new ideas to a trickle. The lack of difficulty scaling in the unlockable challenge and co-op levels is partly to blame for this; completing them mid-game drags out the campaign, but completing them at the end will be laughably easy. The competitive multiplayer has no such issue, and in fact has a handful of its own interesting mechanics, although it’s rather limited at only four maps.

6.5/10
6.5/10

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