E3 2017 Exclusive Hands-on Gameplay and Impressions for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

The Niche Gamer crew gets a hands-on, behind closed doors gameplay demo of Ubisoft and Nintendo’s new cross over game: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.

Check out our hands on impressions, and pick up some more info about the games features not talked about before. Here’s a transcript of the video preview:

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I doubted this game’s existence when it was leaked to the public. A game featuring a cross over between the Rabbids from Rayman and the characters from the Mushroom Kingdom seemed far fetched. I’m still questioning its existence after having the game in my hands, but I think that’s what the developers want.

The Mushroom Kingdom has been invaded by Rabbids for some reason. These rabbids then decided they’d redesign the entirety of the Mushroom Kingdom to fit closer to their aesthetic, with goombas glued to trees and warp pipes covered with Rabbid faces. This once familiar world has become an absurd abomination. Bowser has been kidnapped, Rabbids have begun to “meld” with familiar enemies like the Piranha Plant, and you are escorted by a blue talking Roomba – along with a couple of Rabbids dressed like Luigi and Peach.

Now while I can’t say that I appreciate this abomination of a crossover, I can say that I enjoyed some of the gameplay mechanics. Everything is broken into what I’d call 2 phases: exploration, and combat. In exploration mode, you are wandering the world of this new mushroom kingdom. You’ll be collecting coins, exploring mazes, finding series staples like the 8 red coins or even the fast disappearing blue coins.

You will also be encouraged to find hidden treasure chests throughout the landscape, which open up new equipment options for purchase with the coins you’ve been collecting. My only complaint about this section of gameplay is that it’s pretty linear. It feels like exploration will be very light, and it looks like you’ll be just moving from one battle to the next with only a little exploration between.

Combat is where this game does impress me.

I would never have expected a game featuring Mario to feature combat mechanics similar to the crushing style of X-COM. In this demo I controlled Mario along with the two friendly Rabbids helping you out. Battles pan out via turn-based tactical RPG mechanics where you’re facing off Rabbids with arm cannons in a squad of 4. Like X-COM, you’re trying to wipe out your enemy, utilizing cover and understanding the probability of how likely you’ll hit the enemy.

Cover is important in this game as it’s the main focus on whether you’re actually going to be hit or not. Now this has to be somehow related to the Mushroom Kingdom, so most of the cover in this game is made up of destructible bricks made famous throughout the plumbers career. Now each time you fire on an enemy Rabbid that’s in cover, there’s a possibility that the brick itself will be damaged, and after a few hits the brick will be destroyed. There are also bricks with environmental effects that can activate when hit. If for instance an enemy is using a fire brick as cover and you were to accidentally hit this brick, the Rabbid would catch fire and run around the field trying to put it out, leaving itself completely uncovered.

There are also a few notable techniques that make combat even more interesting than firing on a completely exposed Rabbid. If you were to move a unit onto another unit that unit would get a running jump to another area, which resets the characters movement limit and allows the unit to get into a better position. This is a great way to get yourself into a better position to fire on your enemy. You can also smash into your enemies during your movement phase without having to stop. This does a bit of damage, and if you can get back to your ally and jump off them you will be able to get into cover and attack as well.

This all builds up into a combat system that looks great on paper and executes pretty efficiently. Sadly the humor is absolutely terrible. This game looks like it is trying to hard to be funny and in so doing spoils the joke(s). On multiple occasions you’re able to look at the Rabbids off in the distance and see the terrible state they’re in. For example, one is constantly running in what looks like a hamster wheel and appears exhausted.

However instead of just looking at it, chuckling a bit and moving on, the game has to go out of its way to explain why it’s funny, completely destroying the set up. In another instance, you see the Peach Rabbid using a phone to take selfies on multiple occassions even while being attacked by an enemy. The first time it was funny however doing this over and over and over again makes my blood boil and loathe the thing entirely.

If you’re looking for a new take on an X-COM style of game, you might be in store for a fun game. Keep your expectations low and you might actually be surprised. I on the other hand will pass on playing this one.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle will launch for the Nintendo Switch on August 29th. You can read more about the game here in our previous report.

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I am a research student with a history in psychology. I am a fan of tactical rpgs and I love to travel. I hope to one day be a clinical psychologist.

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