I spent Saturday morning racing to East London for the Hyper Japan Festival 2017. The festival is always a blast but the real reason I was racing there this year was to get my hands-on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, the surprisingly charming and hotly anticipated Switch game coming later this year. Seeing the game at E3 really made me want to check it out and boy, it did not disappoint.
So, I had 20 minutes with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom which in the grand scheme of things is a very decent amount of time. I’m obviously not going to be able to review the game as I would if I had unfettered access to it but it was enough time for me to form some early opinions.
Basically, this is the Mario game you never knew you needed. Everything I saw was incredibly charming. The game’s combat is turn based tactical but the section in between feels like typical Mario with exploration, coin collecting the whole shebang. One of the set pieces I explored involved moving walls
In the demo I played, I took part in three separate battles which were all interesting. It’s obvious from the get go that while the concept of these battles is simple, they have the potential to get really deep after new features are introduced. Cover features heavily as an element you must learn to control to win battles, new weapons can be discovered and equipped to increase your damage and certain enemies will be on neither your side or your opponents, attacking either indiscriminately. In the third battle I played, I fought against a huge Chain Chomp that would chew down on enemy rabbids just as soon as it would Mario.
The best part of the game though was the quirky scenes in which rabbids were making a fool of themselves. I don’t actually think this will be everyone’s cup of tea but I found them so charming. A one point I saw a rabbid stuck in a classic Mario pipe with its legs thrashing wildly behind it. The companion that is showing you around has some sassy comment to make and the whole thing is super cute. These, plus the little cutscenes I saw (one of which featured rabbid Peach taking a selfie with the portal that causes all the trouble in the game) made the whole thing feel unique and like no game I’d ever played before.
I genuinely think that Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle could be a hidden jewel in the Nintendo Switch’s crown – it’s charming, quirky and has enough depth to keep more seasoned gamers interested. Definitely going to be one to watch.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle releases worldwide on 29 August 2017.