A few years ago somebody must have said, “What would a child friendly shooter by Nintendo be like?” and thus we have Splatoon. Then somebody, possibly the same weirdo who wanted a Nintendo shooter game, must have said, “What would a child friendly X-Com by Nintendo be like?” and thus we have Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. And it’s really good.
I don’t know much about Rabbids but I know a butt-ton about the Super Mario universe. Watching the two interact is pretty dang fun.
Basically it’s a turn based, top down, grid layout, tactical strategy game. You have three characters on your team and there’s a bunch of enemies depending on the level. You move Mario to a position on the map, maybe behind cover for added defense or up on higher terrain to improve damage, then you have him shoot an enemy with his gun (yeah, it’s weird that Mario has a gun, even though it’s a cartoonish silly gun) and lastly you may choose to have him activate a special ability. Then you do the same with your other two characters (two Rabbids cos playing as Luigi and Princess Peach at first but you unlock more characters as you play). Then the enemies have their turn. Round and round you go until everybody on one teams dies. But because it’s kid friendly nobody really dies. After you defeat them the enemy Rabbids just come to their senses and stop being evil. And when they run out of hit points Mario and the rest of Team Good Guys just become dazed and sort of take a nap on the battlefield. It’s the least violent a tactical war game could possibly be.
Mario hiding behind half cover shooting an enemy, exactly like X-Com!
What’s surprising is that it’s much deeper than I expected. Your characters have a skill tree that they can level up. There are weapons for each character to unlock with special abilities as well as lots of characters themselves to be found. The enemies have special moves too like one large Rabbid enemy charges directly at whomever shoots them the moment they get shot (instead of just waiting for their turn). So you have to strategically surround them with characters who can keep pulling the Rabbid back and forth in such a way that he never reaches anybody. There’s even boss battles with unique mechanics. The maps don’t repeat, each is unique and most have the terrain laid out in a way that’s impactfull and interesting. Luigi is basically a sniper which I didn’t expect to see in this game at all. Despite the fluff there’s a real good strategy game in there.
Luigi is a sniper, that’s awesome but also kinda weird.
It has a fun cast of characters. The Rabbids, characters from a series of games I don’t know much about, are basically insane. They are funny, but also mischievous, and not terribly bright. The interactions between the Rabbids and classic Mario characters are pretty cute. Toad and Toadette are also there, getting lost like they do. And it features lots of classic Mario characters and enemies like Chain-Chomps and even Donkey Kong. Although Donkey Kong is a giant Rabbid who likes bananas now. It’s all very light hearted and funny.
Rabbid Kong, just like the classic arcade game from my youth.
So basically we haven’t found a game genre yet that can’t be Nintendo-ified.