Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

From: Ubisoft

Rated: E 10+

Who it's for: Anyone interested in a strange but solid strategy game

Console: Nintendo Switch

Grade: A

It all goes back to the old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial. "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter," has become culturally synonymous with mixing two dissimilar things and ending up with something special.

"Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle" qualifies as one of these strange and wonderful combinations. It doesn't seem like it should work, but I'm pleased to report that it really, really does.

The Rabbids, frequently described as "raving," have gotten their paws on goggles that fuse two items together. With these goggles, and the help of their Time Washing Machine, and a poster of the Mario gang, they end up in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Most of the Rabbids have remained their mischievous selves, and have taken off to cause chaos in the Kingdom. A few, however, having fused with the Mario poster, have taken on the personae of some really familiar characters, resulting in Rabbid Mario, Rabbid Peach, Rabbid Luigi and Rabbid Yoshi. Mario and the gang must join forces with their Rabbid counterparts in order to find the fiend with the goggles and restore peace to the Mushroom Kingdom once more.


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If the above is already spinning your head, you may want to sit down and hold on.

" Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle" isn't a platform game like one might picture when thinking Mario and Rabbids. Instead, the game plays more like "XCOM," a turn-based strategy game that requires more brain power than thumb power. You control a group of three, starting off with Mario, Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Luigi (other characters are picked up along the way). This group can explore areas of the Mushroom Kingdom, looking for coins and other special pickups while moving between battlefields.

When you start a battle, the action switches to a turn-based grid where you must decide where to position your team, moving about the area to gain advantage in combat or for the rare other objective.

Most areas are littered with objects you can use for coverage. Partial coverage reduces your (or your enemy's) chances of being hit, while full coverage eliminates it. However, all coverage is destructible, an important fact to keep in mind when you're standing behind a half-block while there are multiple enemies across from you. If they blast away your coverage your character will be exposed and very vulnerable.

In a very different twist for a Mario game, every character has access to a number of gun-like weapons — more than 250 in total — each with different effects and abilities. Some weapons are more useful against certain enemies, while some provide useful effects to help you get through specific maps. It's important to equip the right weapon for the right occasion.

Maps themselves also require careful strategy. Each is filled with obstacles, pipes, covers and traps. You can move independently, or have another teammate help boost you to a further location.

Success is all about choosing the correct teammates, weapons and movement patterns. Battles have more than one solution, but good strategy always will win.

The game itself is everything you never knew you wanted it to be. The delightfully wacky story somehow works. Mario and the Rabbids complement each other because they have such different styles and personalities. The game eases you into combat gently, introducing new concepts slowly and giving you a chance learn without being overwhelmed.

The between-stage exploration contains a few puzzles, but nothing too arduous. Gotta save that brain power for the fights after all. The maps hold plenty of secrets and rewards though, making the time you spend looking around well worthwhile.

The game also works exceptionally well on the Switch. The vibrant, well defined backgrounds look great on a big-screen TV, but everything still translates well when playing on the go.

While "Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle" doesn't adhere to the standard model of "Mario" or "Rabbid" games, the collaboration between Ubisoft and Nintendo has yielded something special. Anyone who enjoys these franchises and has at least a passing interest in strategy games should give it a try.