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  1. #1

    [NSW] Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

    I once did a stage in Ubisoft Italy. I was never openly offered a position after that, but I already made up my mind that it's beter to play videogames rather than making them. My decision was vindicated by the amount of their videogames I'm interested in, but if I perservered I could have worked on a Mario game. The temptation to use my head to hammer nails is strong.
    But then I boot the game up, and lo and behold, pre-rendered cutscene (after a patch that brings the game to version 1.1.WayTooManyVersionNumbersFromHereOnward). A smart kid invented a VR helmet capable of fusing real-world items together, but it has overheating problems. While he's away the Rabbids materialize from a washing machine and start playing with the VR helmet, causing all sort of confusion. Since the kid is a huge Nintendo fan some Rabbids get mixed up with Mario-themed figures/Amiibos and somehow transported into the Mushroom Kingdom.
    Why am I against this cutscene you might ask? The "real world" thing kinda strides with everything, I mean, if you're just going to have the Rabbids pop in into the real world, why having the real world in the first place at all? Just find a way to mix the two fantastic worlds together.

    Anyway, after the introduction your party consists of Mario, Rabbid Luigi, and Rabbid Peach. And I must say that the two Rabbids, especially Peach, steal the spotlight from Mario. It's similar to how expressive Luigi is in Luigi's Mansion, it feels much more relatable than the straight-laced Mario. There's also a small Roomba-like robot called Beep-O, that works as a guide to this version of the Mushroom Kingdom, and bizarrely enough, as the character you control directly when going around the world map.
    Outside battles Mario + Rabbids plays almost like the world map found in 3D Land and 3D World: battles start when you approach arenas (which aren't marked, you just get to an open area and the battle begins), with the rest of the world filled with pipes, switches, and pushable blocks leading to coins and other items. You can't jump as you're controlling Beep-O rather than Mario or any other character, but going around the world map feels quite nice and the light puzzle solving is a pleasant diversion between battles.
    The world map is divided into story chapters, and their starting point is clearly marked. You can freely return to previous chapters to solve any unfinished puzzle (right now no one in the party knows how to push blocks), and at any time you can visit Peach's Castle to buy new weapons, abilities, go to different worlds, or visit the museum.

    Battles are turn-based, with your party and the enemy alternating phases. The game does a good job in introducing to its tactical elements, that right now are rather simple. All characters can movement and attack once in the sequence you want, and it's also possible to move someone, attack with someone else, and the attack with the first character.
    Other possible actions include a dash (move to an enemy's position to inflict damage), and team jump (move to an ally's position to receive a boost in movement). Very soon the game teaches you to mix all these actions together, and...well, it's rather fun. Dashing an enemy, only to have your character retreat to an ally to perform a team jump and attack from a concealed position comes natural after the game introduces you to this possibility, and so far maps have been varied enough to keep things interesting; based on the hour or so I've played this dash/jump/attack strategy is the only one, but just before quitting I've received special abilities and still have to get my hands on secondary weapons, so it's a bit too early to draw conclusions.
    If anything, the cursor feels a bit too eager to snap to a tile and you can't simply flick the analog stick to move to the next tile, you need to move the cursor as you were using a mouse.

    Mario + Rabbids looks like a proper Mario game, with bright and colourful graphics. It still lacks that "something" compared to other Mario games, but it nonetheless feels alright. The framerate, though not vital for a turn-based tactical game, seems to hover around 30fps, and developers clearly favoured graphical complexity over framerate. Again, a few animations lack those small details found in other 3D Mario games, and I have the overall feeling that the whole game should have been a tad faster, not by much, but faster nonetheless; luckily enough you can fast-forward enemy phases during battles, but can't skip them entirely (Fire Emblem allows that for example).

    Mario + Rabbids looks like a solid game. More impressions will come as I play more.

  2. #2
    I've played up to World 1 - 7 which, admittedly, isn't very far but I'm loving it!

    It's funny, looks lovely and has a real charming feeling.

    BIggest complaint is that Ubi obviously didn't want to stump up the extra cash to get some more speech samples for the Nintendo characters as all Mario seems to do is "ha haaa" which is disappointing.

  3. #3
    Progress has been slower than anticipated mostly due to rather boring normal battles.
    After a series of battles introducing new elements (secondary weapons, special actions, skill trees, a new character) Mario+Rabbids features a series of rather uninteresting battles that feel more like filler than anything.
    Then a boss battle drops in and along with a funny cutscene and character mash, you also get a battle I had a lot of fun with. Although previous battles did pose different tactical problems due to enemy and terrain nature, none were as interesting as this boss battle. You can say it's completely normal and that I'm still on world 1, but I really wish for later worlds to have more interesting normal battles.

    Characters don't have levels, and even characters not in the party get skill orbs to improve their repertoire of moves. Right now I'm with Mario, Rabbid Peach, and Luigi. Mario is a heavy hitter, he can jump on enemies (with the right skills) and pummel them with a hammer at close range, plus he can enter overwatch to hit enemies as they move during their turn. Luigi is a sniper, can enter overwatch like Mario, and can deploy a homing bomb. Rabbid Peach's main ability is to heal nearby allies, and can deploy a similar bomb to Luigi's.

  4. #4
    Completed the second world and I'm still having fun. The tactical element of the game opened up pretty nicely, and I'm digging that Mario+Rabbids uses a simple "three-step" cover system instead of a more nuanced evaluation, makes the game more enjoyable in short burst and allows for some quick battles.
    Before embarking onto the second world I spent quite some time in retreading old ground in the first world to clear as many challenges as possible, only to discover than you can use the Washing Machine to instantaneously go to the battles and challenges you want...oh well, at least I cleared some of the environmental puzzles and collected more coins.

    Right now I'm sticking with Mario, Luigi, and Rabbid Peach, although the newly available
    looks like a very useful character. Unfortunately you need to have at least one Rabbid or Mushroom Kingdom character in the party, so if I switch Luigi will probably have to go, and his long-range sniping is quite useful...especially when you give him the chance to fire twice while in overwatch.

    The AI turned out to be no pushover either, for example it moves lesser units first to trigger opportunity fire from whoever can, maneouvres to take advantage of cover, and uses buffs in meaningful ways.
    The second boss was fun, less than the first mostly because it's a straightforward battle with no real twist on how it plays. It however felt good having to deal with a large enemy that builds on concepts found in previous stages, and really made me appreciate some of the design choices in map design, and pacing in introducing enemies.

    What I'm not particularly fond of is the amount of money you need to buy new weapons. All characters get skill orbs to keep them relevant even when left unused for a lot of missions (hi Rabbid Luigi), but despite that they won't really be of much help if you don't spend a considerable amount of time gathering coins for their weapons, and without grinding money is normally enough to give your main party the most powerful primary and secondary weapon.
    Two missions in the second world also had environmental hazards to care about, and while you're aware of them in the first mission because they have their short tutorial, I wasn't aware of them in the second mission, as telltale signs weren't particularly evident.

    Mario+Rabbids continues to have funny cutscenes thanks to the Rabbids and in part Luigi. Mario and Peach are the two Nintendo icons that apparently aren't allowed to act in any funny way, and compared to the rest of the cast are rather boring. I find Rabbid Peach hilarious, and I keep her in the party just to see her (?) reactions. I mean, she's also useful in battle, but I think her main role is to be the comical focal point of the whole game.

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