Release Date: August 29, 2017
ESRB: Everyone, PEGI 7
Players: 1-2 (Solo & Co-Op)
Available Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Turn-based Tactics
Mario + Rabbids is a turn-based tactics game exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Mario must defeat the bad rabbids. But not all of them are bad, some will follow Mario and fight alongside him in combat. Combat can be summed up into 3 moves: in each round you can walk a certain amount of fields, can attack an enemy and use a special power. Each character has different weapons with special effects. For example, some can turn the enemies to stone for a round so they cannot move or attack. Others use push damage to throw enemies around the map.
Mario is the team leader and he can have 2 other Mario characters or Rabbids (or a mix thereof) in his team. In total you are looking at 8 characters: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi — and their Rabbid counterparts — Rabbid Mario, Rabbid Luigi, Rabbid Peach, Rabbid Yoshi.
Peach’s Castle is the hub area from where you can buy new gear and visit new worlds. There are 4 worlds total. Each one consisting of 9 chapters + 1 bonus chapter. Each chapter is divided into 1-4 fights (2 on average). The fights last 10-20 minutes each. Heroes are not healed automatically between battles! You must conserve your health to last for the entire chapter, but can also switch out characters between battles or pick up hidden mushrooms to restore health points. If all else fails, an “easy mode” can be activated before every encounter that restores all HP and increases your maximum HP by 50% for the match.
Halfway through a world there’s a midboss and at the end one huge worldboss. The boss fights are the best part about the game. They are much harder than any other fights and require real planning and strategy.
The same cannot be said for the other fights. They are consistently easy and the difficulty never goes up. Actually, the story difficulty decreases. Over time you learn more abilities, get better weapons etc. and can easily one-hit kill multiple opponents per round. If you’re looking for a challenging game this is not it. If you want to introduce a child to turn-based tactics games then it’s a good one to start with. I’m sure kids will love the colorful worlds and funny looking characters.
Between the fights there are puzzle sections. They are a mix of aligning pipes or platforms, using rabbid cannons to get over obstacles, pushing big stones on color-coded pressure plates, finding statues and putting them on the corresponding pedestals, pointing lasers at gate switches via mirrors etc.
The puzzles are very easy. The game was obviously made with young audiences in mind, so it’s easy enough that children don’t get frustrated. Solving optional puzzles comes with useful rewards — I like that! The open world sections aren’t just fillers to drag out the game, rather you can find secret chapters and new weapons in treasure boxes (along with many other collectibles). Chapters can also be replayed to mop up missing collectibles.
My first story playthrough of Mario + Rabbids took roughly 20 hours. And that’s only half the game really. There are tons of bonus challenges with new gameplay objectives and plenty of collectibes hidden behind puzzles. Reaching 100% will keep you busy for around 40 hours.
There’s also local co-op with two Nintendo Switches, but during my time with the game I could not test this function. The option is available in Peach’s castle, which you reach early in the first chapter.
In the beginning, the game is off to a slow start. They are trying to ease us in with the most basic combat functions and that’s okay, but the problem is that we are limited to only these basic things for half the game. Unlocking characters takes a while and you don’t get weapons with decent special effect stats until the third world (out of four worlds total). Getting through the first two worlds was boring because the combat didn’t change a lot. You always go through the same few moves… walk to a position where you can attack, choose your type of attack, trigger your special ability. The combos are always the same more or less. Two abilities just aren’t enough to keep things interesting in the long run. There are, however, new enemies and objectives being introduced quite frequently.
The combat is my only big critique point. It’s repetitive, the enemies predictable, it takes a long time to get the ball rolling and there aren’t enough special abilities to keep things interesting. I can see many ways how it could be improved: introduce more abilities (at least 6-10 per character), additional secondary and primary weapons, add gameplay modifiers, maybe one unique miniboss in every stage etc.
You’re just going through the same motions over and over again. Even when members or your team change the tactics are always the same; because what else can you do if you’re limited to walking, two weapons, and two abilities (that have long cooldown periods no less). The enemies also don’t scale well to your level ups. It just gets ridiculously easy to one-hit kill 5 enemies per round in the late stages of the game. After every match you are rewarded with a rating (perfect – good – fair). This is based on how many moves it took you to complete the match. Getting perfect ratings gives you a huge money bonus at the end of the chapter. I was playing very aggressively and finished most matches in 3-5 rounds, almost always got a perfect rating. The first and second world were the hardest. The third world got easier and the last world was the easiest by far.
In my opinion, Mario + Rabbids is a good game to introduce younger audiences to turn-based tactics games. Or if you are a casual gamer who wants to play the occasional match it will serve you well. If you are looking for something more elaborate you won’t find it with this game.
*Overall Enjoyment Factor, Fascination with Game World, Level Design, Variety, Playability, User-Friendliness (Ease of Use / Readability / Controls / in-game Tutorials / Menus)
+ Cool and challenging boss fights
+ Mario & his Rabbid friends make a good team. There is a lot of “Mario stuff” in the game.
– Combat grows stale real fast. You always go through the same few moves, not enough abilities to keep things interesting.
– Slow start, takes a long time to unlock more characters, abilities and weapons with special effects.
*Quality of the Singleplayer Story, Cutscenes and/or Multiplayer Modes (whichever is available). If a game has no Story or no Multiplayer it won’t be rated (thus no negative effect on score).
Story: 6/10 – The Story is presented in bits and pieces here and there but is very forgettable. To be fair though, the game puts more emphasis on the combat rather than story. Just don’t expect any deep story-telling. The main problems are that the first two worlds don’t provide much new and remaining two worlds are actually less challenging.
Multiplayer: No online multiplayer available (there is local co-op but I could not test this feature for lack of 2nd Switch)
*Graphics, Texture Quality, Character Details, Lighting, Weather Effects, Animations, Loading Times, Number of Loading Screens, does it run smoothly
The colorful graphics you would expect from Mario and the Rabbids, it suits the game well and is one of the most ambitious Switch titles thus far.
*Amount of Content, Production Quality, Replay Value, is there enough content to justify a purchase
There’s plenty to do, around 20 hours to beat the campaign and 40 hours to 100% completion. No real replay value but more than enough content to justify a full-priced purchase. A lot of combat and a lot of optional exploration and puzzles. The game has the stellar production quality you would expect from franchises like Mario and Rabbids. Ubisoft did a great job and bringing the two together.
|Extraordinary Score Increase or Deduction
*Reserved for extraordinarily good or bad features that the other categories don’t cover (such as game-breaking bugs). This score is directly added/subtracted from the final score.
Mario + Rabbids is a nice mix of puzzles and turn-based tactical fights for younger audiences. It’s off to a slow start and gets better over time, containing a fair amount of content, collectibles and bonus challenges. It may not have the most elaborate combat system of all time but definitely brings unique ideas and concepts to the table.
A free review copy was provided by the publisher. What I played: Finished the Story, played with every character and tried all their abilities/weapons, tested some of the challenges, got most of the collectibles.
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