Posted June 14, 2017 by Andrew Cathie in Feature

E3 2017: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Hands-On Preview

Before the leaks began, if you had asked what Ubisoft IP I would most expect to be crossed over with Mario, I certainly wouldn’t have given Rabbids as my answer. While I had some reservations after the leaks began to occur, I was cautiously optimistic about what would come out of the collaboration. The big reveal for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle during Ubisoft’s E3 2017 press conference proved that my optimism was the correct emotion, with the game looking fantastic. Since then, Adam was able to go hands on with the game on the E3 show floor and walked away thinking positively about the game.

In the demo, Adam took control of Mario as he joined forces with two Rabbids – one dressed as Luigi, another as Princess Peach. You may remember them from the trailers shown so far for the game. Before getting into any combat, you explored a 3D overworld from an isometric perspective, which isn’t too dissimilar to Super Mario RPG. Instead of controlling these characters, you actually control a little Rabbid-styled robot that looks quite like a Roomba. This robot effectively acts as a cursor that leads your whole party around the level. Potentially because of this lack of direct character control you can’t jump in the overworld, but you can collect coins as you run around, including red coins in familiar Mario-style challenges. As you explore, there are also little Rabbid scenes that play out around it. At the press of a button you can watch these scenes and get a little comment on them from your new robotic leader.

After exploring the overworld, you’ll eventually come across some enemy Rabbids that need to be destroyed, so of course it’s time to begin a battle. These battles play out like many other tactical RPGs, with a turn based system that is perhaps mostly akin to something like XCOM. Battles are turn-based, allowing you to first move around the grid on the map, to try and find a good position to then fire on your enemy (with lasers and non-lethal, yet spectacular, weapons of course). Unlike other tactical turn-based RPGs, orientation doesn’t seem to matter so much (facing forwards rather than backwards, for instance), but finding cover around the map certainly does. Along with providing some protection to yourself, you can fire above cover, or around corners, and even destroy cover that enemies are hiding behind. This does of course mean that the cover you have destroyed won’t be available for you to use as you push forwards on the map.

All three characters have their own unique weapons, and also have unique abilities as well, such as healing units within a certain area or unleashing other special attacks, such as Mario’s overwatch style ability that allows him to fire on an enemy within range that moves in his line of sight. While you may think that battles are all about wiping out the enemy team, completion objectives in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle will change depending on the situation at hand. At one point in the demo the objective was simply to get one party unit to the other side of the map unharmed. While this might sound relatively simple, it was made difficult by the addition of a giant Chain Chomp. This guy would target anyone who got too close to him – friend or foe, which meant he made for a good distraction to allow your units to slip by – but once he takes out all the enemies you put in his way, he’ll come gunning for you instead.

There are also a some very Mario-esque elements to the game – such as bouncing off the back of a party member to boost your movement area during a turn, as well as sliding through enemies for an additional attack while moving to a new position. Pipes, similar to the ones from Super Mario 3D World, also appear and allow you to quickly access other parts of the battlefield, pop out, attack, then pop back in again for hit-and-run tactics. These unique mechanics help bring a bit of space to the battle as a whole, setting them apart from other tactical turn-based RPGs.

Overall, while Adam’s time with the game wasn’t too long, he found it to be surprisingly deep, tactical and fun to play. It’s perfect as a portable game, allowing for quick battles and bouts of exploration on the go, while also playing really well on a big-screen TV as well. It seems perfect for those who have a hankering for a new Final Fantasy Tactics Advance-esque game. Look out for it when it releases on August 29th.

Andrew Cathie

Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.


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