When the Switch launched we were spoilt. Zelda Breath Of The Wild turned out to be just as important a game as Mario 64 was on the N64. A game so good people actually started coming up with reasons how it wasn’t just to swim against the tide. After that, unfortunately, there were very specific titles. Arms and Splatoon 2 were amazing if you liked them but if you didn’t they were expensive, shallow wastes of £50. Now there is another Skywalker. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is not just a great Switch game, it is a great game full stop.
Put very simply this is X-Com with a greater emphasis on movement and attack. X-Com is a deeper game with its base building and creeping around maps, slowly keeping your soldiers alive until they have a hope against superior odds. Rabbids dispenses with the caution and base building and doubles down on the action. You won’t creep around a map here, fearing permadeath and constantly reloading your saves. In Kingdom Battle, you go all-out-attack from word go.
Starting with a team of three the map is always completely revealed at the beginning, no slow steps around the map to reveal the fog of war. You can begin to plan your actions from before the first move. It changes the complete feel of the game from one of defensive guerrilla warfare to a game of chess. The board is open, the pieces are set and it is down to you how to use them.
With the simplistic graphics, you may be forgiven for thinking this game is easy and for the first few levels, this is the case. Quickly you get the hang of the wonderful movement mechanics. Move a character into position then immediately move another teammate on top of them and they use them as a springboard to jump even further. In effect, it doubles the already wide sphere of movement of a character and because you can use your team’s moves and abilities in any order within your turn the tactics are suddenly incredibly powerful. The only thing that isn’t for the first few battles is your enemies. Before long around the first sub-boss battle, you suddenly find yourself under a bit of pressure. The enemies use the movement against you or you get cocky and try to end the battle too quickly leading to you being exposed out of cover and open to a clear shot. Get hit with more than one of these shots and your hero could soon be stunned leaving you to go on with two.
As the difficulty ramps up so do your own attacking options. Mario soon gains the useful overwatch ability from X-Com and Rabbid Luigi and Rabbid Peach gain their own shields and buffs. Believe me, these are soon needed as Rabbids can appear from the ground in threes just when you are about to complete a battle with a three-star ranking. It is an adult strategy game hiding behind a beautiful coat of Nintendo paint courtesy of Ubisoft. From the strangest pairings, greatness often comes. Honesty this stripped down version of X-Com has many advantages over the illustrious inspiration. The mere mindset of being an attacking game rather than a defensive one makes each battle a joy rather than a chore. In X-Com a secret enemy appearing made you cringe as you had done all you could to keep your squad alive. An extra enemy in Rabbids, makes you charge headlong into the fight against them. Looking to see how you can beat them in the most efficient way. It means you don’t feel the same fatigue playing the game. Levels aren’t as stressful and you can rattle through them one after another. Soon you will be wishing for more rather than hoping you are nearly finished.
Being on the Switch, the portable and handheld nature of the game makes it even more addictive, it’s the first game where I have got the low battery warning as I was playing and it had me searching for the charger.
In between battles, there is a fun exploration element to the game. Using devices like Mario’s 8 red coins and the pipes to make your way around, you search for chests and coins to unlock new weapons, collectibles and the funds to unlock them. After this, you go to Peach’s kingdom to apply your upgrades. This adds skills like the aforementioned Overwatch for Mario.
The best thing I can really say about this game is it makes me glad I own a Switch. Before this, only the excellent Zelda justified the outlay and there has been plenty of temptation to trade it in. Playing a game like Rabbids on the perfect fit of a system just shows how the magic can happen. It is a game that would have sold a system like the PS Vita. A console quality game on the go that can be suspended easily and needs no internet connection. Hopefully, there are more games in the near future like this but until then, this is an essential purchase if you have a Switch.
Buy it here