Video Games

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle & the joy of movement

Run, jump and slide your way to victory.

If you’ve ever played a strategy game, you’ll know that it’s all about numbers. The chance that you’ll hit with this shot or attack, this odds that if you do this then the enemy will do that and so on. When it comes to moving your units around it’s a very mechanical process. You want to move to this location to provide the best angle or you want to move a unit over there so they flank the enemy. Moving around a map or given area is a means to an end, that end being better numbers. In Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, you’ll be chasing those better numbers but you’ll also move around because it’s fun.

You can see the effort and detail that has gone into making each character’s dash from square to square such a joy. The simple addition of the dash mechanic that allows you to inflict melee damage by rushing through the same spaces your enemy and jumping on a foes head in classic Mario style, add a whole new element to the standard strategy game formula.

When dashing, you can continue your movement to your desired location afterwards and still shoot later in the turn as well. On top of this, as you progress certain characters unlock the ability to dash through multiple enemies in a single run. All of this means that considering your location amounts to more than just the best vantage point to take your shot, you want to take full advantage of your dashing ability, too.

Layering over this is the ability to jump onto a friendly character and springboard yourself forward or land on an enemy for some damage and bounce off the continue to reap havoc elsewhere. This means that it’s entirely conceivable to run and dash into an enemy, jump off a friendly character, land on another enemy, dash into a third and then shoot a fourth. The whole thing makes movement its own puzzle that compliments the standard turn-based strategy game perfectly. It makes moving about far more than reaching a good vantage point to get a better number. Instead, it’s about squeezing the most you possibly can out of every single move to maximise your damage and watch this ridiculous sequence unfold in all its glory.

Mario + Rabbids doesn’t dump all of this complexity on your doorstep from the start. Instead, like a cat leaving you little treats each day, you gradually unlock these mechanics piece by piece. This means that you get the time to fully understand dashing before jumping off a friendly unit is introduced and similarly get to grips with that before landing on enemies becomes a thing. This works perfectly for people who are less familiar with strategy games in general as it means they won’t be overwhelmed with all the choices. However, for those who are more experienced, the core moving and shooting is engaging enough by itself that when you realise how cool the moving is you’ll look at the entire game differently.

Every turn is about maximising your movement but also about looking cool. For example, you might be able to reach some elevation to get some better shooting numbers by just running and going through a pipe, but you could also do the same thing by launching off Mario. Given the choice between the two, I know which I’d pick. Adding to this, as you progress through the game, Mario + Rabbids gives you even more incentives to jump through abilities that recover status ailments each time a character is launched.

And then there are the characters. Everybody plays a little differently. There are similarities such as sharing certain powers or weapon types. However, the combinations are always different and thematically appropriate. For example, Mario is an all-rounder who is good at a little of everything, Luigi is a boss at jumping and a bit more cautious and Rabbid Luigi is crazy. Since every character is so different and the ‘level up’ elements are mostly shared it means that you can try out different team setups without any negative consequences.

All of which makes Mario + Rabbids Kindom Battle unlike any other. And more to the point, who could have seen it coming? I, for one, would never have expected Mario + Rabbids to breath new life into the strategy genre and make me think completely differently about moving around a grid. All of this tied together in a wrapper of a game that is funny and approachable.


Thanks for reading, if you want some more Switch games stuff why not watch our video on Pokemon Let’s Go’s Co-Op or perhaps you want to read about map reading in Hollow Knight?

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6 comments on “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle & the joy of movement

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