Mario and Rabbids, where to begin with this game? I suppose I should start with how strange the concept is. This game is a crossover with the Super Mario series, and the Rayman spin-off series, Raving Rabbids. Unexpectedly, the game is also a turn based tactical shooter. Without going into too great detail, most of the premise doesn’t make sense.
I want to review this game to see just how strange it is, and if it works better than the core idea sounds. Also, I should mention that I have not played through any optional content. This includes current DLC, vs. mode, co-op, and anything not available till you beat the game. It should also be noted that my play through did not involve any back tracking for extra goodies, so that may impact my impression of the game. With all that out of the way, let’s get started!
The very first thing to note about the game is its humor. Much of it is visual and slapstick style, so don’t expect a ton of spoken dialogue. Some of the humor is mildly crude too, but not annoyingly so. On rare occasions, the sounds the Rabbids make can be irritating. Make sure you don’t use the pause menu near some chatty Rabbids found in the over world, as they will keep making their noises even in certain menus.
The music has an orchestral score, and has a fun and quick pacing to it most of the time. It isn’t unfair to say that the music has an epic feel at times, which is a tad unusual considering the wacky premise of the game. There are even a few good throwbacks to old Mario games in the soundtrack. The sound effects are appropriately amusing as well.
Now let’s look at the core game play. This game has a somewhat steeper learning curve than expected. You control three characters in every battle, who can move, attack, and use supportive techniques in any order.
Movement is weird, as your characters can trip an enemy in movement range for bonus damage, then can move anywhere in his or her starting movement range. Additionally, that same character can move even further if an ally gives that character a team jump action. Lastly, unlike most games I’ve played in the genre, you cannot cancel movement after you change positions, making the game harder to learn.
The next thing to note is how cover works. There is partial cover, which blocks attacks 50% of the time, and then there is full cover, which blocks all attacks. Keep in mind that cover only blocks attacks from certain directions. Targeting is strange too, as anyone can shoot in eight directions, making it somewhat unclear as to what angles they can reach opponents in.
The user interface is weird. The tacticam feature, which gives you info about opponents, only shows movement and firing range separately. You have to take note of firing range and add it to movement range by eye to see if a character can be hit by a foe. It doesn’t show how cover impacts firing range either.
It should also be noted that the controls are somewhat unusual. You have to use the trigger buttons (ZL and ZR) to cycle through the character’s actions. The L and R buttons are used to change the character you are controlling. I wouldn’t mind the use of the four directional buttons on the left joy-con instead, or canceling which action you are using with the B button, and using the left joystick to toggle between actions. Using the A button to confirm is the only thing that makes complete sense here.
That being said, there are a lot of neat combos you can use in this game. The game rewards the player for cleverly positioning and taking care of what order actions are taken. Mario’s hero sight technique, which reacts to enemies that move into his firing range, works well if another ally pushes, bounces, or burns an opponent.
The game’s length seems odd too. It features 4 worlds with 9 missions each. Each mission consists of 1 to (rarely) 4 battles each. There are puzzles along the way, but most are easily solved by just trying things out, with some exceptions late in the game. The difficulty curve is strange too, as world 3 gets an increase in challenge, but the difficulty is somewhat easier in world 4.
Character customization is limited to buying equipment, and filling out character skill trees with power orbs. Coins for equipment are gained fastest by completing the next mission, and doing so in a set number of turns, with your party intact. Power orbs are obtained the same way, but aren’t performance reliant. There is an automatic upgrade to all characters for completing a world as well, allowing the developers to carefully craft the challenges based on progression, and not by experience points that other games use.
Perhaps my biggest gripe about the game is the auto save feature. It is the only way to save the game! There is no manual save, and some battles do not save in between them at all! I don’t know why there isn’t even a temporary quick save feature for battles. This game is turn based, there is no excuse to force a player to replay certain parts just because they need a break.
Okay, that covers most of what you need to know before you pick up this game. Here are some play recommendations to make the most of the game:
- Play each battle to the best of your ability, you get more coins that way.
- Purchase the strongest available weapons for your characters as you can afford them. Anything weaker than what is already equipped isn’t worth it.
- Fill out the skill tree as you get power orbs when a new skill is available. You can reset the skill tree and rearrange it if you have trouble.
- Unless you can’t get enough of this game, just play the story missions. You can always try out whatever is left when you have time afterwards.
Lastly, here are the Pro’s and Con’s
- Good humor
- Epic music and perfect sound effects
- Mastery of the game leads to some clever attack combos
- The graphics are appropriate for the game
- Auto save is inconvenient
- UI issues
- Strange controls
- Somewhat steep learning curve
- A sudden jump in difficulty, that partially drops out later
All in all, Mario + Rabbids is a strange game in every aspect. So what is the final verdict?
7.8/10 Good, but an acquired taste
So those are my thoughts on Mario + Rabbids. What did you think of the game and why? Have you tried out the extra modes? Is the DLC worth it? Let me know in the comments below!