Ubisoft and Nintendo officially announced the crossover title Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle this week at E3. We’ve been hearing lots of rumors about this joint venture for over a month now, and despite the minor spoilers, the details on it really grabbed my attention.
Both figuratively and literally, Mario has worn a lot of hats over the years. He’s raced go-karts, played board games, and kicked Koopa ass in both two and three dimensions. At one point he even traveled through time to try and help us learn history. As much fun as these different activities were, the spin off game that I still regard as his best was the Square developed Super Mario RPG.
Super Mario RPG was a match-made-in-heaven when Square’s incredible team of game designers got their hands on the much lauded Nintendo IP. Seeing those familiar Mario characters thrust into an immersive and detailed RPG adventure was awesome, and I felt that same feeling clawing its way back up when we got to see M+RKB in action. Like Super Mario RPG before it, M+RKB is giving us a fresh new type of experience by breaking with established convention and making us expand our definition on what constitutes a Mario game.
Much like Square, Ubisoft has been extremely respectful of the established Mario conventions. The game world looks incredible. It’s probably one of the most aesthetically pleasing Mario games ever created, with beautiful artwork and design. Hats off to the devs because I didn’t think it would be possible to seamlessly blend the unique art style of Ubisoft’s Rabbids with the ultra polished feel of a traditional Mario adventure. Go watch the trailer here and note how smoothly they combined the semi-claymation look of Ubisoft with the environments, color palettes, and overall tone we expect from a Nintendo title.
Enough about pretty colors though, what’s most important at the end of the day is gameplay. M+RKB will be Mario’s first venture ever into a brand new genre. This time, our favorite paunch plumber is trying his hand at turn-based-tactical-strategy. Think, Fire Emblem or X-Com, and you will have a general idea of what I’m harping on about. Some long time fans might be turned off by this move at first; claiming this isn’t what they want and that it’s not a good fit for Mario. To them I say, “Horsefeathers! How can you be so short sighted? Remember how people made similar protests when Final Fantasy Tactics was initially announced? Look at how kind posterity has been to that beloved game.”
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Wars is scheduled to release on August 29 of this year. I think the only thing I find upsetting about this game at all is that it’s a Switch exclusive; meaning that now I actually have a reason to pick up Nintendo’s newest console.