This is an ongoing list where I attempt to do the following: Play, Complete, and Rank every video game in the known universe in order to finally answer the age old question "What is the greatest game of all time?" For previous entries find the links on the attached spreadsheet.
How did I do?
|Team used||Mario, Luigi, Rabbid Mario|
Anyone who regularly reads this series knows that I am a sucker for X-com esque games aka Turn-Based-Tactical-Strategy games. I didn't always know I loved those games and it wasn't until X-Com 2 that I decided that this genre wasn't just a fluke of me liking it and was for real. This game came out in that window of time when I was still figuring out my feelings of the genre as I played it not too long after I completed X-Com 2. In fact this was the very first switch game I beat and thus my memory of the game is slightly less cohesive as something I just finished.
We are of course talking about the Ubisoft game "Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle," which is a game divided into two sections. The most obvious is when you are in battle, the game is a turn based tactical game where your squad members each have a set number of action points that you then move, shoot, or special your way around before the computer takes their turn. When you are outside of battle, you are doing some light puzzle solving and running around the world looking for chests, switches, and other characters to progress through the story. Mainly you are walking from one battle to the next, but the game is giving you small things to do along the way to make it more engaging.
Since a big majority of this game is participating in the battles, we should probably discuss that upfront. While this game obviously has its roots in other games of the same genre, what UBI and Nintendo did is they freshened up the core loop of the game. Sure, you still have your shoot, move, run, and overwatch equivalent in the game. You still want to try and stay behind full cover instead of half cover, you want to avoid being flanked, and utilize your specials accordingly. These are all things that are universal in nearly every game of this genre, but what they did uniquely is make movement a key component in these fights that can give you an edge in nearly every battle. Characters can run and slide into enemies dealing damage as they pass them to get into a better location. You can run into another one of your own characters who will launch you into the air which can be used to land on an enemy for damage, move you farther then you could run solo, or launch you into another friendly to propel you even farther. Figuring out how to maximize your actions each turn is a puzzle that in early levels will help you wipe the floor with enemies, and in later levels is essentially required in order to win battles. This is not a game where you can win fights by moving one square at a time and relying on overwatch to take care of any baddies.
The game itself also removed one of the big sticking points that I see a lot of people complain about in this genre, and that is the random hit % that X-Com was known for. In Mario +, this is simplified as half cover walls make your chance to hit a 50-50 chance, and full cover makes it a 0% chance. This works both ways (your team and enemies) and while some walls can be destroyed leaving characters with nothing to hide behind, this forces the player and CPU to constantly be on the move. By making movement a priority, battles rarely feel dull because they aren't just straight firefights that rely on RNG, but rather on strategy and out-thinking your opponent.
Each character has their own role in the game and accompanying weapon and skill set. Since you can only take three characters into each battle, this is another piece of the puzzle that can help you get a leg up on the CPU. For instance Luigi is the only character that uses a sniper rifle, making him more useful in locations where he can be on higher ground and farther away from enemies. While Peach uses a shotgun and can heal your team. During the non combat portions of the game, you will be able to explore and find hidden chests that may include weapons, or skill points that can be used to upgrade your characters. This can mean increasing the distance they can travel, doing increased damage, or allowing them to learn a double jump that allows for more mobility. Your playstyle will determine where you think the priorities lie, and if I recall correctly, if you spend your time finding everything in the game, by the last battle you should be either maxed out with all skills, or perhaps have one that is not unlocked. This is not a game where you will be forced to silo your character into either A or B situation.
Outside of battle there really isn't much to dissect here. There are little sliding block puzzles, or switch puzzles that you may have to figure out to move forward but for the most part, these are fairly straightforward and can be finished with ease. The game does reward you for exploring, and while the game is incredibly linear, spending that extra time before crossing into the next battle, can help you find new weapons or upgrade points that can be the difference in a few matches. Each world has its own theme, and I have to commend the UBI team because they nailed what I would expect a Nintendo Mario game to look like aesthetically. The colors are vibrant and bright, the imagery is fun and joking and regardless of how you generally feel about the Rabbids, I think the game is overall very charming to play through.
Of course the game is not without its flaws, but the severity of those depend on exactly how interested you are in the genre. When I was playing, despite having a great time with the game I felt that it overstayed its welcome by the equivalent of one world. I also think the game struggles a little with difficulty balancing. In the beginning of the game, I was very much under the impression that this was low stakes "X-Com for Kids" and while that holds true for the beginning of the game, I found the endgame to have quite a few difficult stages that took me more than one or two attempts before I passed them. The end of the game definitely assumes that you know all the powers you have and can use them effectively to get through stages. Some levels you really have to treat like fights in "Into the Breach," where you have to plan out each move before you hit the action button so that you aren't potentially wasting a turn. I imagine I might feel differently if I played it now, since I have tackled far more games of the same genre, but I can't say for sure. I distinctly remember finishing the game a month of so before the DLC came out, and when it finally dropped I was still a little full from playing it initially that I passed with the intention of going back but never doing so.
Overall I think the game is pretty fun, and definitely a better game then I would have initially thought. It's humor is hit or miss, and easily skews younger with the Rabbids, which can be off putting, but I think the game is upfront about what you are getting ahead of time. Visually the game looks good, and captures the style of a Mario game, and I am willing to bet that if you showed this game to anyone slightly outside of the know, they would think this was an official Nintendo game, and not done by another company. That in itself is a testament to the game, is how seamlessly they pulled that out. The benefit out there for anyone who has not played this game, is that because it is not officially a Nintendo game, that means its price actually goes down, so you can probably pick this game up for around $15 dollars and it is certainly worth it at that price. Typing up my "review" of this game makes me actually want to go back and re-visit it, so I'm off to start the DLC and anxiously await the sequel.
Is this the greatest game of all time?: No, but getting closer then our previous fares.
Where does it rank: Maybe this is a case of absence makes the heart grow fonder, but looking back on this game and thinking about it a year or so after I beat it, makes me think that this game was really good. I might be crazy but I have this as the greatest game of all time. It sits between Katamari Damacy (8th) and Marvel's Spider-man (10th) and if I had to draw comparisons to both those games, it's presentation oozes fun like Katamari and it maybe wears out its welcome like all the side stuff in Spider-man just before the end. This marks the 92nd game reviewed.
1. Streets of Rogue (Switch)
2. Dragon Quest 11: Echoes... (Switch)
3. Moving Out (PS4)
4. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove Edition (Switch)
Anyone looking for it: here is the link to the list and more if you are interested in following along with me (this is not a self promotion). Here. I added links on the spreadsheet for quick navigation. Now if you missed a blog of a game you want to read about, you can get to it quickly, rather than having to scroll through my previous blogs wondering when it came up.
Thanks for Listening.