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Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release Date: Aug. 29, 2017


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Switch Review - 'Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle' Donkey Kong Adventures DLC

by Cody Medellin on July 17, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is the story of an unexpected encounter between the most famous video game character, Mario, and the irreverent and chaotic Rabbids as they join forces to restore the Mushroom Kingdom, which has been torn apart by a mysterious vortex.

Buy Mario & Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was a crossover that no one initially wanted. Mario games have almost always been very solid affairs, while the Rabbids were associated with bad juvenile humor, minigames, and babbling and screaming. Once the game was revealed and people got their hands on it, they found an excellent game that put Mario and his friends in a turn-based strategy title and also made the Rabbids likeable. Thanks to the presence of a season pass at the game's launch, we knew that some story content was coming, and now we have it with Donkey Kong Adventure.

Much like the main game, the story for the expansion is just as odd. After his defeat as the first major boss of the game, Rabbid Kong is in a depressed state. As the other Rabbids try to cheer him up, he gets zapped by the washing machine and sucked into it. Before he and his fellow Rabbids can make it anywhere, Rabbid Peach comes by and tries to plug in her phone to the machine's electrical socket to recharge it. She does so just at the moment when the machine gets whisked away, taking Rabbid Peach, Rabbid Kong, his minions, and Beep-O to a new dimension that's modeled after the Donkey Kong Country series.

While Rabbid Peach meets up with Donkey Kong and Rabbid Cranky, Rabbid Kong lands in a mystical pool, where his power grows much stronger. Since the washing machine is their only means to return to the Mushroom Kingdom, the heroes traverse DK Country, collecting parts of the broken machine and hoping to reach the device before Rabbid Kong becomes even more terrible.

The good news is that you don't need to beat the game to access this piece of DLC. You do have to beat the first world, since it makes sense within the context of the expansion's storyline. The bad news is that while you'll take Rabbid Peach with you in this adventure, none of her improvements and gear come along. She plays exactly the same as before, but you have to start her from scratch.

The core mechanics only get a few cosmetic changes. For example, coins have been replaced with bananas, and both the enemies and gear you buy are Donkey Kong-themed. Beyond that, the game leaves the strategy and puzzle mechanics alone, which is fine since the original formula worked very well. The game provides a good balance between puzzle-solving and fighting, so it never feels like one aspect is overpowering the other.

The battles have some real variety in their objectives, so some of the things you'll do include defeating all enemies in the match, destroying corrupted banana stashes, defending a spot, or collecting certain items. The enemy roster also remains the same, and while it would have been nice to encounter new foes aside from the bosses, it fits within the context of the storyline. At the very least, the expansion is lengthy and you'll complete it in around six hours, depending on whether you give yourself bonus health at the beginning of a match.

The DLC's appeal is going to come from the ability to play as both Rabbid Cranky and Donkey Kong, both of whom play very differently from the other characters in the main campaign. Rabbid Peach plays the same way that she did before, so you'll use her more for healing and defense. Interestingly, the game makes things easier than before, as your party is fully healed between matches, so you'll never run into a situation where you start battles and have to immediately fill up everyone's HP meters.

For many players, Rabbid Cranky is going to be a big offensive threat. His cane crossbow acts like a shotgun, and his bombs can travel quite a distance, so he's good for causing damage over wide areas. The crossbow also comes into play when he leaps from another party member and shoots in the middle of the leap. Additionally, he has the sentry ability, so he can add an extra attack against anyone moving within his range. He can also make all enemies within his range go to sleep, making him a perfect closer for your turn.

Donkey Kong actually isn't the offensive powerhouse you'd think he would be, but he's a game-changer in a few other ways. When he slaps the ground, it gives off a nice amount of damage, but the enemy has to be fairly close for this to occur. DK's banana is his gun replacement, but it's a powerful weapon as it acts like a makeshift non-returning boomerang, hitting enemies in succession based on a somewhat random arc. He also has the sentry ability, but he has an attract ability with his bongos that most player will use due to his natural role as a tank. Despite that natural role, he has much more mobility thanks to his ability to use dandelions in some fights to swing from area to area without losing movement spaces.

All of that pales in comparison to his ability to pick up and throw just about anything in the environment. You have to get used to the movement order, as he has to target an object and move to a spot before he can initiate the throw, but that throwing ability is powerful. He can pick up allies and throw them to a new spot, a move that doubles as a cure for ailments since he can't bounce on people like the others can. He can pick up enemies and even uproot Rabbids that have yet to fully sprout. More impressive is the fact that he can pick up blocks of any type, giving him an extra attack since he can't perform a slide kick. It makes it much easier for him to inflict special damage on enemies, like getting a vampire placed on them or getting stuck with honey.

As great as the new characters are to play with, they highlight the DLC's biggest flaw: the inability to customize your party. Throughout all four worlds, you only get to play as this trio of characters. Part of the fun of any strategy game is mixing and matching your perfect combination for a given situation, and with that option removed, some players may get bored with the configuration before the end of the DLC campaign.

You're not going to see anything different from the presentation as far as technical improvements go. The game still runs at the same frame rate, with a few hitches here and there, but it also does a good job of showing off what the Switch can do graphically. The game nails down the Donkey Kong Country vibes in the environments, and the silly antics of the Rabbids still fit well. The audio is also spot-on, as it retains the vibe from the older games, showing that Ubisoft knows how to handle Nintendo franchises.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure is a very well done side story to the main game. Everything that made the base game so enjoyable is practically unchanged here, while the new characters make the game a blast to play for those who have already beaten the main campaign. It would've been nice to change out characters, and it also would've been neat to see Rabbid Peach's progress carry over between campaigns, but fans of the original should pick up this DLC.

Score: 8.0/10

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