Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Most Nintendo first party titles are crafted with accessibility in mind. Super Mario 3D World, Pokemon Sun & Moon, and Splatoon 2 each hide complex and challenging gameplay behind walls so casual players can walk leisurely through the main game. Even Fire Emblem, once accessible only to hardcore tactics fans, introduced a casual mode to open its doors to casual players. When Ubisoft developed Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, a tactics game featuring Mario and Rayman’s rabbids, the development team clearly considered this Nintendo standard.

The game’s basic mechanics, moving, attacking, and activating specials, are all very easy to understand from the moment the game begins. Even as players unlock more skills, Kingdom Battle rarely feels intimidating to approach. Although difficulty spikes and frustrating UI occasionally make the journey more complicated than it needs to be, the way Ubisoft manages to blend difficulty and accessibility harkens back to the Nintendo of the 1990s.

On the surface, Kingdom Battle welcomes young and inexperienced players through its personality. The overall tone actively undercuts whatever level of nervousness players have about tactics games. Mario and the Rabbids explore four worlds in a colorful Mushroom Kingdom loaded with childish comedy. In the first hour of the game, players will find a Banzai Bill trapped in a pair of underwear just outside of Peach’s castle, Rabbids gleefully jumping on a sponge used for undisclosed jobs, and goomba’s trapped on their backs in honey. These sights may seem silly to some, but they actually go a long way towards making the game feel accessible to a broader demographic.

All of that paint, the music, overworld, and puzzles, does a superb job of masking the fact that Kingdom Battle can be frustratingly hard. Even in combat, the game manages to feel simple while pushing players to become better at the game.

When the game begins, all Mario and his two Rabbid companions can do is move and attack. Both of these options aren’t hard to grasp, and while a few more maneuvers get added to the mix, they basically make up the entirety of the gameplay. Once every ability is unlocked, players still only have five tools they can use each turn: Main weapon, secondary weapon, movement, special skill 1 and special skill 2. As the game progresses, it challenges players to use these options in creative ways but never throws in new skills for the characters to learn. Stages instead offer different enemies and obstacles that force the heroes to use what they already have in creative ways.