"Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle" was one of the many surprises in a year full of them on the Nintendo Switch. The strategy game starring the iconic mustachioed hero and Ubisoft's popular creatures recreated the complexity and depth of games such as "XCOM" and made it accessible and fun to newcomers.
Ubisoft Paris offered flexibility to its combat system and introduced a chaotic elements that its Rabbids are known for to upend what players should expect a strategy title. It was masterfully done and one of the best games of the year. So what does the team do for an encore?
They created a massive DLC add-on called "Mario + Rabbids Donkey Kong Adventure." The extra content stars Donkey Kong and his roster of characters. The campaign follows the events after Rabbid Kong's defeat. He was one of the first bosses in the original.
Humiliated by his loss, he punches the Time Washing Machine in frustration and that sets it off. At the same time, Rabbid Peach looking to charge her smartphone plugs it into the contraption and it carries her, Rabbid Kong and his followers into a dangerous new realm.
Upon landing, Rabbid Peach is in danger from the Rabbid natives on the tropical island, and that's when she's rescued by Donkey Kong and Rabbid Cranky. The two help her on her quest to find the parts, so she can repair the Time Washing Machine and get back to her friends. The trio teams up and battle Rabbid Kong, who has found that bad bananas on the island power him up. He also happens to have most of the time machine.
Although Rabbid Peach is the connection to the previous game, it's Donkey Kong who is at the core of the experience. He comes across as a melee-focused character, who also has a boomerang as a backup weapon. The projectile can hit multiple enemies during one turn. That makes him similar to Rabbid Mario, but what separates Donkey Kong from previous heroes is his ability to grab other characters or blocks and toss them around the map.
It gives him and his team a ridiculous amount of maneuverability. He can grab Rabbid Peach and use blue ramps to jump around the area and toss her behind enemy lines. In another scenario, he can unearth a cover block and toss it at sprouting Rabbids to get the jump on them. A third instance can have Donkey Kong grabbing one enemy and tossing it into another, dealing damage to both.
Adding to his abilities are his drums, which can lure enemies out of cover and closer to him so he can perform a ground pound. Donkey Kong also has an overwatch-type of ability called Hairy Eye that automatically fires at foes who move.
Rabbid Cranky acts as a complement to the big ape. He's outfitted with a crossbow that can lob explosives over obstacles to hit enemies. He has also has a secondary attack that fires like a shotgun but with a narrower field. His Stink Eye also acts an overwatch attack while his Long Story puts enemies to sleep. His hidden special ability is a downward ice blast that activates whenever Donkey Kong tosses him across the field.
Rabbid Peach acts as the traditional healer with her shield as a secondary technique while her blaster and enemy-seeking sentries are her offensive tools. She's essential to keeping the squad alive against Rabbids who have also evolved.One of those is the Collector, which grabs washing machine pieces and runs whenever it is hit. The other enemy I came across is the Garden Smasher-variety, which lumbers toward squadmates and attacks when close enough.
From what I demoed, "Mario Rabbids Donkey Kong Adventure" offers a new take on the strategy formula. With Donkey Kong as the linchpin, it offers players new strategies and fresh ways to play. They can plan out double Stink and Hairy eye attacks or Donkey Kong can ball up a foe and toss it, activating an overwatch ability. There's a lot to experiment with in a DLC add-on that adds about 10 more hours of content to an already great game.
Expect the DLC to come out later this year.
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