Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle: How Devs Designed Cute, Feisty Fighters

  • Switch
  • Platformer
  • Strategy
The princesses make their debut!
The princesses make their debut! (c) Ubisoft, Nintendo

When the concept slides for Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle first leaked, many Internet commenters treated it as a desecration. Nintendo’s crown jewel married to some low-grade Minions-esque spin-off? But after an endearing showing at E3 2017 and a very successful launch on Aug. 29, it’s fair to say that Ubisoft Creative Director Davide Soliani and his team have achieved the impossible: making Rabbids lovable and staying true to Nintendo’s spirit.

Part of that success comes from making the Rabbids into loving tributes to their Nintendo progenitors. Kingdom Battle features Mario, Peach, Yoshi and Luigi, but also features their Rabbidized counterparts as well. You must field at least one Rabbid in each team, so you’ll get to know these little guys very well indeed.

“We didn't want to create a copycat of their counterparts. We wanted to create characters that would remind of the Nintendo one, but exaggerated,” said Soliani. “That's why Rabbid Luigi is a guy that loves mysterious stuff, because you know Luigi, he has a game by himself, Luigi’s Mansion. That's why Rabbid Luigi loves wizard stuff, but he's also very easy to scare. But also cute. Pure. And goofy, a little bit. A little bit like Luigi.”

By taking the iconic Nintendo characters foremost traits and giving them a humorous spin, the Rabbid parodies feel good-natured. It helps that you spend so much time with the Rabbids, rooting for their shots to connect and learning the best way to deploy their suite of abilities. Rabbid Peach, the selfie-taking scene-stealer whose healing abilities and deployable sentries are indispensable, is a perfect example.

“We wanted to exaggerate her personality so she is kind of sassy, not scared at all. She pretends to be the real princess of the castle,” said Solliani. “That's why when she meets for the first time the true Peach, she's not super happy, but at the end there is a very good relationship between them.”

Soliani’s team decided the strategic role of each character based on their personality instead of retrofitting the character’s abilities to suit arbitrary roles. For example, Luigi’s personality made him especially well-suited for a ranged, sniper type of role.

“He doesn't want to be in the center of the action because he's a kind of scared guy. But at the same time, he is a very powerful character in our game because he can easily move where he wants to with Itchy Feet. He can almost double his area of movement, he can double Team Jump and he can shoot from a ranged position, so truly, he's a powerful character. But the fact that he's ranged is reflecting the fact that he doesn't want to stay in the middle of the action,” Soliani explained.

Similarly, Rabbid Mario exaggerates Mario’s heroic tendencies, so making him a front-line brawler makes sense. A shield protects him from damage and his shotgun’s cone of damage takes down multiple enemies at once. Mario himself is a jack-of-all trades evenly balanced between offense and defense, with a suite of abilities well-suited to his role as main man.

“We needed to be sure that the leader was not too powerful compared to the others, but at the same time, not weak. First of all because it's Mario, and also because he's the leader of the pack,” said Soliani.

You’ve gotta respect Mario, after all. Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle launched on Aug. 29 for the Nintendo Switch with a Metacritic score of 85%, or “generally favorable” reviews.

Have you played yet? Who’s your favorite Rabbid? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
A Triumph Of Fun, Wonder And Whimsy
Some of the most fun you’ll have this year. A must-have for tactics fans, Mario fans and those curious to see how the Rabbids play in the Super Mario sandbox.
  • Rabbids are bwaaaahdorable
  • Mario and Mushroom Kingdom feel authentic
  • Vibrant, colorful worlds
  • Incredible soundtrack
  • Challenging yet accessible combat
  • Lots of collectibles
  • Filled with charm and good humor down to the smallest detail
  • Fixed camera happens too often
  • Box sliding puzzles can get tedious
  • Movement controls are fussy
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