How Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle Spices Up Tactics With Chaos

  • Switch
  • Platformer
  • Strategy
mario rabbids combat sherbet desert
Mario and friends tackle a whole new genre: turn-based tactics. Find out how in our interview with Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle director Davide Soliani. (c) Ubisoft, Nintendo

Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle marries the frenetic energy of Raving Rabbids with the vibrant and colorful world of Super Mario. But unlike either game, Mario+Rabbids takes a turn into what many consider a niche genre: turn-based tactics, as represented by games like Fire Emblem , XCOM and Final Fantasy Tactics. Creative Director Davide Soliani spoke with Player.One about how Mario+Rabbids refreshes the genre while keeping a firm grasp on that ineffable Nintendo magic.

One of the first aspects of turn-based tactics the Mario+Rabbids team looked at was the movement phase. “We wanted to give the player something solid to rely on, such as being able to take cover and feel safe, but at the same time, we wanted a true and strong mechanism to help the player moving in the battleground,” said Soliani. “So we have an area of movement, but we didn't want, like many other tactical games, to rely on the movement area just for the sake of moving. We wanted truly to give to this phase, which is common to many other tactical games, something that would create strategy on its own.”

That’s why the characters of Mario+Rabbids can perform several moves during the movement phase, such as “Dash” and “Team Jump.” Players can select up to four enemies (depending on the character and their skill upgrades) within their area of movement and hit them for free damage on the way to cover. Players can also select their own teammates to perform a “Team Jump” that expands their area of movement, allowing them to reach areas that might otherwise have taken an extra turn or two.

Mario+Rabbids doesn’t force players into separate movement and action phases. Instead, players can choose to use special abilities, shoot, or move around the battlefield in any order. “Your abilities and the way you can use them and when you can use them is entirely up to the player, so players will have their own strategy, their own tactics depending on their playstyle,” said Soliani. “They will use the skill tree and power up what they want.”

The skill trees in Mario+Rabbids help refine each character’s potential. You can’t build glass cannon Luigi into a beefy brawler like Rabbid Mario, but you can upgrade his special abilities to make him the very best long-range sniper he can be. (Pro-tip: when Steely Stare is fully upgraded and its damage maxed out, you can one-shot almost any enemy in the game as long as they stir a single toe within Luigi’s line of sight. And it’s very satisfying.)

Soliani’s team also sought to refresh tactics-based gameplay in Mario+Rabbid by adding Super Effects, special effects that have a percentage chance to trigger based on the weapon or ability in play. Super Effects include Honey, Burn, Push, Bounce and Vamp, all of which are strategically useful as well as rewarding to watch.

“The Super Effects are very Rabbid-oriented. The game is truly solid. The players can rely on the rules of the combat system. But at the same time, we wanted something to spice up the combat,” said Soliani.

Soliani said his team was inspired by the dynamism of Mario Kart , a game where skill is rewarded but even a player in last place has a chance to come from behind with a lucky item draw. “In our game, you have weapons but they are not there just to deal damage. You can plug in Super Effects and create some unpredictable situations and humor,” said Soliani.

Soliani gave an example of the Rabbid-infused chaos Super Effects can cause: “You can Burn the bottom of one of the enemy who will start to scream all over the battleground, and because there is propagation, if the guy touches another unit they will all start to scream with their bottoms on fire throughout the battlefield, and if they move inside the area of sight of a character such as Mario, he will react with Hero Sight and will shoot the guy. Maybe you'll have a new Super Effect like Bounce, which hits the enemy and makes him fly in the air, and at some point, something else will happen,” he explained.

“So it was the idea to offer the player something really reliable, but at the same time, have a small percentage of unpredictability to surprise them.”

A battle camera that shows off all the charming little details of battlefield animation deepens the distinctive look and feel of combat in Mario+Rabbids . “We have more than 1,200 animations per character just for the combat, and we have eight heroes that you can play with,” said Soliani. “You can imagine that the animation was a big package in term of our work.”

That’s why a fluid camera was important: to help players feel like they were really in combat with the characters and to help the characters come to life by showcasing all those animations.  “The camera angle… really removed that feeling of always looking battle scene from above,” said Soliani.

By adding Super Effects, making the movement phase more dynamic and using the camera to showcase their battle animation, Soliani said he hoped to “create those unpredictable moments that I think, in a small percentage, every game should have to really create something surprising… What we did in our game is always try to find something crazy.”

How do you feel about the tactics-based gameplay of Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle ? Did you enjoy your time jumping on enemies and bouncing through the Rabbidized Mushroom Kingdom? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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