Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle Review

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Mario and Rabbids together at last. In an XCOM styled game as well. What a pleasant and bizarre surprise announcement that was. I was immediately curious and seeing it was well received, I had every intention to pick it up. But since it was an Ubisoft game, I chose to bide my time and await a sale.

There were only four kingdoms in the Ubisoft strategy title but I was ready for the credits heading into the fire kingdom. I thoroughly enjoy the battles for their inventive situations, gimmicks, and boss battles. But everything else in-between said battles became a chore. 

It was initially charming to roam around these worlds checking out the random hijinx the other Rabbids were up to. I even enjoyed the simple puzzles and light exploration at first. All these innocuous activities wore out their welcome through repetition and lack of diversity. They could have made it worthwhile by including worthwhile treasures but instead I picked up a lot of artwork that will go untouched.

I felt Mario + Rabbids had a very solid gameplay foundation. The simplified take on turn-based strategy worked very well and it didn’t result in me uttering curses because a high percentage shot missed. Having 0%, 50%, and 100% be the only three shot percentages made for a quicker paced game. The combination play between the different characters was unique and sparked the desire for strategic thinking. I wasn’t particularly keen on the restrictions of a Rabbid party member at first but after spending some time with them, their silly personalities won me over. 

Without taking into account turn restrictions, Mario + Rabbids is an extremely easy game. However, adding turn limits into the equation gave this game a puzzle element. It became a game of ability examinations, build combos, and efficient movement. Unfortunately for me, I decided to go for the high marks and restarted the battle any time I took a misstep. I tried to run through every battle as efficiently as possible which resulted with me restarting battles over and over again. I focused on the high marks to a fault and willingly interrupted the flow of the game repeatedly.

To my pleasant surprise, the Rabbids were fun. Peach Rabbid and the rest of the Rabbid variants brought quirky fun to the classic Nintendo characters that we wouldn’t have ever seen from Nintendo proper. I was also pleasantly surprised by the the aesthetics. That Snowdrop Engine produced some very impressive visuals for the Nintendo Switch. I would have liked to see it run at 60FPS for the “running around” moments but seeing how simplistic those parts were, it wasn’t a deal breaker.

I was far more impressed with the musical score brought in by the the great Grant Kirkhope. It’s very him and it didn’t take me long to realize that he was bringing his iconic touch to this game. I distinctly recall thinking: “This music is far too good for your typical Ubisoft title. It reminds me of Donkey Kong Country.”

Whoever came up with the idea of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was a genius. But whoever managed to successfully pitch this idea to Nintendo was the true hero of Ubisoft because I cannot believe Nintendo green lit this unorthodox pairing. I guess all the Red Steels and ZombiUs of the last decade or so finally paid off. Some issues aside, I felt Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was a success and I look forward to the next iteration of this unlikely collaboration. 

Verdict:
I liked it

Ratings Guide

 

Super Mario Odyssey Review

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Super Mario Galaxy is my favorite 3D Mario game and continues to be number one in my books. There was a sense of wonder and amazement when I played the Wii title for the first time that I just didn’t feel when I played Super Mario Odyssey.

With that out of the way: Super Mario Odyssey is a fantastic game.

Cappy was a wondrous gimmick that allowed for a lot of novel shenanigans to be had. Capturing (possessing) a T-Rex was amusing but I found the mechanics surrounding other enemies such as the Pokio and its ability to fling itself with its beak offered far more interesting gameplay challenges. Capturing different enemies offered a nice variety but I extracted the most joy out of using Mario’s core move set. I loved Mario’s ability to throw Cappy and hop on him. It expanded Mario’s core mobility options for the first time since Super Mario Sunshine and I appreciated it. I finally understand why a subset of the Mario audience didn’t like the reduction of moves in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D World.

Odyssey was visually intriguing but inconsistent and, in some cases, a bit of a let down. Mario has never looked better but I felt some Kingdoms like the Luncheon Kingdom were too safe. I loved the Metro Kingdom, Seaside Kingdom and a vast majority of other Kingdoms on offer but I was disappointed when I landed Luncheon only to discover pink goo and blocky vegetables strewn about. Rayman Origins pulled off that concept with superior pizzazz and craft. Odyssey was at its best when they leaned heavily into the theme of the Kingdoms. Luncheon stood out as a disappointment because it felt very static and capturing Hammer Bros. and Fireballs wore out their welcome quick. Also who thought talking cutlery was a good idea? Weird properly dressed humans, French beret wearing snails, and robots were more to my liking.

Aesthetics aside, many Kingdoms were dense with gameplay opportunities. A lot of it involved clever use of Cappy’s abilities, platforming and/or experimentation. Some of my favorite challenges involved racing other Koopa Troopers across the kingdom or figuring out how to reach certain spots to collect purple coins or Moons. I felt the races in particular allowed for creativity and tested gameplay knowledge very well. My only wish was for more Moons to feel this rewarding.

By littering collectible Moons everywhere, Nintendo cheapened their rewards. Collecting Stars in Super Mario Galaxy felt rewarding. There were less than stellar challenges and activities but at least I did more than look into a small nook for one. In Super Mario Odyssey, I was rewarded for the most mundane actions; I couldn’t walk into a cave without expecting to find a Moon. In some ways, it was like Nintendo’s commentary on positive feedback loop in modern games. “No matter what you did. Here’s a reward.”

While it’s a bit odd to see them cheapen Moons, I was amused by how they managed to make gold coins matter again. Traditionally used to gain additional 1UPs, the coin seemed like a relic of the past. In Odyssey, I redeemed coins for costumes, additional health, and Moons. With death being nothing more than a minor inconvenience in modern Mario games, this was a welcomed evolution.

Minor quibbles aside, Super Mario Odyssey will live on as one of the great games of 2017. Every time I picked up the game, I found something fun to do. I even found myself humming a few of the game’s excellent tracks to myself already. It’s a celebration of all things Mario and while it didn’t dislodge Super Mario Galaxy from top spot, there’s still a ton of fun to be had here.

Verdict
I love it

Ratings Guide

Checkpoint: Odyssey Into Christmas Edition

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here. Christmas injected itself into my house in the form of a fancy tree. Learned how to change tires. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales came and went. And plenty of Super Mario Odyssey was played.

Changing Tires

I decided to learn how to change my tires. It seemed like an easy and useful skill to learn and it yields a couple of benefits including saving time and money. I bought the tools and equipment several months ago and finally put them all to use earlier this month. It was surprisingly easy! I’m not nearly as fast as other people but with enough time and practice, I’m sure I can swap out tires in no time.

Here’s a list of the equipment and notes that I found useful.

The Jack

  • I purchased a 2 ton hydraulic jack and while it works, I would buy a 3 ton one if I had to do it all over again. I’m told a 3 ton jack is a bit more stable and even easier to lift a vehicle with.
  • Convert everything to kilograms to make sure your jack can support your vehicle. Or just buy a 3 ton one that should support it.

Impact Driver & Bits

  • Only used to remove bolts. It’s a nice luxury to have but not really necessary. It’s recommended that I tighten bolts with a torque wrench.
  • The bits can also be helpful when hand screwing the nuts in.

Breaker Bar

  • I bought one for $10 but I didn’t need it because all my bolts came out without a fuss.

Torque Wrench

  • I thought I didn’t need one because of the impact driver but now I have to pick one up for myself.
  • Screw in nuts and bolts in a star pattern!

Work Gloves

  • I need some nice gloves to keep my delicate digits from getting dirty.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales

My haul this year is rather light and a bit weird:

  • Torque wrench
  • Vitamix 750
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
  • Electric toothbrush

The big takeaway from Black Friday & Cyber Monday was what my girlfriend did for me. She went into my Google Sheets that I used and included a handful of extremely useful automation formulas. It impressed the hell out of me! I had considered looking into automating more of it but I just never got around to sitting down and spending the time on that part of the deal posting process. It was greatly appreciated!

Christmas Is Here

It wasn’t even American Thanksgiving yet and the girlfriend already had us putting up a tree. She loves Christmas and all its trappings whereas I enjoy this time of year for the time off. It’s a very nice tree and she did a marvelous job picking out the ornaments and lights. It’s just unfortunate that she won’t be around for most of December to enjoy it.

Half Way Through The Odyssey

I watched the credits roll on Super Mario Odyssey but as with other Mario games, it’s not really the end yet. There’s just so many more Moons to uncover and collect. I think this is where the game truly begins as the challenges and other tricks unfurl.

Game of the Year 2015 Day 1 of 3

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2015 will go down as one of the better years in video games. I actually struggled to trim down my top 10 and nominees across all my categories.

Today’s categories feature two Nintendo titles that I didn’t spend enough time with despite the fact they’re in my wheelhouse.

The 2015 Game I Wish I Bought & Played In 2015

Winner: Splatoon

Splatoon Box Art

Nintendo’s third person shooter made waves with its unique and innovative approach to the genre. It looked interesting every time I laid eyes on it but as soon as I glanced at the price of $69.99, I was immediately turned off. The early criticisms concerning the lack of content fell by the wayside thanks to Nintendo’s continued support with free maps, weapons and modes.

I should have pre-ordered it with Amazon.ca’s E3 promotional discount but hindsight is 20/20.

Runner ups: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Until Dawn

 

The 2015 Game I Wish I Spent More Time With

Winner: Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker Box Art

Super Mario Maker should be an endless supply of platforming fun and I should have been tackling course after course but I haven’t. I played several of the pre-made levels and sampled a number of user created ones. I even made and uploaded a level but I haven’t played nearly enough to even give it a an honest review. As silly as it may sound, I think I would have played it more if I bought it digitally.

As for the other nominees? I spent a solid month or so playing Rocket League but it fizzled away as soon as the third quarter approached. Psyonix continued to support it with paid cosmetic items and free gameplay content but I never found the opportunity to revisit it despite my intentions.

It may seem a little silly to nominate The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in this category but I really wanted to play the expansion DLC.

Runner ups: Rocket League, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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