Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is one of the most unusual crossovers in recent memory, but is also one of the most successful.
Not only does Mario + Rabbids introduce the Italian plumber to turn-based strategy for the very first time, it made the Rabbids relevant all over again.
On paper, the concept was laughed at and ridiculed, but in action it has become one of the must-own games on Switch.
And with the brand new Donkey Kong Adventure DLC, it seems as if Ubisoft have some very exciting plans for the future.
There’s going to be more?
Nothing has been confirmed but this certainly points us to a future which might explore other recognisable Nintendo mascots with a Rabbids flare. And based on Donkey Kong Adventure that would be marvellous.
This is a DLC that offers more of what made the original game great but adds some fun new gameplay additions to really spice up the formula, all present in various familiar, beautifully designed environments.
The story follows the events of World 1 in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle where players faced off against Rabbid Kong as he subsequently took a tumble amidst a series of embarrassing selfies with Rabbid Peach.
Ashamed, Rabbid Kong has now chosen to visit the island of Donkey Kong to take out his frustrations. And, as fate would have it, see him once again encounter Rabbid Peach who has wound up in a time-travelling washing machine that transports her to the Donkey Kong Country. Why? Well, she kind of figured it was the smartest place to charge her phone. As it turns out, that wasn’t smart at all.
Fortunately, she’s saved by DK and Rabbid Cranky from a horde of angry onlookers. Donkey Kong isn’t a fan of the Rabbids trespassing on his turf so the game quickly leaps from the narrative into the action. And that is all too familiar with game staples such as using cover to stay out of line of sight and climbing to mountain tops to gain a tactical height advantage.
The differences come, first of all, in the actions of the characters. For starters, Donkey Kong can swing between DK platforms to quickly get from one side of the battlefield to the other. This injects more pace into the action by ensuring less wasted movement but also makes it easier to use the full width of the map during battle.
As for attack, DK uses a banana as a boomerang which can hit multiple enemies stood close together. Over time, however, this can be upgraded to a heavy red phone which can also burn enemies, as well as a parrot and even a hot dog!
DK can also act like a tank and draw enemies close to him by using his infamous bongos, then use a ground smash which hits any surrounding enemies multiple times before pushing them backwards.
Oh, and DK can also pick up and throw pretty much anything on the map, including his teammates. This helps him throw teammates into better positions or directly into the face of enemies. However, he can also pick up enemies and lob them out of bounds, as well as destructive blocks and boxes which can blow up in their face. Wonderful!
Frankly, Donkey Kong is easily the best character in the game, but he’s almost so overpowered that, once you get to grips with him, you’ll find yourself sailing through each stage with relative ease.
It absolutely is, and with Rabbid Peach and Cranky in the mix as well, things just kick into another gear.
The angry old Rabbid can bore his enemies to sleep with a long, regaling tale or blast them to smithereens with a long-reaching vampiric crossbow. Up close, he’s also not afraid to smash a Rabbid upside the head with his cane.
Meanwhile, Peach keeps doing Peach things with her conventional shoot, heal and bubble motions, playing exactly as she did in the base game.
And you’re going to need to get comfortable with these three because there is no rotation with the rest of the characters in the Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle roster. Possibly to the content’s weakness.
As great as these characters are, it is a bit disappointing you can’t mix things up even further with the new blood. And sadly, the two new characters also aren’t available in the base game which feels like a little bit of a missed opportunity. Especially as some of those missions can get really tough and it would be great to have DK butt some heads together.
The thing is, the levels in Donkey Kong Adventure are designed in such a way that it does fundamentally change the way Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is played. Using the old maps would really restrict DK’s movement and that’s such a big part of what makes him great.
It’s not the end of the world, though, as there’s a lot of content to get through in Donkey Kong Adventure. You’ll need to collect 20 different jigsaw pieces to open a secret door, as well as find lots of hidden extras through unique puzzles which then open up unlockables in the hub-like Atoll, like 3D models and musical scores.
And, of course, the characters all have skill trees and different primary and secondary weapons to choose from. So you can customise their capabilities throughout the content, all serviced by collecting bananas which act as the currency for the DLC.
Throughout each of the game’s four main areas, there’s a real feeling you’re still playing Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle but in a natural theme for the tie wearing chest-beater. Just as Ubisoft France showed care and consideration when crafting the original game, Donkey Kong Adventure throws out plenty of nods and references to Retro Studios recent games, and indeed, the history of the franchise.
Areas might seem familiar to those who recently played Tropical Freeze, but the use of Bongos also elicits those Donkey Konga memories and Cranky ranting and raving also brings everything home with the original Donkey Kong Country games.
Donkey Kong Adventure offers so much new content to sink your teeth into that you’ll forget the amount of time that’s past. It’s well worth the price of the games’ Season Pass alone and is a DLC that proves the success of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was no fluke.
Without doubt, one of the most polished, entertaining expansions of the year.
+ Donkey Kong is the best character in the game
+ Lots of new content to explore
+ Fun story and unique puzzle solving
+ Aesthetic is perfect
– Limited to the same three characters throughout
– Can’t bring Kong and Cranky into the main game
– DK feels a bit overpowered making things a little easy at times
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure DLC Review
8.5 out of 10
Tested on Switch
Code provided by the publisher