As its sequel looms, the crossover tactics hit Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is currently free on Nintendo Switch. It’s available to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers through July 12, Nintendo announced this week.
If you haven’t played Kingdom Battle yet, you’re missing out on one of the best tactical games for Nintendo’s hybrid console. First released in 2017, the game is a joint production with Ubisoft, and marries Nintendo’s biggest mascots (Mario and friends) with Ubisoft’s smallest (a bunch of mostly toothless rabbits).
Though it was mocked before release for being a phoned-in crossover, Kingdom Battle turned out to be a savvy grid-based strategy game in the vein of XCOM…except, instead of extraterrestrial threats, you had warp pipes and bright colours. It was also a delightful homage to one of the biggest franchises in gaming history. From Kotaku’s review: “Almost everything in the game is a reference to something in the wider Mario universe, from the music to the weapons to the enemies. Somehow, none of it feels forced.”
This October, Ubisoft and Nintendo will release a sequel, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, for the Switch. Sparks of Hope will maintain what made its predecessor so great while also introducing a few core changes. For one thing, it’s doing away with a grid-based system entirely, which should allow for freer movement. Early gameplay footage also indicates you’ll no longer need to keep Mario on your team either, addressing a sore sticking point for fans of the first game.
A week probably isn’t enough time to play through all of Kingdom Battle, even for the most devoted players. The howlongtobeat.com database pegs an average run at about 27 hours and a completionist one at 46 hours. There’s also the matter that Kingdom Battle is only free to those who’ve signed up for Nintendo’s $US20 ($28)/a year Nintendo Switch Online service. But hey, that’s what seven-day trials are for.