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Yahtzee reviews Mario + Rabbids.

Transcript Edit

Nintendo, what the steaming, cross-eyed fuck is this? I'm still trying to get my head around it: a crossover between Mario and Raving Rabbids using turn-based XCOM-style combat? What is this, a fucking Mad Lib? Or did someone lose a bet? If only you'd won the beer pong tournament at the last game dev party, Sony would have had to develop a city-management sim starring Crash Bandicoot and Pyramid Head?

Look, I'm not ragging on you for doing something unexpected; I applaud that. If you only ever gave people what they asked for, every game would be an identical fucking multiplayer hero shooter with a range of unlockable nipple tassels. But when you set out to partner up with Ubisoft, was Raving Rabbids honestly the best option to cross over with Mario? I mean, the Assassin's Creed series is also frequently based around jumping on people and already has a bunch of comedy Italians in it. Tell me you couldn't picture it: Mario in a little Assassin robe, jamming a wrist spike into an unsuspecting Koopa Troopa to make coins fly out.

My point is, when was the last time Raving Rabbids was raving relevant? They haven't had a non-iOS game in years, since those Minion things ripped off their entire shtick, and it was never much of a shtick to begin with, was it? They look funny and run around hurting themselves while making high-pitched mouth noises in a startlingly insensitive depiction of the mentally subnormal that wasn't particularly funny when the first medieval court jester did it, but three-year-olds and the inbred kings of 11th-century Europe dutifully laughed and clapped their hands, and so such things persist.

My point is, Rabbids are complete non-characters, but here they are, sharing equal billing with motherfucking Mario! That's like a political marriage between the prince of Denmark and the daughter of an up-and-coming sausage manufacturer. And then I guess you hold the wedding in the fucking Sea of Tranquility, because neither Mario or Rabbids have ever been associated with strategic gun-battling, and more to the point, three-year-olds and inbred monarchs probably wouldn't have the patience for it. Well, let's not spend five minutes boggling at the premise alone; the execution has lumbered up and rested its deformed skull on my workstation, and now it's up to me to tell it if it's ever going to be a real boy.

The intro spent just a bit too much time establishing the incredibly contrived series of events leading up to the crossover, so I'm assuming Ubisoft had the larger hand in that side of things; if it had been left to Nintendo, it would have been "Mario and Rabbids meet in a field, Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach, and here's some horrible motion controls we're not going to let you turn off". Basically, someone invents a device that combines two things into one thing, Rabbids randomly show up and nick it, and the lab is, for some reason, full of Mario action figures. And for this reason, they all get teleported to the Mushroom Kingdom, where Mario and Princess Peach are going through the tense motions of yet another day of meaningless royal ceremony and passionless pity sex. Mario and chums must then restore order by murdering all the unwanted foreign immigrants with the aid of some Rabbids who have dressed up like Mushroom Kingdom residents to show their willingness to collaborate with the Peach administration's genocidal atrocities. And everyone gets a gun, somehow.

I warned you it was contrived! You may notice that at no point did I mention Princess Peach getting kidnapped, because this is one of those rare occasions when she gets to be a party member with some appropriately twee skill, like group healing, or umbrella floating, or in this case, wielding a giant, explosive close-range death cannon. Somebody asked me during the week if the Rabbids actually add anything or if it might as well have just been a Mario game. Well, they do if you are one of those people who find it eternally amusing when someone's eyes are far apart and they go "Bwah!" a lot and are no longer allowed in the Down syndrome center.

But the same question seems to have haunted the developers; there are eight playable squad members - Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, and Rabbid equivalents of each - and only three to a squad, so what if the player only uses Mario, Luigi, and Peach the whole game? It wouldn't be "Mario + Rabbids" at all, then; it would just be Mario murdering Rabbids, and we've been skating on thin ice with the racism thing ever since we gave Mario an outrageous comedy Italian accent, so the game flat-out forces you to put at least one Rabbid character in your party. No explanation is offered; the game just grays out all the home team Mushroom Kingdom lads if you've already got two. So if you want to team Luigi's long-range focus with Peach's short-range superiority, then you can eat feces fettuccine, my friend. This might be the first example of a gameplay mechanic introduced solely for the sake of the contractual obligations of its characters.

But let's take that initial question a step further, matey: does it being a Mario game actually add anything? That business with giving Princess Peach a giant shotgun implies that it is basically just an XCOM combat engine with Mario art assets stretched over it, like a lunchbox or a children's bedspread, for Mario is now merely a brand, a Windows desktop theme. And if adding Bayonetta to Smash Bros. didn't already tip you off to this, today's Nintendo demands integrity and consistency only of its quarterly income. But none of that should get in the way of your enjoyment of the gameplay, which should appeal to anyone who ever watched their last surviving XCOM squad member hold a shotgun six inches from the face of an alien berserker the size of the cliffs of Dover and somehow miss. Here, it's nicely straightforward: if they're in range and out of cover, and you haven't mistaken your gun for a giant, uncomfortable suppository, then you're guaranteed to hit, and the Warp Pipes and jumping abilities give a full range of ways to get into position; you're not stuck creeping your squad forward bit by bit, slamming on "Overwatch" like it's the snooze button.

But as much as I appreciate the simplifications, I'm on the record as enjoying XCOM combat, and by the end of this sentence, will be on the record as not enjoying this very much. The difficulty gets annoying after a while, possibly because we unlock new, better weapon upgrades with each victory, but I couldn't always afford them, so there's a subtle obligation to grind, as well as some very unsubtle ones, like when your path is blocked by a huge, sexually aggressive panda and the game goes, "Whoops! You'd better replay this level after you unlock the Chinese Zookeeper's Wanking Gloves!" But also, in XCOM, there's a constant sense of discovery, from both revealing the current map and our ongoing understanding of the alien threat, whereas I feel like we go into Mario games with everything pre-discovered; I'm going to assume Bowser will be involved, and in the end, Princess Peach will refuse to put out.

I'd also like to note that XCOM made me actually give a shit, evil aliens trying to kill us all when we'd rather not be killed, thank you very much. Here, it's just "There's Rabbids, and they're generally bringing down the whole tone of the place". Again, it's designed by contractual obligation; I'd like to ask for slightly more motivation than propping up Nintendo and Ubisoft's failing marriage.

Addenda Edit

  • Mixes his toasties: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • So can you feed rabbids with normal carrots or do you have to buy special 'carrods' that are formulated for retards
  • Next week, a crossover between Manhunt 2 and Awesome Possum
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
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2008
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
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Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
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2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
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2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time

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