There are plenty of franchises out there on the video game market that I have never touched for one reason or another. The most common reason is either because I have never owned a primary system a game franchise was on or there are just too many games out there for me to play. The Rabbids franchise from Ubisoft is one of those franchises that has a good following but I have never crossed paths.

My body is ready.

On Monday at E3, confirming some of the not-so-well-kept secret development of a crossover game between the Rabbids and Super Mario franchises, Ubisoft kicked off their E3 presentation by bringing Shigeru Miyamoto to officially announce Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle for the Nintendo Switch. Not being all too familiar with the Rabbids franchise at all, I was totally unsure of what to expect from the game. Nintendo wanted just one thing from Ubisoft out of this game, and that was to create a Mario game that’s never been done before. And with Super Mario Odyssey coming out later this year, I suspected a typical platformer was out of the question. Little did I know this game was going to feature a turn-based action style gameplay.

Mario does battle with an all-new weapon in turn-based action style. Image via Ubisoft.

What stood out to me immediately was the color. This is certainly keeping in line with one of the main features of a standard Nintendo game developed by Nintendo; it has to be colorful. The Mushroom Kingdom may have been disrupted by an invasion of Rabbids, but it is just as colorful as always in its first portrayal on the Switch. All of the characters you would expect to be in the game are playable. In addition to Mario and various Rabbids, you can play as Luigi, Princess Peach and Yoshi. I have a funny feeling our old pal Bowser is not too far away from the action either. Best of all, you can play this game in a co-op mode to team up to fight battles and solve puzzles along the way to restoring order to the Mushroom Kingdom (before things go crazy in Super Mario Odyssey later this year).

Don’t fool yourself. This is not a true Mario game. We’ll have to wait until later this year for Super Mario Odyssey for that, barring any stunning surprises during Nintendo’s E3 presentations this week (Nintendo has released updated graphical versions of four Legend of Zelda titles, so would it kill them to put out an HD remake of Super Mario Sunshine or a deluxe version of the Super Mario Galaxy games? An HD version of either of those games was one of my bold E3 predictions to fill the void before Odyssey, but I think Mario + Rabbids will serve that purpose).

Nintendo has allowed other developers to work with some of their key franchises over the years, and it appears Nintendo is becoming more and more trusting of certain third-party companies with some of their biggest icons. Nintendo has lent the keys to the cast of characters from the world of Mario over to longtime rival and now strong ally SEGA for Olympic-themed games. And just a few years ago the Zelda franchise was handed off to Omega Force and Team Ninja for the surprising Hyrule Warriors on the Nintendo WiiU. That has led to the development for a 2017 release of Fire Emblem Warriors on the Nintendo Switch and New 3DS by the same two companies. So far, the third-party developers have handled the Nintendo franchises with great care and attention to detail. What Ubisoft has shown off of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle appears to stay true to that promising and comforting theme while also trying out something new. This is a good thing.

Should I play now or wait for Super Mario Odyssey?

If you can only buy one Mario game this year, hold on to your dollars for Super Mario Odyssey.

That is the question that some people will be faced with answering. Not everybody can get their hands on every game that comes out, so you may only be able to get one game or the other. I have not played either game at this point in time, but I feel safe in suggesting that if you only buy one Mario game this year, hold off another few months until Super Mario Odyssey comes out. But keep a close eye on this one because it looks to be a whole different kind of fun and looks to have some value in any growing Switch collection moving forward.

Think of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle as a step up from Fortune Street and the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic game titles. Both of those games or franchises use Mario characters to help sell a game but nobody would ever mistake those for a Mario adventure. This is a giant step closer to the adventure aspect of a Mario game, but this is more of a Rabbids game featuring a strong cast of Mario characters to help spark some new interest in the franchise. This is hardly a bad thing. As I have suggested to you, this may be the game that gets me to see what the Rabbids franchise is all about in the same way Hyrule Warriors got me to check out the Dynasty Warriors franchise (and more hyped for Fire Emblem Warriors later this year).

Nintendo needs titles like this to keep things fresh and help fill time in between the major benchmark releases from Nintendo’s own developers. Notice how Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is coming out close to the midway point before the launch of the Switch with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. That could be a good strategy for Nintendo (and Ubisoft). It may not be a day one purchase for most, but Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle should probably have space on your shelf at some point in the future.

Pre-order on Amazon

You can pre-order Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle using this Amazon affiliate link. Pre-ordering the game now will yield you eight unique weapons in the Pixel Pack for a retro feel. The game is scheduled for release on August 29 at a retail price of $59.99. However, Amazon Prime members can get a better price right now. At the time of this posting, the game was going for $47.99. Don’t forget about the Amazon Prime price guarantee, which will give you the lowest price if the price ever goes lower between the time you pre-order and the time the game ships.And remember that if you want the game the day it launches, you have to select two-day shipping.

And remember that if you want the game the day it launches, you have to select two-day shipping.

But wait! Theres more!

Ubisoft is also selling figurines inspired by the game on their official online store (pre-orders for now). A collector’s edition of the game will come packaged with one of four different Rabbids figures dressed in either a Mario, Luigi, Peach or Yoshi costume, or you could buy the figurines separately. The figurines come in either three inches tall for $19.99 or six inches for $39.99 each.

THESE ARE NOT AMIIBO! There has been no word yet on whether or not there will be amiibo compatibility with the game (although I would be surprised if that wasn’t the case with Mario-themed amiibo), but these figurines are NOT amiibo accessories.

Let me know if you will be picking up Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle or any of the figurines. Is this a day-one purchase for you, or will you hold off until a later time to give it a try?

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