This is a fair criticism but I’m pig-headed enough that I came to realise that it was just me not thinking about my actions enough! In fact, at least one of those world 1 challenges is easier to do if you’re using starting gear! I’ve been doing all the challenges after finishing the story in each world. I’m not sure if this is the intended way to do it but I like tying places up while the loose ends are still fresh in my mind.
Anyway, at this rate Mario + Rabbids is likely to be my game of the year. Splatoon 2 has been confidently pushed aside, which is high praise given how difficult it’s been to prise me off of it.
I’ve no particular fondness for Firaxis’ XCOM, Mario or the Rabbids but this inspired combination has just totally won me over. The environments are full of cute and funny details to look at, world 2 in particular is such a creative twist on the tired desert and ice world trope, just like Rayman Origins’ were. Even the music shifts depending on your surroundings, which is a lovely touch.
There’s little details with the characters themselves, like Rabbid Mario stamping on his cap when he’s set on fire or, my recent favourite, Rabbid Peach tripping up while running for cover. Rabbid Mario’s introduction was just wonderful too. These things add so much to what is already a game brimming with personality, charm and humour. It’s clear that the writers have had a lot of fun too, whether it’s Beep-O getting angry over Toad getting lost all the time (and having to be saved) or weapon names/descriptions being pun-tastic.
While the story and progress through each world is linear, I’ve found the mix of exploring, sightseeing, puzzling, fighting, upgrading and doling out story to be just right. The turn-based strategy is really tight too. I wasn’t wild about XCOM (the first one at least), but Ubisoft/Nintendo have taken it and simplified it in just the right places (so to-hit percentages are always 0%, 50% or 100% depending on cover and LOS) but made super effects and character abilities pop, adding some real flare and dynamism to the combat. This seems like the perfect gateway game into XCOM-like TBS. Steamworld Heist is right there next to it.
The challenges (and hidden chapters) are a really nice surprise too. While most of them are just tough skirmishes that require you to defeat all enemies, defeat X amount of enemies, reach certain areas or escort Toady, the turn limits really get you flexing your TBS muscle. I’ve found the fewer turns you have the more puzzle-y it is and some of the lessons you learn here transfer to other scenarios and situations well, particularly when you’ve done something stupid and got yourself cornered. The single turn challenges can be real head scratchers–Quantum Leap in world 1, I’m looking at you!
I’m on world 3 at present and looking forward to playing more. BWAH! I love this game. I know Zelda: Breath of the Wild is going to get all the gongs this year but for punch per pound, Mario + Rabbids beats it hands down for me. I don’t think I’ve gone a single play session where I’ve not grinned from ear to ear, giggled like a child or been surprised by something cool (and often unscripted) happening.