SupaMerging Mario into a New Genre
There have been Mario games in multiple different genres throughout the years. Mario has mostly stuck to platformers, with a couple of JRPG style spin-offs thrown into the mix.
Most recently Ubisoft received permission to throw the cast of Mario into a Tactical RPG. The game brings both Mario and the Rabbids, from Ubisoft, together. The Rabbids have mostly been in the Rayman series, with a few of their own spin-offs as well.
At the beginning of the game, the Rabbids, who are generally mischievous creatures, get a hold of a piece of technology called the SupaMerge. This can take any two objects and merge them together into one. Using this the Rabbids cause trouble in the Mushroom Kingdom by accidentally combining themselves with the Mario world. As such there are eight different characters that you can play as throughout the game: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, and their Rabbid counterparts. There are two major ways the game plays, there's the 3D Puzzle sections and combat.
Puzzles and Navigating Between Combat
Throughout the game you have to navigate through some 3D Puzzle areas in order to get to the combat sections. The game is broken down into 4 major worlds and the hub area at Peach's castle. You have to make your way through different types of puzzles to get to the next combat scenario.
A good majority of the puzzles are block and switch puzzles, where you need to maneuver blocks to set on different switches. There's also a lot of puzzles that require you to find a statue to move onto some giant switches, and a few that use these same statue switches to maneuver mirrors. You then have to get the light from where it's shining to a final location.
Each world has a series of chests that contain different types of artwork from the game, power orbs, or weapon unlocks. Some of these aren't available until you get the new ability for completing the world. This gives an extra reason to go back and find all of the challenge toads.
Each character has a skill tree that enhances their attacks, movement, and health pool. You gain power orbs by completing sections of the world, challenges, or finding them in chests. If you gain 20 power orbs from a chest, than each character gets 20 power orbs. For players who don't want to spend a lot of time dealing with the skill tree, there's an auto fill button. This will automatically select the abilities that you can currently afford. There's also a reset button if you want to try and switch things up to help change a strategy.
There are multiple different types of goals that you can have for a combat scenario. The most common is defeat all enemies or defeat a specified number of enemies. There are also some reach a location missions, and escort missions. The escort missions function the same as the reach a location except that the extra character is the one that has to get to the final location.
After you complete a world, a number of challenges open up. These can be found throughout the world by talking to the special toads. Each challenge requires you to complete a goal in a certain amount of time. They then reward you with extra coins and power orbs.
Cover and Hit Chances
During combat there are three levels of cover: no cover, half cover, and full cover. Each one affects what sort of hit chance you have. If an enemy has no cover, you will always hit them. If they have half cover there's a 50% chance that you'll hit them. If they have full cover you won't hit them.
Theres an added component to the cover though, and that's it's ability to be destroyed or not. Most of the cover locations are made out of brick or ice bricks, which are destructible when enough damage is done to them. They can also have boxes inside of them that will do different things when destroyed.
The movement within combat is one of my favorite parts. You're not just dodging from cover to cover. You can also dash into your enemies for some extra damage, and jump on one of your characters to move further. Some of your characters can even use this ability to jump onto enemies to deal even more damage to them before you even attack. These skills become an increasingly important part of your strategy as the game goes on and you begin dealing with different types of enemies.
Each hero character has two different hero abilities. The Mario cast has an "over watch" type ability and a second, while the Rabbids have a bubble and their second. These can range from doing extra damage to healing. The bubbles protect from a combination of movement damage and weapon damage that differs depending on the character. The over watch ability makes it so your character can use up to two extra attacks when the enemies move.
Putting it All Together
Each turn your team gets three actions per character: a movement, an attack, and a hero ability. While each character only has those three actions, they can be done in any order, and even mixed up with your other characters. You can combo up moving characters and attacking at different times to make each turn even more effective.
There are many different enemy types each with their own move distances/types and attack ranges. Some of them can bounce on each other the way Mario and friends can, some have short distances they can move, but will move every time they're attacked, and others can move long distances or draw your characters in.
As far as I can tell the AI doesn't seem to be super in depth, and most of the fights seem almost scripted if you run through them multiple times. This adds to the puzzle like feel of the game, making it feel less like an XCOM or other tactical RPG and more like your typical Mario style game.
Bosses and Midbosses
Every world has a Midboss fight and a boss fight. For the most part the bosses and midbosses are just stronger versions of the regular enemy types. The bosses do occasionally throw something extra at you, but if you're already thinking ahead it's nothing you can't overcome. The final boss fight was one of the few that gave me trouble during the main game.
Every character has a main and secondary weapon. They are set types for every character, but there are multiple different types between the whole cast. The main weapon is always a gun-type weapon, each with different attack types and ranges. Most of the secondaries do an area of effect so it's important to plan around that and not use a weapon that could kill one of your other characters.
Supers are extra abilities that occur when you get a crit. They affect almost all enemies, outside of a few of the bosses. These can cause you or your enemy to not have a chance to move during their next turn, they can make it so hero abilities are unusable, or attacks are unusable. One will even make it so a character can't do anything on their next turn. These are the biggest source of RNG in the game, if a super hits you at the wrong time it can cause a lot of havoc in your strategy.
The only other large area of RNG is the amount of damage a weapon does. Every weapon has a range of damage it can do, and then the critical strike can do even more on top of that.
As someone who loves both the 3D style platformers of the Mario series as well as tactical RPGs, this game was extremely enjoyable. If you don't enjoy one of those game play styles, or just weren't expecting it, there's a good chance that by the end of the game you'll be fed up with it.
It probably took me between 20 and 30 hours of actual gameplay to complete it and find all of the chests. I still haven't finished the challenges, which could honestly take me awhile as they get fairly difficult and require more strategy than the main storyline. There's also a co-op mode that I haven't even had the chance to touch. So there's a lot to do in the game.
The game is packed full of puzzles and combat and especially some silly moments. It's got a lot of depth when it comes to strategy between the types of weapons you use and the skill system. I highly recommend this game. If you're on the fence about it, you could try and wait for a sale, but it was worth the full price to me.