Ubisoft kindly invited us to Paris recently to take an early peak at the upcoming Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
Now I know what you're thinking, because I thought it too. Who wants a Mario game with those awful Rabbids in it?
Well, it turns out I do. I really do. After spending about five hours with it, I can safely say I'm sold.
Because it's just an awful lot of silly, random fun that takes Mario in a direction he hasn't gone before - turn-based strategy.
In the beginning, Rabbids invaded the Mushroom Kingdom
Mario + Rabbids plays similar to XCOM. You have a team of three hero units who you send off into turn-based battles against a variety of nasty Rabbids.
Each team takes it in turn to perform a variety of actions. You can run for cover, shoot Rabbids, use special moves, melee attack, jump off team mates to cover more ground, and travel through warp pipes.
And you can use several of these moves in a single turn, which leads to some crazy moves that are an absolute joy to watch. There's just the right balance of depth and accessibility.
Battles make up a huge portion of the experience, but in between them you'll explore the Mushroom Kingdom. You can pick up coins to buy new equipment, seek hidden areas for treasure, and solve puzzles to progress.
So Mario and a few good Rabbids banded together to save it
As you progress, your team will unlock skill points. You can use these to increase your statistics and unlock new abilities, shaping your characters as you see fit.
There's an awful lot of depth here, but it doesn't ever feel intimidating. You can chop and change your builds at any given time, and experiment in each battle to find your favoured setup. The same applies to weapons. You can have a bunch in your inventory, and swap between them if you wish.
And that freedom is very welcome, as the battles do get quite challenging later on. During one part of our hands on, we were thrown into a battle much later in the game and I can safely say I got completely owned by the Rabbids.
So I headed to the skill tree, tweaked some stuff, and had a much easier time of it in the next battle. That's where a huge chunk of the fun comes from - figuring out a strategy to overcome each battle.
And they kicked Rabbid butt and it was immensely satisfying
As you can expect from a Switch game, there's also local multiplayer. You each choose two heroes then select one of the three difficulty levels and battle.
You'll face a horde of Rabbids, and have to coordinate your strategies to succeed. It's absolutely as fun as the campaign, and provides a decent challenge.
It's local only though, which is a bit of a shame. It's a lot of fun and there's no reason it should be limited to couch play.
But it's a small blip in what is shaping up to be an excellent addition to the Switch's first year line up. We can't wait to get our hands on the finished product later this month.