Meet Rabbid Cranky. Just when you thought that Ubisoft Milan couldn’t better the easily bored, sassy and selfie-obsessed Rabbid Peach, his stubborn, bad-tempered and rambling behaviour means that he is soon destined to steal the spotlight in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure.
This is the brand new story content that was promised to those that have bought the Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Season Pass, that, having had the chance to spend nearly two hours with it on a sunny day at Ubisoft UK, I can now say that it is ridiculously more substantial than I think anyone would have ever imagined.
The elevator pitch is that your epic team for this new four-island quest is Donkey Kong, Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Cranky, who will start out in the Village before making their way to the Reef, Jungle and a fourth island that will remain a complete surprise until someone manages to reach it. You can expect it to take you around 10 hours to conquer in entirety, and, for those left wondering how it all fits in, it is perhaps best seen as an alternate storyline to what unfolds in the main game.
After Rabbid Peach mischievously knocks Rabbid Kong from his Jenga tower, he tumbles into the Time Washing Machine which transports the brutish ape to a mysterious island. More unfortunate events lead to Rabbid Peach and Beep-0 soon following in his clumsy footsteps, and, after the Time Washing Machine is broken, Donkey Kong and Cranky Kong once again answer the call of the jungle drums to help them return home. It isn’t long before Rabbid Kong turns up, now holding a grudge with Rabbid Peach that soon sees him fly into a rage when he sees her – now more powerful than ever thanks to the Bad Bananas that he has been munching.
Where the Rabbid and Mushroom Kingdom universes had collided in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, the developer has clearly had just as much fun letting the Rabbids run wild in a third. Coins are swapped out for Bananas, Tarots for Jigsaw Pieces and Power Orbs for Power Runes that unlock new upgrades in the Skill Tree. But, you can still expect a pun-packed adventure with turn-based combat, unpredictable enemies and puzzles sandwiched in between.
Beep-0 returns as your guide, but, this time around, the aged, cardigan-wearing Rabbid Cranky rides the small robot assistant as a unicycle as you explore the worlds. These parts largely tread the same ground, in that players are free to search every nook and cranny to complete environmental puzzles to be rewarded with new weapons and collectibles, or simply move straight on to their next objective. The puzzles are slightly more complicated than those seen in the main game, the ones that I came across challenging you to turn parts on Rabbid totems to match a secret password and an isometric puzzle where I quickly had to rearrange a track and shove a minecart along it.
It is in the turn-based battle encounters that Ubisoft Milan has really gone to
town the jungle with their creativity. Donkey Kong hurls the Bwananarang as his main attack, a low-calorie banana packed with fibre and vitamin C that can be used as a boomerang to whack multiple enemy Rabbids in the face based on how it is thrown. The other way that the courageous ape can deal damage is with the DK Ground Pound, loudly slamming the ground to hurt nearby enemies. And then he has the Hairy Eye and Magnet Mambo techniques, one letting Donkey Kong unleash a reaction shot at the first enemy to move in his line of sight, and the other seeing him bust out his bongos to draw enemies within range towards his irresistible jungle beat.
Cranky Kong’s trusty cane transforms into the Boombow, a crossbow with a shotgun-like damage spread that can hit multiple enemies at once and, as a secondary attack, he can fling Barrel Bolts from it. He has the Stinky Eye technique that works in the same way as Donkey Kong’s Hairy Eye, but, what will surely raise a smile is Long Story. When used this will see nearby enemies fall asleep so that they don’t have to listen to Rabbid Cranky’s latest political rant or complaints about the post office. And then Rabbid Peach accompanies them, who has the same weapons and techniques as before.
Hollowed out tree trunks replace Rabbid warp pipes, barrels help to blast you around, there are Bad Banana stockpiles to destroy and Donkey Kong can not only swing on dandelions to carry him between blue DK pads but pick up blocks, crates and enemy Rabbids to hurl them across the map – a skill upgrade even letting you do the same to Rabbid ears when they pop out of the ground. Rabbid Cranky has a trick up his cardigan sleeves too, and, once an ally launches him into the air, he can perform a Grump Jump to take a widespread shot at the ground as he lands.
There will also be different enemy Rabbids that you will bump into. The first battle introduces Collectors, fast enemies who steal anything shiny and metal before running away. You will need to chase them down and corner them to retrieve the Washing Machine parts that they carry.
I managed to end my play session by narrowly defeating the “Standof-Fish scaredy cat,” Side Eye. This midboss is happy to boss around Rabbids, but, when alone, he chooses to hide from danger hoping that it will go away. Swimming through the sand with his hammerhead shark cloak on, Side Eye can fire underwater mines from a giant club, and, more than anything, it was hard work to keep up with him to actually deal any damage. Boss eventually defeated, I now want to see the rest of what awaits everyone.
It is Ubisoft Milan’s attention to detail and sheer passion for the Nintendo properties that they have been lucky enough to work with that continues to shine through in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime for them, and now, handed the chance to take a second shot, one of last year’s biggest surprises looks set to barrel blast back into our lives to win us over once again.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure will release on the Nintendo eShop for Nintendo Switch in June, as part of the Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Season Pass.