Want to watch Zero Punctuation without commercials? Sign up for The Escapist+ today and support your favorite content creators!
Well, guess it wasn’t a one night stand after all. Mario and Rabbids, sitting in a tree. Pays an exorbitant license fee. So going through this little dance again, we are, where Ubisoft’s proto-Minions are mainly distinguished by their resemblance to a half-melted Spongebob Squarepants ice cream that attempts to maintain its long redundant existence by clinging to the fur tails of one of the few video games -franchises with an even more over-the-top shtick, making the combined tiredness of this hackneyed sequel somewhere on the level of a truckstop whore the morning after the viagra shipment passed OH OK, I’LL ENCLOSE WHAT I LIKED ABOUT MARIO AND RABIDS SPARKS OF HOPE . You took it out of me, you bastards. Hope you are satisfied. I liked a mainstream thing. Now when I go to the snarky impossible to please Youtube reviewer meeting, I have to wear the silly hat and sit in the shame box. See, Nintendo has two patterns that Mario and Rabbids: Snarks of Hope take advantage of. First, Nintendo doesn’t mean much to do anything. Nintendo does a lot of things. They participate very much in the thing-based economy. But it’s worth paying attention when Nintendo does something TWICE. That’s how we got Majora’s Mask and Paper Mario 2.
Once they’ve set the list and gone through the motions, Old Man Nintendo turns its back for five seconds and the creative minds can start messing with the concept. And the other pattern is that the quality of a Mario RPG-style spinoff is always, with zero exceptions, enhanced by Bowser being a playable character or party member. When he’s not just dutifully sticking his head into the “insert practical antagonist here” section, and he can act like his self-serving self, a sort of grumpy insecure divorced father figure who works hard but always shows up for his kid. football game and gets a little too into it. Regardless, Mario and Rabbids: Bars of Soap launches with surprisingly little fanfare. I know this is the sequel, but still, I’m expecting some kind of movie to restore things, maybe show Princess Peach unveiling a statue for the Tomb of the Unknown Cupcake or whatever the hell she does all day, but no. We jump right into the gameplay with Mario, Luigi and Peach just hanging out in a meadow with the Rabbid versions of themselves, which is an odd dynamic right off the bat. It’s like celebrities are still hanging out with their dying fans the day after their Make-A-Wish foundation photo shoot.
Seconds later, this week’s resident of “insert practical antagonist here” appears in the form of a giant manta ray made of darkness, which was very frightening because I thought we were back in that one damn level from Mario Sunshine, and the appearance of Rabbidified Lumas from Super Mario Galaxy suggest that shit is going down in the space city and the whole crew is piling into their spaceship as they conveniently and mysteriously have to see if Princess Rosalina is okay. I said about the first game that it doesn’t feel like Mario being involved added much to the concept beyond big name star power, and that’s even more the case here, now that there’s no commitment to keeping Mario as a permanent party member or maintaining a certain amount of Mushroom Kingdom and Rabbid demographic representation. You could easily have Mario and Luigi hang out in the background and compare the mustache’s life for the entire game if their unique monitoring abilities weren’t so incredibly useful. The story barely checks in with them when things first start. This is the world of the rabbis, now, Mario just lives in it. Hopefully in a well soundproofed apartment.
So we travel across the requisite linear sequence of thematic hub worlds and help the local Rabbid oddballs repel the evil black goo secreted by the evil black antagonist. I wonder if all the black pee exuding generic evil forces in video games ever connect. I wonder if they exchange viscosity tips on r-slash-purpleisthenewblack. A smattering of mandatory combat missions to unlock the next hubworld and a scattering of optional ones if you’re the kind of dork who holds up the line at McDonalds for five minutes trying to decide if you want to increase it. But I see you sneak up on the flank there, sensible horse, you want to know why Mario and the Rabbids have snuck up and enjoyed a bit. Well, for starters, movement in combat has taken a cue from a promiscuous waterfowl in that it’s much more loosely goosed. Instead of the XCOM style “click the spot in range and our guy sprints straight there like a teacher’s pet being told to collect homework”, the game just lays out the entire area in range and you can run around it to your heart’s content want . Kick a bobom in the nuts, carry it halfway across the map to aim it at someone else before it explodes, go around to every other enemy and give each one a kiss on the lips, then pick your cover spot, and it’s all still a movement phase .
In short, the most important improvement here is “flexibility.” You can strategically bounce pad and partner boost all the way around the map in one turn and then change your mind and bounce pad all the way back because you were holding out for a deck spot with a private bathroom and ocean view. The hub worlds have more character and feel a lot less like glorified menu screens. The addition of equippable Rabbid Lumas with different powers gives more options to fight, and of course there’s the aforementioned fact that we can tell Mario to curse the party and stick his head in a bucket of ravioli for the entire game if we want to make an empty statement against globalized media. Oops, don’t overload the pros lest we lose our balance and tip into the bottomless pit of dismissive Youtube comments, let’s balance things out. The GUI menus are a bit crap. Especially when going through the motions before a match. When you choose your three guys and their lumas and pack their lunch boxes, the game has a bad habit of closing the entire menu because I wanted to go back one page, like a car where the cigarette lighter button is right next to the ejection seat. And the upgrade trees are more like flimsy little upgrade kids, such little sour underripe bonuses I really couldn’t bear to deal with.
Luckily there is an AutoFill button, but I wish it would do all the characters at once. I want to get on with it, not go around the classroom handing out cookies. But to get back to the big picture, I think the main reason I liked Mario and Rabbids: Farts a-Plenty is that it’s got a hell of a personality, and it’s more fun because it’s less dependent on maxing out mileage from falling down and walking. bwah and has given the rabbis actual dialogue and voices so wit can be shown. I liked how the recurring AI support character and the AI piloting the ship grew increasingly boring with each other. I appreciated how one of the new main characters is a sort of Rabbid version of a generic brod anime character with a sword and stupid neon hair. Whose name is literally Edge. It offers a bit of satire that I would feel quite assaulted by if I were one of, say, nine different Sonic the Hedgehog characters. So I liked the generally smarter tone, I’m just worried it would be lost on the Rabbids target audience. “Why are you making caustic satirical jokes about this one Rabbid character’s singing career? When will she fall down and go bwah? Please hurry so I can stick these crayons up my nose and get back to campaigning for governor.”