Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was a surprisingly fun strategy game that blended the Mushroom Kingdom with Ubisoft’s raving Rabbids. Less than a year after its initial release, the game has returned with the new DLC expansion Donkey Kong Adventure, introducing Nintendo’s beloved ape into the fray.
Donkey Kong Adventure is a standalone campaign that you can access at any time, provided you have beaten the main game’s first world. The story follows the returning characters Rabbid Peach and the robotic Beep-0, who due to a ridiculous series of events, end up stranded in a tropical world. To return to the Mushroom Kingdom, they must recover lost pieces of the magical washing machine that transported them there, while stopping the menacing Rabbid Kong, who has uncovered a bunch of bad bananas. The most crucial element of this wacky plot is that our protagonists encounter two new allies, the strong simian Donkey Kong and Rabbid Cranky, an alternate version of the fan-favorite coot Cranky Kong.
Every turn-based battle still consists of strategically moving your characters around the field to fire at foes while seeking cover. Donkey Kong breathes fresh air into the tactical gameplay with his versatile moveset. His weapon of choice is the Bananarang, a throwable banana that hits multiple enemies in succession. His secondary move is a strong ground pound that hurts anyone in range, which is most efficient when combined with his bongo drum ability, luring opponents towards him.
What makes this simian shine are his unique field moves. Using his massive strength, Donkey Kong can lift characters or objects and toss them across the arena. Throwing allies is useful as an alternative form of team jumping, but it’s even more satisfying to pick up an unsuspecting enemy and toss it towards another baddie for massive damage to both. You can even throw a block to hurt an enemy while simultaneously removing his cover. Additionally, by swinging across vines, he can easily get across the entire stage within a turn or two, creating a gratifying combo where he moves enemies all over the map while dealing heavy damage. Donkey Kong is a tactical powerhouse who can easily manipulate the field and command amazing maneuverability.
Cranky Kong is another fun addition to the cast. He’s not as unique as DK, but his weapons have a great area of effect. His personality feeds into the gameplay too; he can put others to sleep with boring stories and get angry to raise his attack. Again, it’s his field move that shines. When airborne, he can fire an extra shot during his landing. As you might expect, this synergizes well with Donkey Kong’s tossing ability. The final member, Rabbid Peach, is exactly the same as she was in the base game, except wielding new weapons. The well-designed characters are the DLC’s highlights, adding new strategic layers of utilizing this powerful ensemble. Multiple area of effect attacks and fantastic team synergy made battles a tropical breeze. That being said, the adventure gets harder, but those who have beaten the original will likely find the DLC easy.
Unfortunately, you are limited to the three characters and can’t switch your team, so there’s less variety than in the original. It’s a missed opportunity, considering how many characters the expansion could have borrowed from the Donkey Kong Country series, like Diddy Kong. As great as Rabbid Peach is, I wish a new character could have taken her place. It’s not even the same Rabbid Peach that you use in the main story mode. In fact, none of your progress from that mode transfers here and vice versa, which means you can’t bring any of your characters to the main game. It would have been fun to plow through missions with both Donkey Kong and Mario.
There are over a dozen new missions spread out across four areas. Most battles require you to defeat all opponents, with only a few diverting slightly. There are a handful of novel enemy types, but most are similar to those found in the original only with a few exceptions, including a summoner who can conjure up enemies. At least the boss fights, aside from the final one, are spectacular tests of Donkey Kong’s powers. Overall, the level designs of new maps aren’t drastically different from before, but they take more advantage of Donkey Kong’s enhanced mobility.
Each world is shorter than typical, resulting in a playtime of six to eight hours, a generous fraction of the standard campaign’s length. This doesn’t include how much time you may spend solving the numerous puzzles in between battles or the challenge missions, which is the only unlockable content besides gallery art and music. Speaking of which, the new jungle areas look lush, and incorporating collectibles and sound effects from the Donkey Kong Country series is a nice touch. Hearing Grant Kirkhope’s tune reprisals from Donkey Kong 64 was icing on this DLC cake.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure is a great add-on for those who enjoyed the original game. It’s a fairly conservative expansion, simply providing a new tropical coat of paint. It’s perhaps too limited, since you only get three characters (one repeat), and nothing transfers over to your main files. However, that doesn’t take away from its fun factor. Donkey Kong is an absolute blast in battle, throwing out all the rules with his powerful abilities. If anything, this expansion has given me hope for what’s to come in this ambitious crossover.
I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!