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Donkey Kong Adventure For Mario + Rabbids Is A Banana Fuelled Delight

Gorilla warfare.

Easily one of the most pleasant surprises of the last few years, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was actually a damn good mash up. It came out of left field, with Nintendo typically so very protective of their franchises, and certainly very hesitant to mix them in with other franchises outside of relatively minor cameos (think Snake in Super Smash Bros.) and yet here were Mario and chums with ridiculous Rabbids counterparts in a speedy XCOM-alike for Switch. It was so mad that it simply had to work.

So what happens if you ditch Mario in favour of his former arch nemesis? That’s exactly what the Donkey Kong Adventure DLC does with a new story, a good few more hours of gameplay, and trading in Mario and Rabbid Luigi for Donkey Kong and Rabbid Cranky Kong. This is easily the most substantial DLC for the game, and it will be available either standalone or part of the game’s season pass some time in June.

One of the many joys from Kingdom Battle was seeing the fusion of the Rabbids and Mario universe, giving familiar characters tongue in cheek pastiches of themselves to interact with. The selfie obsessed Rabbid Peach was the obvious standout from all of this and so it’s no real surprise that she returns here filling the role of team healer, but Donkey Kong and Rabbid Cranky Kong both offer up some fun and interesting new gameplay possibilities and ideas.

Donkey Kong in particular brings something new, with a special move ability using DK specific jump pads that let him swing around the level and makes him by far the most mobile character in the game. There’s also a a nice little call back to his origins, as he’s able to grab practically anything in a battle and then fling it at enemies once he’s continued his moved. It comes at the expense of a jump and dash attack, but means he then still has his banana boomerang attack to hit some enemies with.

When I say he can pick up anything, I mean it. He can grab big and small blocks of cover, those elemental boxes to deal specific types of damage to enemies, and even enemies and allies, no matter how big. It’s strangely fun to be able to grab the big Smashers and then hurl them at each other, even bouncing them out of bounds to deal even more damage. When Rabbid ears pop out of the ground, they’re not necessarily met with fear and trepidation anymore; DK can even uproot emerging enemies and chuck them around!

Not only that, but DK’s specials include a neat call back to Donkey Konga, as he whips out a pair of bongos and starts bashing away, hypnotising enemies to walk towards him. This brings them all well in range of his ground slapping attack that deals damage to anything within two squares.

Rabbid Cranky Kong – who rides the still very dull Beep-0 around like a unicycle on the world map – is a little more straightforward, as his walking stick splits open to be a crossbow shotgun thing – yeah, I don’t know either – or to fire exploding barrels. He can team up with DK very nicely, giving enemies a quick shotgun blast from above as he flies through the sky, but much more useful is a great big ‘Long Story’ yawn that can send enemies to sleep for a turn. You need to be careful how you use this yawn, though.

The fundamental form of battles from the main game remain here, always giving you several things to do each turn as you move, dash attack, leap off allies, use pipes, use abilities, and attack in an incredibly freeing fashion. It’s just as slick and fast-paced as before, and that’s not something you can often say about turn-based strategy games. A lot of the game’s finer points of strategy come in when and in what order to use abilities, and Long Story is best suited to be used at the very end of a turn, as enemies will wake up if they’re attacked. That’s absolutely not what you want to happen!

There’s such a joy in finding the peculiar synergies and way all these ideas can tie into each other. Battles are generally quite puzzle-like as you figure out how to come out of them with all your characters alive and in under the turn limit for a perfect rating, but you can also play with style. One of the first midboss characters to defeat is Side Eye, the “StandofFISH scaredy cat”. He’s all about running away to the other side of the map, hiding behind cover and striking with long range explosive attacks. It was with great satisfaction that I defeated him using a thrown bounce box to bring him right next to DK, so I could slap the ground and deal the final points of damage.

As DLC it doesn’t do too much to shake up the main formula, but there’s some nice new environments to explore outside of battle – we saw Village, Reef and Jungle – and there’s a thematic switch of collecting bananas as currency and not coins. Character upgrades are effectively the same, but they’ve been simplified ever-so-slightly to use one, two or three upgrade points, instead of multiples of five and ten. You’re effectively starting from scratch here, even with Rabbid Peach, but don’t have to unlock the base abilities and can get stuck into the skill buffs.

Simply put, if you liked Kingdom Battle, then this will give you more of the same, but with a few little twists here and there. Donkey Kong is a stand out new character with lots of fun abilities to toy with in the battles, and having Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Cranky Kong along for the ride gives you a well rounded trio for more fast-paced turn based battling.

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