The audacity of Ubisoft#8217s Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle for the Nintendo Switch is to transform Nintendo#8217s most cherished characters into tactical weapons slowed to the gait of chess pieces. It shouldn#8217t work, yet somehow does.

As if Nintendo#8217s classic characters couldn#8217t get any weirder, here is Super Mario hefting a futuristic blaster, with all his plump, plumberly pep distilled to numerics like #8220area of movement,#8221 #8220dash#8221 or #8220cleansing stomp.#8221 He#8217s joined by brother Luigi, whose steely gaze guides stinging sniper shots over swathes of quirky terrain. Deranged bunny allies (the #8220Rabbids#8221 from Ubisoft#8217s goofy Rayman-verse) cosplay the famous siblings and other familiar faces, capering across Skittles-bright battlefields like psychotic toddlers. Together they tail a hovering, hockey-puckish robot, dubbed #8220Beep-o,#8221 who periodically interrupts to ground the game#8217s rollicking plot.


The conceit is that Nintendo#8217s Mario-verse and Ubisoft#8217s topsy-turvy Rabbids have catastrophically collided thanks to a child-brainiac#8217s augmented reality contraption that can merge objects. The Rabbids show up in a time-traveling washing machine, the helmet accidentally gloms onto one of the bunch, who kicks off a rash of transmogrifications, hybridizing characters and beloved landscapes before buddying with the usual Mario villains. It#8217s the stuff art team dreams are made of.

Mario#8217s already bizarre Mushroom Kingdom bursts with Rayman-ish peculiarities, like geysering toilets, grooving flowers and ivory pipes with bunny ears and lolling tongues. Zebra-striped treetops share turf with others that sport surreal curlicues. Snow and sand bleed together forming paradoxical biomes. Toy blocks frame a multihued jungle-gym commandeered by a hilarious alternate version of an iconic Nintendo adversary. It#8217s wacky, boisterous and absolutely gorgeous.


To reverse this Franken-tangling, players guide a preselected trio through these adorably absurd vistas, led in all cases by Mario, but with swappable spots for Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi or their loony Rabbids analogues. Levels (10 per each of the game#8217s four worlds) subdivide into zones, each freely explorable and stuffed with trip-the-switch traversal puzzles, secret areas and hidden collectibles you can inspect in the vicinity of Princess Peach#8217s castle, the game#8217s safe zone hub. (Completionists can also revisit and replay levels here.)