Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle – Donkey Kong Adventure Review
DK gets down to monkey business in this hefty expansion.
Donkey Kong Adventure is a full-fledged new world for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle that puts an ape-flavored twist on its bouncy and colorful turn-based tactical gameplay. It gives up some flexibility to focus its levels so heavily on Donkey Kong’s new powers, but in doing so it makes its battles more interesting than just more of the same.
I’m not going to try to explain the absurdist story that brings Beep-O and Rabbid Peach to Donkey Kong’s world to battle a beefed-up Rabbid Kong. It’s funny and well animated, but you kinda have to be there (and appreciate the Rabbids’ goofy schtick).
Every mission is played with the same three characters: Donkey Kong, Rabbid Cranky, and Rabbid Peach. They make a good team, but being locked in like this sacrifices a lot of replayability potential since all you can really do is swap out your weapon bonuses instead of swapping out characters.
Donkey Kong is uniquely powerful character who completely changes up your options.
But Donkey Kong, in particular, is such a uniquely powerful character and works so differently from everyone else that he completely changes up your options. For starters, he has lots of strong conventional traits: he’s a beefy tank who can absorb a lot of punishment so that he allies don’t have to, and his boomerang banana weapon can chain between multiple enemies if they’re lined up well (though it’s not terrific at telling you how to do this).
Where things get crazy is that instead of bouncing off allies or slide-tackling enemies like everyone else, when you move Donkey Kong on top of someone he’ll squash them into a ball, carry them around, and toss them as either a mode of transportation or a weapon. This also turns most blocks on the map into projectiles, including power blocks, which finally gives us a reliable means of inflicting special effects like honey, bounce, or fire when we need to instead of gambling on a 30% chance for a critical hit.
On top of that, Donkey Kong can run into the center of a group of enemies and pull them in with the siren call of his bongos, then smashing the crap out of everything around him with a multi-hit ape rage that basically makes him a walking tornado of destruction. It’s extremely satisfying to pull off.
Cranky’s okay too, with lots of area-of-effect damage from his shotgun and grenade, and the ability to put enemies to sleep for a turn with boring stories. Upgrading his overwatch ability to fire twice turns him absolutely lethal at close range, and activating it and then using Donkey Kong to throw an enemy into the air makes Cranky blast it out of the air like a clay pigeon. He’ll also fire his shotgun downward when thrown, creating yet another area-of-effect attack.
There’s a good mix of objectives that keeps battles from growing stale.
Just like in the main campaign there’s a good mix of objectives; throwing in a mission where the goal is to protect a zone or reach a spot on the other side of the map between “Defeat All” objectives keeps it from getting stale, and the missions where you have to chase around enemies who can run across the whole map are thankfully rare. There aren’t many really new enemies, though, so nothing gave me too much trouble. The boss fights are decent challenges, too, if not especially novel.
I’m not wild about the DK-only jump pads scattered around the levels since they make me feel a little too directed in how I should approach them. Sometimes they’re used to effectively separate Donkey Kong from the rest of the group, and things are much less fun when your characters are spread out.
The world itself is just as diverse and beautiful as in the main game – each of the four chapters takes place in a different environment, from tropical to jungle to underground, and they’re all splashed with color and details like scenes of Rabbids goofing off in the background. And of course, the music is up to the excellent standard of the original game, with a more Donkey Kong-inspired beat to it. Cranky also addresses one of my little gripes with Mario + Rabbids by riding on top of Beep-O while you’re navigating the world map, making it easier to see where the front of your party is when moving away from the camera.
Overall, this new world feels a little easier than the main campaign missions, though that’s partially because I already know how to play. It took about six hours to play through, including with some of the tough post-game challenge missions and casually collecting the many puzzle pieces and chests hidden behind optional puzzles (mostly of the block-pushing variety, but there are also a few memory games and other types mixed in) that range from simplistic to daunting but achievable.