Games Review: Mario + Rabbids: Donkey Kong Adventure (Switch, 2018): More of the same

Ubisoft returns to Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, the surprise strategy hit of 2017, with a lengthy new slab of DLC with Donkey Kong in the spotlight. To call Donkey Kong Adventure an “expansion” in the strictest sense might be to oversell it. It doesn’t really add much to the game that wasn’t there already. What it is, is more — much more — of what you enjoyed last year.

Donkey Kong Adventure begins in much the way most DK adventures do — DK’s lost his narnies and he wants them back. With the manic Rabbids getting up in his personal space, DK embarks on a journey with Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Cranky (who might be my favourite new addition to the game) to shut them down and restore order.

DK’s moveset is likely the biggest change to the game overall. DK is strong enough that he can pick up and throw almost anything in front of him — enemies, items, even the terrain itself. This is great for opening up sightlines for your allies and forcing your enemies into a tactical retreat. Doing so sacrifices meaningful cover of your own, but it also lets you scoop the Rabbids up and turf them unceremoniously off the level so I’ll take it.

There are a few cosmetic updates — DK rides on Beep-o, the little roomba friend from main campaign, which makes navigating the levels between battles much more readable. Previously, Beep-o would lead the party but didn’t draw the eye as much as Mario. You’d end up looking at Mario as the leader, but Beep-o would always move first. This led to moments of confused movement and no shortage of repeated frustration. With DK hitching a ride, you now know for sure who’s in the lead at all times.

What hasn’t changed is the game’s creeping difficulty. You could be forgiven for thinking a game with an exterior as sugar sweet as this might be a cakewalk, even for an XCOM-like strategy title, but you’d be wrong. The difficulty curve is finely tuned and goes easy on you for the first few battles. The assumption, probably correct, is that you might not have played Mario + Rabbids for a while and might need a second to get your head around it again. I was appreciative of this momentary leniency, and was well prepared for the moment the game took the gloves off again.

This review is fairly short and sweet but there’s really not that much to cover here. Donkey Kong Adventure‘s lack of … I don’t want to call it innovation, but certainly difference compared to the base game is both a positive and a negative. Would I like to see Ubisoft pushing Mario + Rabbids in new directions and introducing new mechanics beyond what we’ve already seen? Definitely. By the same token, am I happy to keep playing this game as it is? Absolutely. If what you want from Mario + Rabbids is More, then Donkey Kong Adventure has you covered. If what you wanted was Different, then you may have to wait for the inevitable sequel announce.

Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: More Mario + Rabbids in your life; Rabbid Cranky rules
Lowlights: May not separate itself far enough from the base game to satisfy some players
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Available: Now

Review conducted on Nintendo Switch using a US region Nintendo eShop code provided the publisher.