This is a challenging article to write because I rarely am critical of Nintendo or of a product idea that hasn’t been released. I much prefer to review something that I can buy and properly evaluate. However, there is a new product line coming out that has Nintendo figures in it and I think is worth talking about both positively and negatively. One of the odder Nintendo news stories from E3 has been of the Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle video game. Rumored for weeks and while seeming believable, there is also an element that I think a lot of Nintendo fans didn’t want to believe. The Rabbids used to be pretty fun for me anyway. I played the first Rabbids game on Wii and really liked it. I always wanted to play another game in the series and just never got around to it and the review scores slowly declined with each release too. There have been a lot of games since then and Ubisoft have tried to turn it into a franchise with middling results. In the US, there is and has been Rabbids fatigue for some time and the franchise has certainly lost some of its luster. That Nintendo would let their characters join the Rabbids who are kind of the antithesis, if not the exact opposite of what makes Nintendo great (for example, toilet humor, mindless violence towards each other). As time went on, the rumors have proven to be true and while it will be interesting to see how good the video game is and how well it sells, there is one thing I will go out on a limb and make a prediction about.
Ubisoft is making Nintendo themed Rabbids figures. Initially people thought that these figures were Amiibo and we were seeing another third party release like Shovel Knight but that rumor has proven to be false. This may be a relief to some Nintendo collectors (one less thing to buy) but I think Nintendo may have known what they were doing passing on making Amiibo for this game. The figures Ubisoft is making seem unlikely to appeal to Nintendo fans because they fail to capture the essence of what makes Nintendo great and instead use Nintendo characters and images as a “skin” or costume to be thrown over the Rabbids license.
Even worse, the new figures are trying to use things that are hip and cool (or at least were hip and cool a few years ago, whether they still are is beyond the scope of this article) which is not something Nintendo does either. For example, “Peach” Rabbid taking a selfie and Luigi running with headphones. The real Nintendo characters would never do this and it fails to grasp or use anything that makes Nintendo great. The Yoshi figure is another great example, why does the Rabbid have a Yoshi costume and a Bowser Jr. gun? It makes little sense and the poor use of Nintendo characters and art assets is likely to rub many Nintendo fans the wrong way.
The bigger issue for many collectors will be the price. The small 3″ inch figures cost $20 which you can nearly get two non-Zelda Amiibo for. The 6″ is a whopping $40 and has the nicer black base you see in the pictures throughout this article but is even more overpriced. These prices are really high for a non-articulated figure at that size and that will also be likely to scare collectors off.
Nintendo has been very protective of their franchises and characters after some missteps early on in their history and both this game and letting Ubisoft create these figures is as big of a leap as I can remember them taking in years. While I think some Nintendo fans will buy and like these figures. I suspect the majority will not and these figures will not sell well. If the game does not look better or play better than the figures do than Nintendo may ultimately end up regretting letting Ubisoft have the license for this game. We have seen Nintendo try to crossover before like with the Skylanders figures made for Donkey Kong and Bowser which also were not a huge hit with Nintendo fans overall but this seems like a worse move and will be even less successful in my opinion. That isn’t to say that I’m down on Nintendo or worried about an experiment like this. It was a gamble that might pay off for Nintendo financially. They just need to be careful that it doesn’t hurt their overall brands in the long run.
Those are my thoughts on these new Nintendo figures and even with my lack of excitement towards these figures, maybe if they go on sale, I’ll pick one up and review them at some point. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these new figures or even this game as it is quite an unusual one in Nintendo’s library. Please comment below and join in the conversation!