Back in August of last year, the people who scoffed at the idea of Mario joining forces with Ubisoft's Rabbids were silenced when the fantastic Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was released for Nintendo Switch, proving to the industry that risks can sometimes pay off in a big way. And now that the game has wormed its way into the hearts and minds of Switch owners, Nintendo and Ubisoft are back to deliver even more content, this time bringing another icon into the mix: Donkey Kong.
The new DLC, called Donkey Kong Adventure, starts off with that damn washing machine causing trouble again. The same one that messes up the world in the base game transports Rabbid Peach (and some others, perhaps) to another world, where she meets the big bad ape himself and Rabbid Cranky. As you might have noticed, this means that there's no Mario in sight, leaving this trio to hog the limelight all by themselves.
It should be said before anything else that despite the DLC being accessible from the main menu straight away as a separate package, we'd strongly advise playing through the base game first. If you remember, playing through the main game layers on mechanics gradually throughout, and a lot of these are put to use with assumed prior knowledge in the DLC. As a matter of fact, the only tutorials this monkey-mad package really gives are for the brand new features it introduces, so trust us when we say it'll drive you bananas if you dive straight in without a clue. Hell, you'll probably be lost in terms of story without the base game too.
Like before, new gameplay elements are gradually layered on rather than dumped in front of you, the first of which gives you a taste of the basic attacks of Cranky and Donkey. DK, first of all, has a banana as his ranged weapon, which can deal an a-peel-ing amount of damage and also hit multiple enemies if they're lined up nicely, like a yellow boomerang. On top of that he also has a lot of health points; another AOE attack that pounds the ground near him; an ability that hits enemies on the move (like we've seen with Mario); and of course his bongo drums to lure enemies near him.
We expected the elderly Cranky to be a little meagre in comparison, but he actually packs a mighty punch, with his crossbow working a little like a shotgun i.e. lots of spread but lethal damage when up close and personal. He can also launch a barrel that explodes near enemies, send them to sleep with a Long Story ability, and can also hit enemies on the move. Peach, on the other hand, is very much the same as in the base game, except with a few more advanced weapons to bring her up to speed with her new best friends.
It's not just new ways to batter your enemies from pillar to post that are included with the adventure though, but also new locations, as we're treated to a selection of new areas, most of which are bright and sunny and revolve around the tropical theme, much like the ape's other recent outing in Tropical Freeze. There's a delightfully pleasant Caribbean soundtrack alongside the golden beaches and palm trees, so if you're playing this on the way to work it might just brighten up your journey a tad.
There are new enemies and objectives to consider as well, and one example is a level that tasks you with destroying tainted bananas on the map, which are giving the big bad villain all his power. There are also enemies like Smugglers, as well as water-spitting environmental hazards, so the beauty of this DLC lies not only in the fact that there's new content, but that this is added in a meaningful way that requires you to actively switch up your approach to each fight.
Donkey Kong also brings with him new ways to navigate the battlefield, as with blue ramps he can swing great distances and he can also climb, making it even easier to get up close and personal with the pesky Rabbid resistance. Trust us, you'll need to be doing this too, as Donkey has a melee focus, epitomised by the fact he can throw enemies, allies, and items (like explosive cover) to manage the battlefield, meaning that nobody is safe when he's monkeying around.
As you go on you'll also be able to upgrade each of these characters in major ways too, whether it's making a deadlier ape by increasing throwing distance, damage, and health, or even making sure you can heal enemies from a greater distance as Peach. What's more is you can buy other weapons by collecting bananas as well, like a telephone for Donkey Kong, and all of this continues the progression you'll have seen in the base game.
Again, if you've played the base game you'll no doubt be unsurprised to hear that there are light puzzles throughout, requiring you to activate coloured switches, push blocks, and navigate pipes to snag hidden collectables and extras. None of this is too taxing, but you'll be required to explore high and low to 100% complete the whole thing, so they allow you to monkey around a bit when you're not enacting out your colourful Xcom-esque firefights.
We're kind of disappointed to end the review without more tortured monkey puns in there, but what we're not disappointed with is the Donkey Kong Adventure expansion. Far from it. This new DLC expansion adds new content in a meaningful way rather than simply being new for variety's sake, and offers a totally fresh experience well worthy of the £12 asking price. We didn't even miss Mario's moustachioed face, and that's saying something.