Nintendo and Ubisoft extend E3 partnership

A Donkey Kong expansion for the critically and commercially successful "Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle" and a Fox McCloud cameo in "Starlink: Battle for Atlas" show Nintendo and Ubisoft continuing an atypical relationship.

Nintendo and Ubisoft have been courting each other since "Just Dance" became an enormous hit on the Nintendo Wii.

The two games companies magnified their public appreciation of each other at 2017's Electronic Entertainment Expo, when Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto appeared at the Ubisoft conference to announce crossover project "Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle."

That cordiality extended to E3 in 2018, with not just "Mario + Rabbids" but new prospect "Starlink" featuring.

The peculiar blend of Mario's Mushroom Kingdom with the irreverent lupine alien Rabbids, together with a turn-based strategy concept more commonly associated with cerebrality than accessibility, proved popular enough that a Donkey Kong expansion is on its way.

Developed by Ubisoft studios in Paris and Milan, "Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure" arrives June 26, whisking players off to new locations inspired by Nintendo's beloved "Donkey Kong Country" series.

Shigeru Miyamoto, responsible for 1981's original "Donkey Kong," once more guested at Ubisoft's June 11 presentation, though not for the Mario + Rabbids section.

That was celebrated by a live rendition of "Donkey Kong" musical themes to accompany the expansion's trailer, as conducted by composer Grant Kirkhope (

Instead, Miyamoto was nearby to bless a different Nintendo crossover.

Nintendo has a reputation for being notoriously protective of its characters, but Ubisoft's sci-fi themed toy and video game hybrid, October's "Starlink: Battle for Atlas," would feature the lead character from "Star Fox" in the Nintendo Switch version of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game.

Miyamoto joined Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot to loud cheers from the assembled audience (, receiving a scale model of a "Star Fox" spaceship from the Ubisoft man, after a breathless introduction from the game's creative director that recalled similar high emotions during 2017's equivalent guest spot (