Team up with Mario, Rabbid Peach and their friends on a cosmic journey to defeat Cursa and save the galaxy in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. You’ll explore planets throughout the universe that are filled with strange inhabitants, memorable quests and hilarious secrets—exclusively for Nintendo Switch.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Details
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Ubisoft Milan and Ubisoft Paris
ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
A sequel, but not really?
What becomes blatantly obvious when you first load up Sparks of Hope is that this experience is borrowing very little from the original. Sure, it is mostly the same wacky cast, and yes, you are battling in tactical, arena style combat. After that, however, the similarities quickly fade. This change in philosophy from Ubisoft is calculated, however. Kingdom Battle borrowed heavily from games like XCOM, and what Ubisoft probably found out quickly is that not everyone is a fan of that genre of games.
Admittedly, I wouldn’t call myself the biggest fan of tactical strategy games either, but Kingdom Battle packaged it differently. It was intriguing enough to play, and simplistic enough to finish, while providing a challenge. Still, something had to give in a second experience based in the same universe, and those changes make Sparks of Hope a much more accessible experience.
Saving the world
Don’t expect the most epic story you’ve ever played. While Ubisoft is fantastic at storytelling, Mario + Rabbids does the bare minimum in creating a story that propels you forward. The world has been taken over by Cursa, who has smothered multiple planets in the galaxy with Darkmess. The Darkmess is wreaking havoc on local ecosystems, making some planets freeze over, and others continually impacted by torrential downpours.
Your group of heroes – led by Mario and Rabbid Peach – must move from planet to planet, removing the Darkmess, and slowly propelling them forward towards Cursa’s fortress. Each planet has a warden who needs your help, and I ultimately found that each planet has its own story for you to explore. At times, I felt myself more connected to the plight of the local rabbids on the planet than I did with the main goal of the mission, defeating Cursa.
They all have distinct powers and personalities, ranging from energy shields to powerful elemental attacks.
A beautiful world to explore
While the Save the World storyline might feel a bit familiar, the world you save is beautifully detailed. Gone is the incredibly linear style used in Kingdom Battle. Sparks of Hope provides 5 beautiful planets to explore, with tons of side quests to unlock and complete, memories to find, challenges to finish, and so much more. While some may be disappointed that completing everything the game has to offer might take a bit more searching this time around, the love and charm around every corner makes it worth it.
The world is brought to life with outstanding sound effects and a fantastic score. While the music won’t run all the time, it’s used in just the right spots. When not playing, the soft sound of falling rain, and the sounds of wind whistling through a mountain range is delightful and fitting.
When I said previously that Sparks of Hope was more accessible than ever, I meant that. With multiple difficulty levels, even the youngest of Mario fans can make their way through each battle, and through each planet. Gone are the grid based tactical battle fields as well. A more traditional free movement is incorporated in Sparks of Hope, which allows players to move within a space, never worrying about movement points. While there are limits to your movement, where you position yourself doesn’t seem as important (tactically) as it did in Kingdom Battle. Familiar movies like dashing enemies and team jumps are back again, but with a slight twist.
Enemies in Sparks of Hope can be useful when dashed. For example, dashing a bomb-omb doesn’t actually kill it, but makes it begin to tick. They can then be picked up and tossed towards other enemies, doing damage to them as well. All of which is done without spending any action points, which are important for shooting and performing other skills.
The skills available have also been improved from Kingdom Battle and are bolstered with brand new Spark abilities. For those familiar with Mario Galaxy, Lumas have landed in Mario + Rabbids, albeit in Rabbid form. Each character can equip a unique Luma who will provide a variety of type-enhanced bonuses. Strategically matching characters and Lumas is great fun, with each providing unique benefits that will be key in certain situations.
There is so much more available that you can explore for yourself when the game launches. My best piece of advice, however, is to always be experimenting with different items, weapons, Sparks, and more.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope weaves in new and exciting features
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope takes what worked from Kingdom Battle and weaves in new and exciting features. I really did enjoy Kingdom Battle, but everything about Sparks of Hope is better, outside of the decision to leave Yoshi off the character roster.
If you found Kingdom Battle a bit too niche for your liking, despite having Mario characters, I think Sparks of Hope will be more your speed. This incredibly polished experience will quickly climb the ranks of the best Nintendo Switch games currently available.
+ Beautifully detailed open worlds
+ Fantastic audio, from soundtracks to weather
+ Accessible controls and difficulty levels
– Where did Yoshi go?
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF MARIO + RABBIDS SPARKS OF HOPE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5