Against all odds, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a charming and bizarre success, fusing Nintendo’s megastar mascot Mario with Ubisoft’s uninspiring little bunny oddball and combining them with turn-based strategy. put into the game. Whether Ubisoft, which spearheaded the project, could capture the unspeakable Nintendo magic while borrowing some of the company’s most iconic characters was an open question. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope sets its sights high and is not only a surprisingly good Mario spin-off, it’s also justifiably better than Nintendo’s own recent game starring a down-to-earth plumber.
Like the original, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is very strange. It occupies a parallel version of the Mushroom Kingdom where Mario and his friends casually interact with Rabbid’s doppelgangers, many of them packing heat, albeit in abstract, bubblegum packaging. It’s uncomfortable, but Mario and his friends are too polite to say anything. Upon discovering Spark, a new life form that is apparently a rabbit fused with one of Rosalina’s Luma’s girlfriends, Rosalina quickly realizes something must be wrong because she will never allow that to happen to her baby. you can see. The tacit understanding that being a Rabid Mutant is a terrible destiny got a good laugh out of me right out of the jump.
This shows how Ubisoft approaches the overall tone. While reverent and respectful of Mario’s lore, he’s cocky and self-aware about his own creation of Rabbids. Mario and his friends are video game royalty, and the cast includes literal cosmic goddesses. Rabbids were always annoyed. It was kind of a joke. They’re not the same, and the game recognizes that, juxtaposing the two to amazing comedic effect.
Of course, the existential weirdness goes beyond the characters themselves. It’s a turn-based strategy game, similar to other tactical series like XCOM, but almost unrecognizable in this presentation. Deploying your forces and choosing when to hide or gain the upper hand is key. But this time, the added freedom of movement is a big upgrade in positioning. Whereas Kingdom Battle used a grid-based movement system, Sparks of Hope allows Mario to run around the environment almost as naturally as his platformer, perfecting the familiar sense of momentum. I’m here.
This seemingly minor change has a big impact on how the game handles, making it feel smooth and dynamic. You can move around as much as you want and within that boundary you have degrees of freedom until you execute an attack command and lock it. You can launch slide attacks on enemies, chain jumps off your teammates’ shoulders, or even double back with a well-thought-out positioning choice. and action phases very easily. It all feels so natural that I usually didn’t even mind the lack of a jump button.
Other major gameplay enhancements come from the classic Sparks itself. These are interchangeable equipment types that allow you to equip your troops with special abilities. These can range from primary elemental attacks to area-of-effect buffs or even rarer traits.
Specified as a sniper, Luigi has the longest range and increased damage for shots from a distance. I equipped him with an ether ring. This is a spark that can trigger temporary cloaking his device. This felt like a natural fit for him, as Luigi’s bow weakens as enemies close in on him with gaps closed, so being invisible allows him to stay out of the fray and be the most I was able to stay within a distance where I could do damage. The cloaking allowed Luigi to bypass smaller enemies to get a better perspective of high priority targets during boss fights. gave me precious time to exhaust the
Bowser, on the other hand, is best at mid-range, so he got the Exosphere, a spark that can increase his defense within the area of effect. My de facto team Mario, his leader, buffs everyone’s attacks with Starburst, and Woozer spawns slime his creatures with his master, effectively adding an AI-controlled companion to the ranks. did. Best Tactical Some battles, like his combat game, are won or lost by decisions between rounds. Play around with different Spark combinations and plan how they can augment your strengths or dampen your weaknesses. Like a Mario game, it’s a flexible system that influences decisions while remaining simple and straightforward.
There’s also a lot more variety when it comes to exploring the world outside of combat. Kingdom Battle’s overworld was colorful enough and looked like part of a mushroom kingdom, but it was basically a straight road and not very interesting to explore. Sparks of Hope tackles this problem head-on with his five open planets filled with environmental puzzles and optional mini-battles. Mario gets almost a page out of Zelda in these moments, as puzzles often revolve around placing blocks or managing moving platforms. Gives cooldown time to focus on solving. Knowing the solution can sometimes lead to tedious work as you have to move widgets back and forth between locations. For the most part, though, they’re a welcome change of pace.
Combat is still a big part of the experience, and it’s a big improvement over its predecessor. The combat environment is well designed to take advantage of the player’s movement options, allowing you to mix and match different enemies for new combinations of challenges. Sparks of Hope also uses the flexibility of combat and the Sparks system to present different kinds of challenges and boss fights, encouraging you to consider new approaches and plan your moves more carefully. Often forced. There’s nothing quite like the “hahaha” moment when solving a difficult combat puzzle. This game offers that moment at a constant pace.
Candy-coated Mario wrapping doesn’t come at the expense of its tactical goodwill. But it’s still a Mario game, and it aims to be approachable for players of all skill levels. ‘Average’ difficulty is good for those who have cut their teeth on other tactical games, but ‘Relax’ mode dials it back while presenting ample challenge to beginners, and ‘Demand’ mode is extremely challenging. It’s difficult. If that’s not enough, you can adjust individual settings such as enemy aggression, whether (and how much) health recovers after battle, or make your character invincible with a single toggle setting. You can also.
All this is complemented by an interesting and shockingly sweet storyline. The upcoming Mario movie looms large as an animated adaptation of a classic character, so this game shows you how to create a sharp and funny Saturday morning cartoon out of these characters. When Bowser joined the party, he said that the villain Katha stole the army of fools. I’ve often found even Rabbids offended by a character’s antics. especially Rabbids. I came to love Edge, a self-conscious, serious hero, not just because her sword-throwing attack was useful in combat and objectively badass. , was moved at various moments, and at one point its sheer optimism was fogged up.
Simply put, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is an absolute delight. It’s a combination that shouldn’t work, but it’s better than it does. When Ubisoft announced Kingdom Battle, the concept seemed so silly that its success came as a surprise. And the fight against flexibility has been improved in every meaningful way. Ubisoft loves and respects these characters, and it’s clear that even something as familiar and comfortable as Mario can surprise us time and time again.
https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/mario-rabbids-sparks-of-hope-review-this-sparks-joy/1900-6417985/?ftag=CAD-01-10abi2f Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope Review – This Sparks Joy