Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope blends tactical gameplay with Super Mario and Raving Rabbids-themed chaos, and it’s clearly designed to build on its predecessor Kingdom Battle. I’ve always been a Mario fan, but on the other hand, bunnies always frustrate me a bit. However, Sparks of Hope seems like a wacky strategy title that could change things.
When I first played Kingdom Battle, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t about having bunnies dress up as peach to fight alongside Mario and use turn-based tactics as they colonized the mushroom kingdom.
What can I expect from Mario + Rabbit Fire of Hope fans lately. Ultimately, it promises more of the same mind-bending tactics and nonsense, albeit adding more confusion.
Spark of Hope has a bigger story and even bigger characters
Davide Solani, creative director of Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, describes the game as a “tactical adventure” where players will “be able to experience a whole new gameplay with real-time action and strategy at its core”.
While Kingdom Battle follows Mario’s attempt to rescue the bunnies from a powerful device that caused them to become disorderly (more than normal, anyway), the spark of hope requires slightly more interstellar turns. The universe is suddenly in trouble when the mysterious entity Cursa begins trying to harvest energy from the titular Sparks, a fusion of Rabbids and Loomas. So much so that even Bowser struggled to fight them.
The story behind Kingdom Wars really puts the game down. But if you love zoomed-in bunnies, tactical combat, and beautiful worlds, it’s easy to overlook. However, what seems so promising about the spark of hope is that the story seems to be much more developed. We have to save not only the Rabbids and our heroes, but the entire universe in Sparks of Hope.
Throughout the Spark of Hope, it’s up to Mario and his partners. Stop Cursa and bring the universe back to normal. Perhaps one of the most surprising revelations about the game is that Mario will be working alongside his longtime foe Bowser. Bowser had no choice but to enlist Mario’s help against Cusa so they could get back to Mario’s shenanigans against Bowser, David Soriani explained, Bowser’s stance on his army. The recovery will be “explosive” with a humble smile. Considering Bowser has a massive cannon, we can certainly expect Koopa King’s debut to be a sensation.
When it comes to characters, there’s no doubt that Rabbit often steals the show. Not only are these crazy bunny aliens humorous, but they also have some unique individuals that players will no doubt find themselves fascinated by.
Captain Orion will give you quests to explore all the galaxy has to offer, Rabbid Rosalina debuts as a playable character, and Edge is another new, mysterious Rabbid companion. With sharp teeth and a sharper haircut, Edge’s weapon of choice is clearly a sword.
Another new non-playable character, who may well end up being a personal favorite, also happens to be one of Cursa’s many minions. A r abbit-pig hybrid carrying a Thwomp movement. They’re cute, but they can also become nightmare fuel if you stare at them for too long. Either way, there are plenty of characters to love or hate, and I’m looking forward to what the community consensus might be.
Another satisfying fusion between the Mario and Rabbit universes
It’s still weird to see a beloved character fire an armed weapon, usually, just stomping on the head is enough, but a winning combo can still get you a satisfying stomp. Seeing the incredibly clear fusion between the worlds of Rabbids and Mario like this feels very fulfilling, while offering a nice change of pace compared to other Super Mario and Raving Rabbids games.
I’ve always associated Rabbids games with Discord, and this is the funniest. The same goes for Mario, but the platforming structure of most Mario games makes the game feel more orderly than Rabbids games.
Combining the two further showcases a unique blend of gameplay by allowing players to explore Mario-like levels while engaging in turn-based combat with unique abilities. Kingdom War footage is back again, giving you the best view of what’s going on on the battlefield and somehow immersing you in this fun world.
According to the preview footage shared with us, Hope Sparks is set in a large, wacky universe full of surprises. This massive setting, the result of a fusion of the Mario and Rabbit universes, seems to be packed with familiar minions, but there are also plenty of new attractions to see. It’s a messy crossover, but Ubisoft has managed to weave the two worlds together – dare I say it – perfectly. Even in combat, there are plumbers’ pipes to the rescue, making Mario’s gun-wielding feel less weird. So far, everything about Fire of Hope feels inherently Mario and Rabid.
Not only does it look and feel amazing, but you can tell it’s been made with a lot of focus on the collections involved. It’s certainly easy to turn the Mario + Rabbid combo universe into a big buck, but Spark of Hope feels like a game about Mario and Rabbid by someone who also loves Mario and Rabbid. Talent creation.
Music was a particular element highlighted at the event by creative director Davide Soliani (which I’ll get to later), explaining that music is the key to bringing these worlds to life. Music can be an essential part of any game, but without the flickering tones or combat themes we’ve briefly learned about, the battlefield and surrounding terrain can feel dull, and that’s one thing Hope Sparks certainly refuses.
That being said, Fire of Hope will feature music composed by an exceptional team of composers: Grant Kirkhope (Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, Perfect Dark), Gareth Coker (Ori and the Blind Forest, ARK: Survival Evolved, Halo) Infinite), and last but not least, Yoko Shimomura (Super Mario RPG, Parasite Eve, Xenoblade Chronicles). Needless to say, Hope Spark’s score is the last thing any player needs to worry about when it comes to all three.
Gameplay is largely the same, with different characters, environments, and weapons feeling fresh
During an exclusive viewing of the game, we also saw Mario soaring in a spaceship. Right now, no one’s saying if Mario will actually be able to get into spaceflight, hopefully he won’t, because frankly, we have enough games that involve space coming out next year.
We do know that Hope Sparks will have multiple worlds, from the beaches of Bob-Ombs to the snow-capped grottoes, with plenty to see and plenty of opportunities to explore freely outside of combat. Just like Kingdom Battle, Spark of Hope will also give you direct control over three heroes of your choice in these worlds, and combining their abilities will be very important to the fight.
Combat follows the same style as Kingdom Battle, being tactical, real-time, and turn-based. The next attacker and where to attack is entirely up to you, or whether you line up three heroes for a bold and rewarding combination.
Each character has their own unique weapons or various abilities at your disposal, and you must keep that in mind along with battlefield positioning to ensure victory. Combat shouldn’t get boring either, as new threats are regularly exposed on the battlefield and new moves or characters are introduced to fight them.
Speaking of the unveiling of Unknown Threats, you’ll want to watch out for a variety of enemies outside of Cursa’s minions, but also be aware that many of them can also be used by your squad in combat.
Not only do we see Mario fleeing from Bob Orm, but we also see him throw them at enemies; it will be exciting to see how other enemies can be exploited in this way. I sure wish I could launch a Goomba on the battlefield, that’s for sure. Likewise, Sparks can be used to benefit your team.
The hybrid between these cute little bunnies and Lumas does seem a bit odd at first, but they help heroes harness their power and give battles another dimension not found in Kingdom Battle.
Combat certainly feels like it has more options now, and it looks like putting together a team that complements each other will be very important to successfully clear the fight and save the galaxy. Combined with the beautiful but changing world at hand, navigating the spark of hope and defeating Kusa seems like a dynamic adventure, with plenty of fascinating and fun ways to stand out.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is a promising sequel that easily surpasses its predecessor
Overall, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope feels like an infusion of Super Mario Galaxy and Rayman Raving Rabbids. As you save the Sparks, take control of the Rabbits, and bring the galaxy back to normal, the story echoes what most of us have played before, albeit with a tactical twist.
Galaxy is an absolute ball, and I welcome Sparks of Hope with open arms; I’ll undoubtedly do better in turn-based combat than I’ve done in later Galaxy levels, that’s for sure.
While my performance in Mario + Rabbit Kingdom Battle was lackluster, I have higher hopes for the next installment. Everything — the environment, characters, combat, narrative — feels more developed, and the crafting from the Ubisoft team feels so homey. Fans who can’t stop raving about Kingdom Wars should probably get ready for Spark of Hope to be their new obsession. let’s go!
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