With bigger adventures, a larger setting and more tactical possibilities, the sequel to the surprise crossover tactics game Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Sparks of Hope, expands the game in all the right places.
In August of 2017 fans of Mario and Ubisoft were blessed with a wacky collaboration between the beloved plumber and Ubisoft’s Rabbids in the turn-based RPG game, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, where the Super Mario characters went on a journey to save the Mushroom Kingdom from the unhinged, mischievous Rabbids with the help of their Rabbid counterparts.
Developed by Ubisoft Paris and Ubisoft Milan and later published by Ubisoft for the Nintendo Switch, the hilarious and enjoyable game was loved by fans of all ages from its initial reception, and now they are getting a second game that is going to be extending further into the galaxy and bringing us much more entertainment.
The hilarious and enjoyable game was loved by fans of all ages from the initial reception and now they are getting a second game that is going to be extending further into the galaxy and bringing us much more entertainment.
The new game is the next entry in the Mario + Rabbids franchise and features an even wider world than the first game with continued turn-based tactical combat and free character movement. The developers took inspiration from the Super Mario Galaxy games and feature most of the characters from the original game as they go on an adventure across the galaxy to rescue the adorable sparks (the result of the fusion of Lumas and Rabbids) and save the universe from its untimely destruction.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope explores more of a dark side to the Mario universe, clear in the eerier feeling and slightly more angsty tone. New and original characters will have to work together to save their world from an unknown malevolent entity. Mario is even getting some help from a couple of unexpected new allies, like Bowser (who is only helping out so he can regain control of his weak-minded army who are under the evil influence of the main antagonist’s power).
In Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, we are introduced to the Sparks, a group of star-like creatures each with their own distinct powers, who we quickly learn are in danger when the ghostly hands of an unknown hand crushes a couple of sparks and then absorbs their powers. This is the villain that goes by the name of Cursa, and she is on a mission to grow more powerful and consume all the energy in the universe as well as the energy of the sparks, which will further her reign.
We then venture to the calmer land of the Mushroom Kingdom where Mario and the gang meets a couple of sparks, and it’s not long before their own world is overrun with Cursa’s energy (which is known as Dark Mass), an evil sticky substance that is consuming the environment around it, along with the characters and creatures that those environments home.
Mario and his friends band together to form the most extravagant team of heroes and go on a galactic journey across a variety of planets to rescue the sparks, defeat the different enemies that Cursa sends after them and free their galaxy from her nefarious plans. Along the way, they meet a couple of interesting characters that need their help and will send them on quests that will allow players to further explore the extensive world and further crack the mysteries thrown at them on their journey.
In order to fully understand and appreciate Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, we must look back at the 2017 release.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is the first Mario + Rabbids title and tells the story of how the two worlds first merged. At the beginning, we’re met by the Rabbids who have just discovered the SupaMerge headset (a visor that fuses two objects into one) and have used it to create numerous Rabbid infused objects, including Rabbid Peach, Rabbid Mario, and the rest of the Super Mario characters.
The Time Washing Machine (which the Rabbids used to get to the SupaMerge) begins to malfunction and send the Rabbids and Beep-0 to the Mushroom Kingdom, where they interrupt the inauguration of Princess Peach’s new statue with a vortex that sucks Mario and the rest in. As everyone lands scattered throughout the kingdom, The Rabbid with the SupaMerge fuses with it, and Beep-0 gains rabbit ears and a bucktooth outline.
Beep-0 is almost crushed but Mario is quick to save him from what would have been an unfortunate fate and together the two of them make their way back to the Mushroom Kingdom, meeting Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Luigi along the way and fighting off a bunch of Ziggies with weapons that appeared out of nowhere from a mysterious F.B.
With his team slowly growing Mario continues his journey and eventually, he bumps into Luigi and the Rabbid with the SupaMerge, who they learn is prone to merging objects when he is scared by something when he merges a Rabbid with the Piranha Plant it was playing with, now a Pirabbid Plant. Luigi joins them after they defeat the Pirabbid Plant (returning the merged creatures to their original forms) and Beep-0 notices the vortex (named the Megabug) has gotten bigger.
Bowser Jr, who had watched the events with the Pirabbid Plant, decides to befriend the Rabbid with the SupaMerge and names him Spawny, figuring he can use the Rabbid’s powers to take over the Mushroom Kingdom.
While Mario’s team continues on their journey, they learn that every defeated enemy causes the Megabug to enlarge. Bad news for the Mushroom Kingdom, which is situated directly under the Megabug. Soon they come across a frozen Rabbid Mario and begin to look for ways to unfreeze him, but their efforts are interrupted by Bowser Jr and Spawny, who is used to create Blizzy and Sandy (Rabbids that have been merged with ice and sand to create two mini storms). The heroes defeat both of them easily and free Rabbid Mario in the process, who is quick to join the rag-tag team of adventurers.
Unfortunately, the group gets frozen by an Icicle Golem during their unsuccessful fight, but Princess Peach is there to save the day and with her help, they eventually defeat the monster.
Now needing to defeat Bowser Jr before he gets up to any further shenanigans they follow the instructions of a mysterious third party, who guides them to find a Boo-shaped balloon and a gramophone (Relics of Goodness) to wake up “Tom Phan”, a person the mysterious guide claims will be able to defeat Bowser Jr. It turns out they need a full moon to wake him up and on their journey to find a way to make one happen they bump into Calavera, who is in possession of a trapped Rabbid Yoshi.
The team works together to defeat Calavera and Rabbid Yoshi joins the adventure to help the ever-growing team. They finally arrive at a clock tower and turn it back until they bring back the full moon. Now able to cross through the opened Moon Gate, they do so after being given an invite by their helper and discover that it was Bowser Jr the whole time. He scares Spawny and uses him to fuse the Relic of Goodness with another Rabbid, creating a Phantom that he leaves for Mario and his team to defeat.
After they deal with the Phantom, the team travels to the Lava Pits where they battle Bowser Jr in his Mecha and defeat him. The defeat causes Spawny to fall to his end while Bowser Jr escapes, but Spawny is saved by Yoshi, who happily joins the team.
They return a regretful Spawny to safety and plan to make an exit through the crystal mine, but at that point, the Megabug has grown large enough to develop a phoenix-like form and it attracts and absorbs Spawny, before flying off to Bowser’s castle. Bowser Jr berates the team for letting the Megabug get away with Spawny and is thankful that his father is still away, but that soon turns into panic when his father tells him that he’s coming home early.
Bowser Jr and the team travel to Bowser’s castle, defeating Bwario and Bwaluigi (Rabbids who had been merged with Wario and Waluigi) along the way. They get to the castle where they find the Megabug and a barely conscious Bowser, who fuses with it to create the MegaDragonBowser. The team defeats the MegaDragonBowser (which frees Bowser) and then the MegaBug, destroying it and bringing back Spawny, who Bowser Jr brings to the team, thanking them for all they had done and promising that he would be better in the future. He asks them to talk to Bowser for him so that he might get into less trouble, but the team returns to Princess Peach’s Castle instead, letting her people know that the danger was over and now inaugurating a statue of Rabbid Peach, who takes a selfie with the group.
At the end of everything, Beep-0 is shown sending a letter and weapons through the Time Washing Machine to his past self, revealing to the audience that F.B. stands for Future Beep-0.
When most fans think of Mario games, they think of platformers, like Super Mario Odyssey or Super Mario 3D World. And while, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope has elements of this built-in to the overall game, the gameplay is a lot different. The simplest and easiest way to describe it would to be compare it to a modern game of Chess, where players take turns moving characters across a large board.
That’s right, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is still a tactical turn-based game, but unlike the previous game, players will be able to explore different areas of the many worlds and the story freely rather than in the linear fashion of the first game. This is great for players who might want to avoid battles until they are fully ready to take on enemies.
When it comes to battles players have to come in contact with their enemies and will then be launched into the battle in a similar fashion to pokemon, where players are taken to a different environment for their battle encounter. Said battle will no longer take place in a gridded arena. Players will now be able to move their characters freely through the battlefield before making their moves. The play has been described to be more “fluid” and “action-packed” while still keeping to the original game’s tactical elements and real-time decision-making.
Every character has different weapons and fight styles, and thus their own tactical advantage against enemies. Make sure that when facing off during an encounter you pick the correct characters to go up against your enemies.
Sparks have also become integral to both the story and the gameplay. They can be used to give your characters boosts that will help them defeat their enemies and bring Mario and the team to victory once again.
Cristina Nava, the associate producer for Ubisoft Milan has said, “We expanded the gameplay in exploration. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle’s worlds were like corridors in many ways, they were very linear – in structure but also in progression terms and the story. Here, we’re being much more ambitious. You can tackle challenges, battles, and the main quest in the order you see fit. There really is an open world to explore in Sparks of Hope.”
Players will now also have to solve and play through missions provided to them by different characters in the game, each one unlocking new explorable areas and interesting game features that bring a level of interest to the already intriguing game. The feature Team Jump, in which characters use their teammates as a trampoline, can be used to get to higher places in the explorable world and brings Beep-0 into combat, allowing him to bring you to a difficult-to-reach area and to stomp on different enemies.
The new gameplay changes in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope make both exploring and combat a lot more fun.
The new game will include a multitude of playable and non-playable characters, all of which bring their own quirks and advantages to the table.
Playable characters in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope will include Mario, Rabbid Mario, Luigi, Rabbid Luigi, Princess Peach, and Rabbid Peach, along with a couple of new playable characters, like Rabbid Rosalina (a Rabbid with a Mario counterpart who we meet in Super Mario Galaxy, but haven’t yet seen in any trailers for the new game). Rabbid Rosalina is shown to be very lazy and not particularly excited to be saving the galaxy.
Then there’s also Rabbid Edge, a Rabbid without a Mario counterpart, who has funky green and black hair and wears punk-style clothes. Her character is seen wielding an epic sword in the trailers and impressing Mario and co.
And, one of the more unexpected allies, Bowser.
Together the Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope characters form the dream team that will travel across the universe on a galactic journey to new planets and uncover many mysterious secrets.
Non-Player Characters include characters like Captain Orion (brand new to the franchise and a major part of the story. He is a military captain and is the one who assigns the team their missions), Professor Backpack (another face that is new to the franchise and will be a major part of the story. He will assist the team in numerous ways and appears to be an archaeologist) and Augie (also new to the franchise and set to be a major part of the story. He is slightly dim-witted and scared – unideal traits for a warrior – but he is more than ready to assist the team in any way he can).
The enemies will consist of characters like Cursa and her army of familiar enemies (consisting of multiple enemies regular Super Mario players will recognize from across the game and the odd Rabbid merges) and Spark Hunters (such as Midnite and a selection of other creatures), who will act as new bosses and provide intense boss battles for players.
In the cinematic trailer for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope that launched a couple of days ago, we see the selection of playable characters on their ship as they fly toward Cursa in their final journey to defeat her. Upon finding her they are met with a massive battle and together they face the enemies thrown at them, each using their own special abilities and boosts granted to them by their spark companions. Even Bowser is shown to be joining in the attack, briefly surprising Mario before the plumber launches into action.
Defeating evil and discovering the deeper secret behind the overwhelming evil, is going to be a difficult task for Mario and his friends, but not an impossible one.
Players can expect to see the upcoming Mario + Rabbids title arrive on October 20th. Fans of the Rabbids can also get excited about the upcoming DLC packs, which will even feature Rayman (a popular game character whose spin-off game led to the Rabbids becoming their own thing that eventually surpassed him).
Final Thoughts on Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
As mentioned before, Sparks of Hope really expands on everything that made Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle great. There’s a lot more to love about the sequel, which is full of charm and funny, lighthearted, heartwarming moments. While it is probably aimed at kids, adults will fall in love with the characters and the fun and addictive carefree gameplay. It’s the type of game that won’t cause you any stress or headaches, which is perfect for those who wish to be entertained while relaxing.
In addition to this, Sparks of Hope feels like an improved blend between Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. This means that the developers have upgraded the adventure factor quite a bit by allowing you to explore the world and pursue cool sidequests, similar to the ones you’d find in other Mario titles.
Everything you do in the new game feels rewarding too. Whether it’s collecting Planet Coins to purchase new cosmetic items, unlocking areas or Sparks to equip, everything serves a purpose and helps players feel truly immersed in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. You’ll want to complete every task, defeat every enemy and explore every last secret the world has to offer.
And with so many different characters to choose from, each with their own set of skills and abilities, play style during the colourful battles could vary completely on every replay of the game. Of course, that means that Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope has much more playtime — even beyond its Story Mode.
And any title that gives you your money’s worth by offering hours of fun, charm, and adventure deserves to be celebrated. Well done, Ubisoft. Well done, Nintendo. Unfortunately, if Switch titles remain this good, we won’t see a new console for quite some time.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
5 years after the original game was released, Ubisoft and Nintendo have added a new spark to the franchise with Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. With greater freedom to explore, an improved tactical system, and really fun characters to choose from, it is a truly fantastic addition to the Nintendo Switch catalogue.