With a release scheduled for October 20 on Nintendo Switch, Mario + The Rabbids Sparks of Hope is establishing itself as one of the essentials of this end of the year.
Remember in 2017, Nintendo surprised its audience by launching Mario + The Rabbids Kingdom Battle. If the Japanese giant has never shunned his pleasure for improbable crossovers involving his mustachioed plumber, this tactical turn-based with regressive graphics and perfectly oiled mechanics has established itself as a reference of the genre. It was therefore logical for Big N to put the cover back. After several years of development, Ubisoft thinks big with Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope.
This time, the enemy changes face: it is no longer a question of Bowser, but of an evil and mysterious entity known as Cursa. The latter will disrupt the daily life of Mario, Peach, Luigi and their double cretins, while the small group develops a rescue mission to shelter the Sparks, born from the fusion between a Luma and a rabbit.
The sequel we weren’t expecting Bwaaah
As expected with a game involving Rabbids, Ubisoft did not skimp on the second degree for the return of Rayman’s lunar enemies. It must be said that since their party-game released last June, the characters had been rather discreet on consoletheir last appearance dating back to 2017 with Mario + The Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Now having become recurring figures in the Mario universe, the lagomorphs have not said their last word, and intend to stupefy their audience a little more. A godsend for the players, who will find with pleasure wacky humor who made licensing the success we know.
If the Rabbids are as dumb as (not so) wickedthis new adventure is a real tour de force for the characters born in 2006. As with Kingdom Battle, Sparks of Hope succeeds in an explosive mix of genres, and it is clear that the game hits the mark. The gameplay shines with its intelligence (we’ll come back to this), and the presence of a five-star cast, born from the merger between two of the most famous licenses of family video games, signs an additional success for the game. From the first minutes , we feel that the developers wanted to do things right, and that the return of the kings of stupidity looks great.
Open exploration: the flight of the Sparks
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope does not invent anything on the mechanical side: as for its previous part, the title is based on tactical turn-based battles on a set board. The objective will be to overcome Cursa and his minions by combining the forces of your characters to attack, counter, or dodge when necessary. On this point in particular, the gameplay is once again very successful. The first opus was already a success, it is clear that the new features implemented by the Ubisoft teams are hitting the mark. In combat, the disappearance of squares thus makes it possible to move much more freely on the map. Movements become free, as well as charges and team jumps.
Relieved of this purely technical aspect, it will thus be possible to concentrate your efforts on the combat strategy, using your points wisely to use Luigi’s Sniper-fect, or the Aero-blade of the mysterious Edge. Far from being anecdotal, this small overhaul of the mechanics of the game refocuses on the essentials, and makes the clashes much more fluid. Regulars of the genre should not be disappointed, and novices will appreciate a more intuitive gaming experience, very easy to learn.
Especially since if Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope bets big on its combat phases at the X-COM, the game has also pushed its RPG aspect far, with a significant exploration part: between two levels, it is thus possible to explore the surrounding planets according to a free exploration system very largely inspired by Super Mario Galaxy. The general atmosphere of the game, its small open-world, as well as its many puzzles and side quests already promise to significantly extend the life of Mario’s new adventures, while making the happiness of completists.
Not so dumb rabbits
We won’t lie to you by saying that the game is aimed at a seasoned audience: Nintendo has made casual games its spearheadand Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is no exception to the rule. In the continuity of the first opus, the title is intended to be accessible to all, even to the most novice. Be careful, however, if it is not intended to be particularly punitive, the title is not simplistic for all that. After a few tutorial-like fights, the developers quickly plunge us into the heat of the action, with increasingly intense clashes, which will quickly require you to make some strategic choices. The battle against Cursa will not be a walk in the park : you will also have the choice between three levels of difficulty, which can be changed at any time.
To overcome the different worlds of the game, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope has an RPG dimension far from being anecdotal. In addition to the skill trees of each character, it will also be necessary to exploit the skills of each: Mario in heroic DPS, Peach in nurse healer, or Luigi in ranged combat. All of them have strengths and weaknesses that must be taken into account in your team compositions. Without becoming a primordial condition of victory, wise choices and a balanced team can tip the scales in your favor during a drawn-out fight.
Especially since this strategic aspect of the game now adds the Sparks, adorable little creatures from the unlikely merger between the Luma and the Rabbids. After having rescued them, you will still have to assign them to each of your fighters to make them gain some additional skills. They too will be able to level up, and will offer active and passive skills to the character they accompany. Clearly, this – literal – crossover between the licenses Super Mario Galaxy and Mario + The Rabbids is one of the most enjoyable and successful novelties of the game.
In addition to his powers, each Spark also has an element (water, fire, etc…) that should be combined to increase your elemental resistance or trigger new attacks. The players of Genshin Impact should not be disappointed. The light-RPG aspect of this new opus is far from superficial : it imposes itself as a central element of Sparks of Hopeand makes the turn-based even more immersive and intense.
Mario gains in skills
Since its arrival on console, Mario is one of these cuddly toy licenses, to which we forgive everything, and especially its technical weaknesses. If he does not have the ambition of a triple A on PS5, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope imposes itself first of all by its regressive graphics at will. It’s round, it’s cute, and it is clear that everything fits together perfectly in the universe imagined by the developers of Ubisoft. Without reaching the level of dazzling Kirby and the Forgotten World released last March, the game succeeds in renewing the franchise, with still endearing characters, epic fight scenes (albeit a little long in terms of cutscenes) and an always catchy musical atmosphere. Only black spot on the board, rather long charging times between two sequences. Not enough to let go of the console, enough to get impatient between two fights.
Five years have passed since Kingdom Battle, and Ubisoft had time to review certain points of its copy. On the sidelines of the undeniable technical progress, we benefit from epic cutscenes, and – this is new – French dubbing for all the characters. Special mention for the different planet-worlds that we will take pleasure in exploring during our exploration, each benefiting from a particular atmosphere that we took pleasure in exploring in its every corner.
The legacy of Super Mario Galaxy is palpable, both in the universe and the gameplay. We could obviously blame the developers for this small assumed loan, but it is clear that the result works: the saga galaxy ranks among the most successful in Mario history, and Sparks of Hope brilliantly manages to transcend license through its new cretinian spin-off.