Preview Nintendo Switch: Mario + The Rabbids Sparks of Hope, the video game designed for all types of players?
Unveiled last year at the Ubisoft Forward conference, Mario + The Rabbids allowed themselves to be approached for the first time. Since the summer of 2022, the little lagomorph has grown! Preferring to free itself from the various constraints associated with the Tactical genre, it aims for accessibility and depth to unite the young (new discoverers of the genre) and adults (XCOM enthusiasts) . Rabbits included.
The Hare and the Koopa Troopa: Tell Me About the Sparks of Hope!
In space, no one can hear the Goombas being crushed. After a Mario + The Rabbids Kingdom Battle that was released in 2017 was as well appreciated by critics as by players, Ubisoft has finally pulled back the lid. In Sparks of Hope, Mario and his friends leave the Mushroom Kingdom to visit the outer reaches of the galaxy. How many missions? Destroy Cursa, a giant and evil antagonist who absorbs the energy of the universe. As usual, the introduction to the title serves as an extensive tutorial that reveals in a didactic way the basic rules that govern this Tactical. The opportunity to find direct controls (yes, we control Mario) is very responsive, with the possibility to sprint while holding the “X“. Where the structure of the first Mario + Rabbids is mainly based on alternating between exploration LIGHT and wars, Sparks of Hope opens up more diversity with planets to explore that we think are richer, side quests, puzzles and various hidden challenges. Particular attention is placed on exploration, and the player must return to previously explored worlds if they want to find secrets, according to the development team.
Kingdom Wars is a mix between Rabbids, Mario and Tactical. This amazing cocktail succeeds in convincing newbies and amateurs thanks to a general simplicity of its mechanics without removing the strategic touch essential to the genre. Sparks of Hope follows the path carved by its older brother while reinventing various elements.. The first is to remove the movement grid during fights. In fact, the group of heroes, made up of three protagonists starting from the second world, move freely in the arenas until they reach the limits of an area that can vary according to the characters (and skills). When a character is behind an area of cover, a small snap indicates that the player is protected. It’s not that much, but this improvement makes movement more enjoyable while adding a nice dynamic in general, some powers are based on movement (dash, jump, etc.).
Hero Powers, Weapon Powers, Spark Effects, and Inventory Items burn one Action Point (out of two available) when used from two available per turn. Some moves are possible without wasting an action unit, such as the team’s dash or jump. The latter use their own counter (varies according to character). If a hero attacks with their primary weapon, they cannot move. So it is advised to hide behind an area of cover before firing at the risk of getting into trouble. Controller in hand, the mechanics put in place by Ubisoft work well and promise lively confrontations with constantly renewed challenges. Also, the removal of the grid is definitely a good idea to appeal to an audience that is not used to Tactical and who found the first Mario + Rabbids’ collisions too intense.
A Tactical for everyone?
During our testing, we had access to the first two adventure planets. Enough to meet an NPC who invites us to destroy the tentacles of the confused shadow to turn back time. We also visited a mansion lost in the ice. Designed both to be accessible Tactical without betraying fans of the genre, Sparks of Hope adopts a configurable level of difficulty for each mission (easy, normal, demanding). It changes the statistics of the enemies, the magic they can use, the possibility of healing themselves at the start of a fight or the autofill of the skill tree, and other things. On normal difficulty, the game allows you to heal your team during the exploration phases (against some coins). If you’re wondering, know that the entire team gets XP when there’s a victory (even for heroes who stay on the sidelines). In combat, the objectives range from destroying enemies to reaching an area on the map, passing through the defense of a protagonist.. The development team assured us that each boss has its own way to defeat.
It’s nice to see that the teams at Ubisoft are taking this new integration of the Nintendo universe seriously, even if the Rabbids are the heroes.. The world is full of details that fans will appreciate. These range from the re-orchestrated music from Mario 64’s Castle to the item “POW” which allows you to exploit your opponents. In the same vein, the skill trees of all heroes are inspired by what they really are: Mario, for example, has new skills linked to his jumps, such as blasting in the air or smashing creatures . The codes of the Nintendo universe are respected with Bob-ombs that explode once activated, teleport pipes or even mushrooms that restore health. Although Beep-0 has actual spoken VO, the protagonists express themselves mainly through exclamations. Our regrets are mainly based on a relatively old technique. Yes, the graphics are less flashy than we thought. It must be said that the hardware equipping the Switch is starting to show the weight of the ages. Also, we noticed some small slowdowns, especially when the speed is increased during the turn of the enemy, which can be fixed in the final version.
Not so stupid, the rabbit
This long game session of the company of heroes of Nintendo and rabbits of Ubisoft allows us to try the advanced combat, that is a group of three warriors who are equipped to face the most powerful opponents. The heroes of the game each have a unique archetype, weapon and technique. The good news is that the player has the possibility to customize the classes of his fighters thanks to the skill points obtained. Luigi, the band’s sniper, has the ability, for example, to become more powerful at a distance, or strengthen in close combat to take more damage when bad hits are received. Filling skill trees opens up an anthology of unique abilities (shooting while jumping, etc.) depending on the hero.
Up to two Sparks can be assigned per fighter, Sparks that themselves hold active and passive skills (attack and defense). Spark with a burn super effect makes the equipped Warrior resistant to the burn super effect. These little creatures also gain levels thanks to the Starbits they eat like kibble, to get in exploration stages or by winning battles. Each opponent is equally sensitive and resistant to a super-effect, but the player must know which one by bringing Beep-0 to the respective enemies. Surely you understand this, all these knobs that the player controls in terms of personalizing his team and his Sparks give the opportunity to imagine powerful constructions that remain in any style of play.. Better yet, good students can create complementary trios that can turn any situation to their advantage, even if some opponents pop out of teleporters anywhere on the map during a game turn. thanks to his double gun is one of the little pleasures stored in Sparks of Hope.
A spectral monster invaded the galaxy to absorb its energy? After one or two, Mario jumps into his overalls and shoots the Goombas with…a laser gun in each hand. Strange in more ways than one, Mario + The Rabbids: Sparks of Hope once again uses the Nintendo universe with great respect while taking some well-felt liberties. This opus viewed by the development team as a new episode rather than a sequel (hence the absence of a “2” in the title) mocks everything, takes some distance with the codes of the genre , but delivers gameplay that Tactical pros and newbies alike will surely appreciate. It’s not Rabbid Rabbid that Ubisoft pulled out of its hat, but possibly one of the Bob-ombs later this year.