Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is coming and promises to be the hilarious consecration of a series who is no longer an outsider.
Developer / Publisher: Ubisoft / Nintendo Price: 59.99 euros Location: Texts and dubbing Multiplayer: TOhe feels PEGI: 7+ Available On: Nintendo Switch Launch date: October 20, 2022
All video games have a history behind them. Beautiful and murky storieswhich at times remain private, echoing in the offices and in the intimacy of those who work there, and at other times they become faces, anecdotes, cover stories, reducing the distance that usually exists between developer and player, approached only by the credits and a “Thank you for playing! “.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle it belongs to this second category. You will remember the sensational leak that revealed its existence and mechanics, the broken reaction of the community that took 5 seconds to brand it as filth, the official presentation at E3 2017, the tears of Davide Soliani in worldwide. And then the launch, as hilarious and overwhelming as its gameplay, critical and above all public success, with the recent news of over 10 million copies sold in these 5 years. Huge numbers for such an extravagant game.
And it’s not just a beautiful story of Made in Italy development, it’s the story of a team that has had a crazy idea and took it to its extreme consequences, first by conquering the top Nintendo and then making those Switch owners who believed in it have a lot of fun.
And then the launch, hilarious and overwhelming like its gameplay, the success of critics and above all the public
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is proof of that happy ending, a conscious sequel that Ubisoft and Nintendo are on they aim strongas with any top-tier IP, which is not content with improving but try to evolverefine its mechanics, enlarge the world to reach cosmic peaks of inspiration “mariogalaxyana“, Shine like the Sparks, crazy crossroads between Sfavillotti and Rabbids, perfect mascots of this new chapter.
A DAY LIKE MANY
It’s a day like any other at Peach’s Castlethe Rabbids and the Toads chat amiably, Rabbid Mario is naked in a bush because he lost his dungarees, things like that, everything is OK and illuminated by the warm afternoon sun that caresses the courtyard of the building. That was until a giant space manta ray under the orders of Cursa, a mysterious and disturbing entity that he wants to capture the Spark to harness their power and unleash the Obscutiferio (and that seems out of the mind of a Lovecraft from the Mushroom Kingdom), he doesn’t decide to swallow Rabbid Peach in the middle of a selfie, so, in one bite, forcing Mario to chase, weapons in hand and always garra. And it really takes a few minutes to understand what I mean when I talk about real evolution of the formula. The strength of Kingdom Battle lay in the dynamism with which it declined the X-Com-style turn-based tactics mixing it with the agility of Super Mario, creating an explosive and exhilarating mix of shootings, covers, jumps, slides and a pinch of platforming.
Here you are, Sparks of Hope goes beyond that dynamism until it touches the borders of the action. A turn-based action, sure, but with a freedom of action and a fantasy that leaves the excellent prequel at stake. If in the previous chapter each character could move towards a certain point and make various moves in succession, but first choosing the “path” to follow, now the movement area of the individual protagonists it becomes totally free, explorable, until you decide to attack; I’ll give you a practical example.
It’s a day like any other at Peach’s Castle until a giant space manta decides to swallow Rabbid Peach in the middle of a selfie
I move Mario, make him enter a hammer tackle on a bob-omb that activates, pick it up and throw it towards a group of enemies: BOOM! Then I go back, get into position and help Rabbid Peach to jump high with a good push, to reach an otherwise inaccessible point beyond enemy lines. Then, with the weird parody of the princess I activate the power of a Spark (let’s put “attack up by 30%”, for one thing, but we’ll be back shortly), attack with 3 guided missiles that go beyond the barricades: BAM, another one out. Then I go back to Mario again, this time for help Luigi to climb to an elevated position, perfect for sniping opponents with her new bow, and I run towards Rabbid Peach, jump on her head, in flight I hit two enemies with the double pistol supplied, I land on the head of an unfortunate third and I cover myself behind a wall, activating the counterattack e woe to those who move. This is just one example of what a battle can be in Spark of Hope, even a trivial example if you want.
You can immediately see how much the developers have worked with chisel to balance everything on the one hand (because the player has many more chances, but enemies as well) and exponentially enhance the fun and the taste of “successful plans” on the other, with a balance between “WOW” effect and challenge that promises an uncommon gaming pleasure (enhanced by very rubbery animations), also thanks to the same Spark, to accompany the characters and stuff by Astroschegge to level them up. These adorable little stars add an additional tactical layer to clashes, where each type of opponent has weaknesses (and strengths) to hit with their elemental attacks, to be combined in turn with the various abilities of the characters.
A matryoshka to be experimented, surprising, with a level design that embellishes everything with destructible covers, buttons to be activated and a varied enemy fauna
A matryoshka of solutions to be experimented, absolutely amazing, embraced by a level design that embellishes everything with destructible covers, buttons to be activated and an enemy fauna that already seems quite varied. It goes without saying that you wouldn’t want to never stop playing, mess around and laugh like idiots. The refinement work then involved the roster tout court, which remains exactly the same as the previous game (with two exceptions …) but reworked in terms of roles (even more characteristic), skills and weapons, all new. The exceptions are Edgea ruthless Rabbid with a very strong character edgy, tormented heroine, fighting with a Cloud Strife sword, presented to players when the battles pass from 2 to 3 elements in the fieldwhich will become then 4 when we get to know Rabbid Rosalinda (obviously!), very bored and indolent version, from “Monday morning” of the ethereal princess of Galaxy, introduced respectively in two beautiful boss fights that I was able to try.
It goes without saying that you would never want to stop playing, messing around and laughing
And how does it get there to those massive clashes it is another distinctive element of the evolution of the series. As pleasant interludes as they were, in Kingdom Battle it was simple corridors connecting one battle and another, with occasional (and sometimes interesting) puzzles and some hidden areas that protected the collectibles: functional but all too essential. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, on the other hand, offers a much more adventure solution, a more complete exploration, organic and structured of the various planets, with environmental puzzles, secondary missions, secrets and characters to meet in rich and airy settings, as well as graphically and artistically valuable and colorful (here too the jump is evident). From islets no longer so sunny dominated by Mykonos-style villages and snow-covered lands that surround elegant glacial palaces, adorned with marble and enriched by labyrinthine gardens (site of a very tense battle with Midniteicy rabbid chasing Spark, which takes place in three phases of increasing difficulty, which if desired can be raised or lowered as desired before the clashes).
Moments of relative relaxation in which to stroll, enjoy Beep-O’s sarcasm, the robot-roomba that still accompanies our heroes, but above all pamper the ears with the sounds of an exceptional soundtrackcomposed of a trio of phenomena: Grant Kirkhope, former composer in Kingdom Battle and historical collaborator of Rare, Gareth Coker, famous for Ori and the Blind Forest, Will of the Wisps and Halo Infinite and Yoko Shimomura, legend of the sector in business since more than 30 years old, author of historical soundtracks ranging from the great Beat ’em up Capcom to JRPG Square, From Mario & Luigi to Kingdom Hearts.
Personalities who betray very different production values compared to 5 years ago, perceptible to the touch and in every corner of the extensive test I was able to do, for a series that I have the impression can inherit permanently what was the place of Mario & Luigi of the late AlphaDream, testifying at the same time how important it is to Nintendo collaborate with external partners to renew the image and gameplay of his most beloved mascots. All that remains is to see if these extremely positive impressions of mine will be confirmed in the review. The departure for this new and galactic adventure is set for next 20 October exclusively on Nintendo Switch.