Mario + Rabbids Sparks Of Hope Understands The Importance Of Rewarding Strategic Movement

Though Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope builds on the core idea of its predecessor, Kingdom Battle, its formula makes some big departures too. Most notably, Sparks of Hope outright transforms the flow of combat, dropping the grid-based movement and strict action economy of Kingdom Battle to incorporate a wider variety of meaningful choices that you can make for each character on their turn. The result is a combat experience that feels akin to what you might find in a tabletop roleplaying game like Dungeons & Dragons, where movement economy (all available movements) and action economy (every possible action) influence one another.

Taking place after the events of Kingdom Battle, Sparks of Hope sees Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Beep-0, and their new Rabbid friends banding together to defeat a mysterious monster known only as Cursa. To do so, they’ll have to partner up with various Sparks–a fusion of Lumas and Rabbids–and travel to a variety of planets throughout the galaxy, where they’ll run into and also team up with Rabbid Rosalina, Bowser, and a mysterious Rabbid that only goes by Edge. Like its predecessor, Sparks of Hope is a turn-based strategy adventure game, where the heroes and villains take turns moving through a self-contained stage and shooting at each other.

I got the chance to play a good three hours of Sparks of Hope at a preview event, which included the game’s prologue, first world, and a later world partway through the game. I really enjoyed my time with Sparks of Hope–the far-more-cinematic direction to the plot and further personalization of the Rabbids inject a lot of fun charm into the story. I’m especially fond of Rabbid Peach, whose voice actor does a marvelous job of dripping hilariously stereotypical mean girl energy into every line, but the eternally mopey and lazy Rabbid Rosalina is also amusing. Beep-0 is a bit annoying–and based on their know-it-all personality, I think that’s exactly what Ubisoft Milan and Ubisoft Paris are going for–but I otherwise really like all the characters this go around.

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Author: Jordan Ramée