Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is BIGGER and better than the original

WHEN I was first invited to preview Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, I gladly accepted but recalled my initial reluctance to see the first Mario + Rabbids game.

I didn’t like my beloved buddy Mario hanging out with a bunch of rabid Rabbids.

Inside a castle in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope.


Inside a castle in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope.

Ubisoft’s rabbit-like gremlins aren’t known for their mass appeal, but nonetheless, they’ve since played a central role as Ubisoft’s most popular family-friendly cast of characters. Ubisoft’s Minions, if you will.

As a result, they are the only characters from Ubisoft’s current portfolio that can realistically reside in the Mushroom Kingdom. But you don’t want people to think it’s too childish, so throw in some guns as well.

The first Mario + Rabbids is a solid XCOM-like – turn-based strategy game – and even the most die-hard Rabbid haters can’t deny that.

Classic Mario moves like the jump are converted into an enemy attack, and familiar items are now used for a one-up in battle.

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Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope goes one step further, giving us an expanded and improved version of the combat system, with a much larger and more complex world to explore.

The overworld is the biggest change you’ll notice right away.

In the original game, the overworld was a linear path with some admittedly very beautiful landscapes lurking enticingly in the background.

In this game, instead, you can properly explore worlds and environments, which gives you a sense of place.

It feels like Mario and his Rabbid buddies are exploring a real world instead of selecting encounters from a world map.

This also allows the team to explore actual dungeons while fighting mobs, collecting keys, opening doors, solving puzzles, and more.

All of this elevates it above your average XCOM-esque, making it feel a bit closer to a traditional Mario RPG like Mario & Luigi or Paper Mario, while still having that classic turn-based gun combat.

Of course, having proper dungeons is only beneficial if they’re fun to play through.

A certain ice castle has a set of doors that work like Zelda’s infamous Lost Woods: if you go through the wrong door, you’ll go back to the start.

Helpfully, used doors are left open to indicate you’ve already tried this path, but the Lost Woods in Ocarina of Time are made fun thanks to musical clues guiding you through, rather than trial and error.

As you explore your dungeons, you’ll need to pay more attention to your team’s health. It’s not easy to revive allies in mid-battle, so you’ll need to make sure you’re well rested before an encounter.

You can spend coins in exchange for health, and then the amount of coins you earn in each fight – and spend in shops – is another thing to consider.

Boss fights can even turn into long, multi-phased affairs with no need to pause between them. At this point, health items and healing abilities become as valuable as gold dust.

That means Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is still a challenging game.

It’s absolutely more robust than the original and even has DLC plans to include Rayman in the future – finally.

That being said, those who had problems with the original game shouldn’t expect all of their problems to be solved here.

This is bigger and better than before, but is unlikely to gain new fans.

Written by Dave Aubrey on behalf of GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN.

Luigi on a beach with Rabbid Mario in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope.


Luigi on a beach with Rabbid Mario in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope.

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