Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope (Nintendo Switch) Review

mario rabbids sparks of hope switch review 779405
mario rabbids sparks of hope switch review 571134
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
Developer: Ubisoft Milan, Ubisoft Paris
Publisher: Ubisoft
Played On: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E10 (Everyone 10+)
MSRP: 79.99
Release Date: 20/10/2022
CGM Editors Choice

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is a sequel to a game that should not have worked on paper but surprisingly did in practice. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle successfully managed to make the combination of Mario and Rabbids good while providing the answer to whether or not Mario can use a gun and still feel like Mario (Yes, it turns out). Sparks of Hope asks a different question: Can we improve upon that ridiculous predecessor? Well, despite some qualms, it turns out Ubisoft absolutely can.

The story, such as it is, is barebones even in comparison to Kingdom Battle. The denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom are living peacefully alongside Rabbids until they are one day attacked by an alien called Cursa. It’s infecting the galaxy with an oozy substance known as Darkness, and the ‘m’ is not a typo. And so Mario and friends journey across the galaxy to a handful of worlds to put a stop to this latest forgettable villain.

While the story is nothing to write home about, Sparks of Hope is still charming. Plenty of gags and jokes had me smiling, ranging from visual puns to the quips Rabbid Peach makes. Much like Kingdom Battle did, I somehow found myself liking the Rabbids, which is a feat worth praising. And the soundtrack is particularly excellent – what else would you expect from Grant Kirkhope, Yoko Shimomura, and Gareth Coker?

Mario Rabbids Sparks Of Hope Switch Review 738053

The worlds the heroes explore are also dramatically different from the ones found in its predecessor. Gone are the intricate maps filled with tailor-made battles and block-based puzzles. In their place are worlds that are populated, each filled with nooks, crannies and side quests galore. There are classic red coin challenges alongside puzzles that are simple yet break up each area, though the lack of jumping and maneuverability in exploring does create a weird disconnect considering this is a Mario game.

Yet the biggest change, and consequently the most important improvement, lies in combat. Battles in Sparks of Hope have a greater emphasis on freedom compared to Kingdom Battle. Characters can now freely move across the map, unburdened by a grid and limited only by their movement range and whenever they fire their weapon. You can swap between heroes at any time, as the turn order is based only on sides as opposed to individual units. Coupled with each character being able to use two major abilities alongside melee attacks and team jumps, and you have a lot of space to try new things and see what team compositions and abilities can overwhelm the enemy the quickest.

“…Sparks of Hope is a solid strategy game anyone can enjoy.”

It helps that the characters are distinct in battle, as each comes with a unique weapon and a unique ability. Mario has dual blasters that can each target a unique enemy and an overwatch ability that hits any enemy that moves within his range. Newcomer Edge, who looks like a Rabbid merged with a Final Fantasy protagonist, has a sword that can hit multiple enemies in a line alongside a super boost that improves her attack. And Luigi is a stone-cold sniper who deals more damage the further away from an enemy he is. Their abilities can be improved in skill trees, which can be refunded at any point for no cost in case you want to try something new. I found myself swapping characters regularly because even though some heroes are clearly better than others (Peach’s shotgun and invincibility power are very overpowered), each has their own use.

Mario Rabbids Sparks Of Hope Switch Review 570532

But the characters themselves are only part of the equation. Sparks, which are essentially Rabbid versions of the Luma’s from Super Mario Galaxy, form the other half of Sparks of Hope’s customizability. Each provides a powerful ability that can be activated in battle, and each hero can equip two at a time. Some imbue guns with elemental effects that certain enemies are weak to, such as Burn or Splash, while others increase weapon damage or cause enemies to move closer to you. Sparks run the gamut from useful to incredibly overpowered, and choosing the right one can trivialize most encounters.

That experimentation is hindered, however, by the menu design. There are noticeably tiresome loading times each time you open a menu, and navigating between different tabs and entries takes a few too many button presses in my opinion. With nine different heroes, each with their own skill tree and thirty Sparks that you can swap between, managing them all is irritating. As fun as it is to try new combinations and see what works and what doesn’t, the poorly designed menus resulted in me sticking to a few tried and true combinations so that I didn’t have to deal with menu navigation.

Mario Rabbids Sparks Of Hope Switch Review 131385

But it’s not hard to find a combo of characters and Sparks that can wreck enemies. The difficulty balancing in Sparks of Hope is poor simply because there are so many ways that you can make incredibly powerful teams. For example, the aforementioned Spark that draws enemies closer to you will allow you to unload area-of-effect attacks and demolish entire packs at once. Even on the highest difficulty, the vast majority of encounters are trivial.

Yet lack of difficulty and bad menus do not break Sparks of Hope. It’s not a particularly deep strategy game, but it is an enjoyable one. The shift from the carefully designed battles in Kingdom Battle to the fluid, freeform fights found here is exactly that – a shift. Coupled with worlds full of life and a cast that is quirky yet never annoying, and Sparks of Hope is a solid strategy game anyone can enjoy.

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher. You can read more about CGMagazine reivew policies here.

Final Thoughts

REVIEW SCORE

Latest Stories

google nest wi fi pro review 547870

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro Review

794941

Willow (Series) Review

Talking Trailers With Nathan Maddams— The Callisto Protocol 1

The Callisto Protocol—Talking Trailers With Nathan Maddams

a first look at fae farm from phoenix labs 615728

A First Look at Fae Farm from Phoenix Labs

the knight witch xbox series x review 642658

The Knight Witch (Xbox Series X) Review