Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle opened our eyes to something we didn’t even think would be a possibility; a turn-based tactics action-adventure game with Mario characters.
Now, five years later, the sequel has blessed our screens but is it a worthy successor? Or should it have been left as a one-hit wonder? Let’s find out!
First off, let me say that if you haven’t played the first game in the series, don’t worry! Although Sparks of Hope’s story follows from the events of the first, it is its own story, so newcomers can play and enjoy this one and know exactly what was happening. Of course, it would be beneficial to play the first, even to make connections and references from the first.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope ditches the Mushroom Kingdom and sees Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Rabbid Peach, and Rabbid Luigi embarking into space to stop an unknown malevolent entity, this time tasked with saving a different Princess – Rosalina.
Throughout their journey through the Galaxy, Mario and the gang will explore various planets, all featuring different biomes that range from once-sunny beaches to snow-themed worlds. There are six different planets to explore, which are unlocked as you progress through the main story and each of them features its own missions, side missions and bosses for you to accomplish.
These planets are incredibly fun to explore and act as mini open-world zones to explore as you see fit, and it’s absolutely worth taking the time to examine them because they look stunning. There are so many details surrounding these areas that can easily be missed by simply rushing through.
Not only do these areas look beautiful, but they’re also great for extending your playtime. If you’re anything like me, I like to make sure I’m getting the most out of every game I pick up, and so having the option to pass the time with some side missions was great. These side missions come in various forms; whether you’re solving riddles or battling enemies, they will be sure to keep you occupied.
On top of that, these planets also feature several puzzles for you to complete, which was quite nice to break up the gameplay and offer something a little different. Simple in premise, these puzzles sometimes require you to put in a bit of thought to solve them.
Where Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hopes differs most from its predecessor is through its combat. If you played the original game, you might remember that it featured strictly turn-based combat. Well, that is no more with the ability to walk around freely during battle, within reason.
In the previous game, during combat, you would be required to select a grid space for each character on your team to move into; now, it works a little differently. Your characters now have the ability to move freely around the battlefield within a specific range, which does feel a little strange to then choose your actions as normal. But it does allow the combat to run a little quicker.
Using cover during battle still remains an essential factor, with numerous destructible objects scattered around the battlefield offering various levels of cover, from 50% to 100%. These objects of cover can be destroyed easily, so movement is critical.
Players will be able to choose a team of three heroes from a choice of a possible nine when unlocked to use during battle. Each of these heroes has their own unique weapon and abilities to use. For example, Rabbid Peach is able to heal surrounding teammates, whereas Luigi acts as more of a Sniper character.
The game also introduces the new ‘Team Jump’ mechanic, which allows players to launch a character into the air (with the help of another hero), allowing you to cover more ground as well as control where you actually land – giving you a little bit of an advantage over your opponents.
Another new factor in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is the Sparks, which allows players to assign various elemental power-ups to each character. This starts out as one Spark but eventually allowing characters to equip two. These Sparks add varying effects, such as giving allies defence boosts or even adding burn damage to attacks. These allow players to customise their characters to suit their preferred playstyle.
Sparks of Hope features part-voiced dialogue, which was a little disappointing as I hoped it would have been fully voiced. It’s a little strange having one character voice their lines but then the other side of the conversation having nothing, leaving you alternating between reading the text and listening to it.
It’s got to be said that the game looks fantastic on the Nintendo Switch OLED screen, with the colours popping everywhere you go, and I’m thrilled to say that I encountered no performance issues whilst playing.
Overall, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is a fantastic sequel that has improved on an already great game. The change in scenery, entertaining characters and improved turn-based combat help to make this game something special that could be recognised as one of the best Nintendo has to offer.
Turn-Based combat remains as fun as ever
Addition of Sparks adds fun twist
Ability to roam during combat is useful, if not a little strange
Graphics are beautiful
Wished it was fully voiced
Lack of co-op is a little disappointing
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A massive lover of all things nerdy, Chelly has been games writing for over 3 years now and hopes to gain more experience and knowledge doing so. Her favourite games are Monster Hunter, Borderlands and Pokemon.