Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope revisits the unlikely crossover between the characters from Nintendo’s Mushroom Kingdom and Ubisoft’s kingdom of Rabbids. Mario, Rabbid Mario, and company partner up for their second journey across the universe.
Ubisoft takes some more risks in this tactical game. Most notably, they removed the grid during battles. While some hardcore fans of this genre may miss this mainstay, its omission truly opens up the battlefield. The lack of constraints give the feeling of freedom that should definitely appeal to tactical newcomers and those who have always been turned off by grid-based battles (including me).
As opposed to the first game, Kingdom Battle, you will only be playing single-player mode, but you will get a variety of characters to control, each with their own weapons. On top of that, you can attach Sparks, a combination of Lumas and Rabbids, to each character to give them even more options on the battlefield. This really levels up the strategy side of the game. For example, you may face enemies who are vulnerable to fire but resistant to splash attacks, you need to swap out some Sparks before the fight begins. All of this really adds to opening up the tactical style to more players.
The overall storyline is interesting enough to keep me moving along, and there is enough content to keep it going for several hours. The mini-stories of each planet you visit, though, are less interesting, which has to do more with the way they are told—usually through paintings you observe in the main buildings. Do note that if you do not enjoy this as much, you can skip right by the paintings and move on to the battles and progress the main story.
Speaking of things that will pull you off the main story, the side-quests in Sparks of Hope are numerous, and they distracted me multiple times—in a good way. While I wanted to progress quickly for this review, I found myself going for 100% completion on the first planet. There is also some backtracking necessary to do this. For example, some battles require you to have a set number of Sparks before you begin. So you will need to hit that number after moving on to the second planet before you can revisit the first for that challenge.
The planets are quite large. They are packed with characters and challenges that will take maybe an hour or so to complete the main story but several hours to complete all the side-quests. All of this makes each planet feel alive. If you need to get somewhere quickly, though, Ubisoft included a very easy way to fast-travel between key landmarks within the map. This means if you need to travel back to a planet to fight a battle you missed, you can get there quite quickly.
The aesthetics of the game are spot-on. This is one of the better looking games on the Nintendo Switch, especially when it comes to the cut-scenes. The music and voices are spot-on too, and the humor is clearly there and relevant. They even joke about pumpkin spice being overrated at one point.
As far as negatives, there are a few weird moments with animation, like characters do not always face the correct direction when entering a door, but these are so small, I wasn’t even sure they were worth noting. The in-game menus also take a bit of time to learn how to navigate, but once you figure it out, they are not that bad. My advice is to poke around for a bit when you first begin the game, and you should get the hang of it soon.
While you’re poking around the menu, you will notice the large amount of customization Ubisoft has given in this game. You can change your difficulty level between three options, but if you want to dive even deeper, you can. Options exist for players to choose inverted axis, camera controls, how much you want characters to heal, and even the ability to turn off taking damage altogether. The menu also contains challenges as a part of Ubisoft Connect. If you like lots of options in your game, you might get lost in the menu for a while.
I have seriously had so much fun playing Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, a statement I never thought I would say about a tactical game. While this genre has always been one I avoid, Ubisoft has roped me in and made me a fan. While I don’t know if it has changed my opinion on all tactical games, I am definitely enjoying this one! If you are looking for a great game with a solid story, really good graphics, worthwhile humor, fun and challenging combat, and lots of options, I highly recommend Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. We don’t usually score games on NintendoFuse, but if we did, I would give this one a solid 9 out of 10.
GAME: Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
PLATFORM: Nintendo Switch
ESRB: E10+ (Cartoon Violence)
OBTAINED: Code provided by publisher for press purposes
Steve is the Senior Editor of NintendoFuse and co-host of the NintendoFuse Podcast. He’s been a Nintendo gamer since age 6 and has been on staff with NintendoFuse since 2008.