REVIEW: ‘Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope’ Is A Perfect Gateway to Tactics

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Mario + Rabbids

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope (Mario Rabbids 2) is the turn-based tactic sequel to Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and to put it simply, it’s even better than the first. This sequel expands on gameplay and adventure from the last game and does so while keeping into account the perfect balance of engagingly difficult content and friendly mechanics for new tactics players. The game is developed by Ubisoft Milan and Ubisoft Paris in collaboration with Nintendo.

Your goal in Mario Rabbids 2 is to free different planets from the encroaching dark ooze known as darkmess energy. It’s a gaming objective that’s time-tested and here, it works well. With your team, you prevent Cursa, a malevolent cosmic entity, from plunging the galaxy into chaos. Determined to consume all the energy in the galaxy, Cursa and its minions are hunting the Sparks, uncanny creatures formed by the fusion of Lumas & Rabbids, and will destroy all who stand in its way. Players will have to locate and save the Sparks to have them join the adventure, opening up new tactical possibilities to help Heroes get the upper hand in battles.

As I said in my hands-on preview of the game, I am not a big tactics person. The wait time between actions is something I don’t have patience for and it means that I tend to avoid the game type. That said, Mario Rabbids 2 has adjusted the gameplay to include even more robust action elements. Mixing turn-based tactics and real-time action, Mario Rabbids 2 allows Heroes to dash at enemies (which effectively works as an extra attack you can move after), team jump on allies (which when stacked can move you well beyond the base movement restriction), hide behind covers or take advantage of their special abilities to get the most out of every turn.

This real-time action is what makes Mario Rabbids 2 a complete game-changer, especially when you use dashes and team jumps definitely adds some ease but also comes with its own tactics. When you can move freely, you also have to be able to know where to position yourself once you use your weapons and are frozen in place. While dashes essentially give you a free damage action that can be paired with Sparks actions that can give you a damage buff. This helps pull the combat into something more active before you switch turns and can be the difference between beating a boss and losing to one.

Mario Rabbids 2 also expands the franchise by introducing Sparks into the game. Sparks are little adorable pudgy creatures that are half Luma and half Rabbid. With Luma bodies and Rabbid eyes and ears, these adorable little creatures offer a variety of buffs and abilities for your character. While you start off with one, you later earn a slot for another. This allows you to experiment with combinations.

The sparks themselves range from supportive abilities to direct damage ones, as well as aligning to several elemental effects. With each Spark taking some of the characteristics of the abilities they offer you, the diversity of color and aesthetic is truly perfect. They’re cute, fun, and make a huge combat difference as you learn how to use them in combination with your team composition and your main damage abilities. The abilities also prove important thanks to the astoundingly diverse enemy types you encounter across each planet. Change your sparks and even your team frequently to get the most out of each area and battle, I say, as someone who only used maybe four characters until I needed a specific ability like Rosalina’s sleep.

Mario Rabbids 2 is the perfect distillation of action, open world, and RPG-lite skills skill trees (that you upgrade with skill prisms) that offers a phenomenal gateway for new tactics players, and you can even change the difficulty at any time, between Relaxing, Average, and High. That said, if you’re not one to switch difficulty down once you start a playthrough like me, you can explore areas of the planets you’ve traveled to and get stronger first. This happened towards the game’s end. While you can level fairly well by just keeping to the main quests, when things are too difficult you can “quit to planet” and work through side quests and level up in an easier environment.

This helps in two ways, obviously, you gain levels, but this also helps you by giving you different environments for you to test out different team combinations or even different sparks combinations. Now, it should be noted that boss battles, specifically in the main quest line do level up as you do. This helps keep you from over-leveling while still giving you the chance to leave and learn more about your characters and sparks before heading back.

This also allows you to craft your experience to what works best for you and takes off a lot of the pressure. Additionally, to help you take stock of the field you can use the tactical view to move around the map and see where enemies are located to plan out both your next moves, what cover areas to choose, and who to attack first. This ability helps plan out your path and with large circles dictating your area of movement versus designated paths, you’re able to move more freely than you would in a traditional tactics game.

The choice to not hold players in a locked-in path to purify darkmess energy each location offers hours of robust side-quests and puzzles to get gold coins, planet coins, and star bits, or to build up our level – for either your main squad or the ones you haven’t played yet. Completing these will help you get used to new team combinations, and earn you Star Bits (which are also earned when you destroy enemies) so that you can level up your sparks.

Additionally, planet coins can unlock gold pipes spread throughout the planets that help make each planet well worth exploring. On that note, there are five planets, Beacon Beach, Pristine Peaks, Palette Prime, Terra Flora, and Barrendale Mesa. Each of these is uniquely designed and offers up items to match, which you can purchase with planet coins specific to those locales. Additionally, no boss is the same as the last. With six across the five planets and Cursa’s Stronghold, there is a lot to do and explore.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is excellent and joyful and has just the right amount of chaos thanks to that Rabbids touch. The dev team has put time and care into the humor as much as the gameplay and I can’t name a single time I felt bored or unconnected to the material. For those looking to pick up a game they can sink happy hours into, this is it. This is the perfect gateway to the tactics genre for any age and a true testament to the originality and beauty of collaborations.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope releases exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on October 20, 2022. 


Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is excellent and joyful and has just the right amount of chaos thanks to that Rabbids touch. The dev team has put time and care into the humor as much as the gameplay and I can’t name a single time I felt bored or unconnected to the material. For those looking to pick up a game they can sink happy hours into, this is it. This is the perfect gateway to the tactics genre for any age and a true testament to the originality and beauty of collaborations.

But Why Tho? A Geek Community
%d bloggers like this: