[Nintendo Switch] Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Review

by EdEN, Owner

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope from Ubisoft is a sequel that improves on everything the previous game did and then some. Check out our Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope review!

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope from Ubisoft is a sequel that improves on everything the previous game did and then some. When we first learned of the leaked news that Ubisoft was working on a game that mixed Mario with the wacky Rabbids characters, we honestly didn’t know what to expect. Most releases with the Rabbids tended to be of the party game variety, with Rabbids Go Home changing things by giving us an action-adventure in which you have to help them collect as many human objects as possible in order to put them into a pile so that they could reach the moon.

The game we ended up getting was very unexpected since Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battles could best be described as Super Mario Bros. universe characters and Rabbid versions of Super Mario Bros. universe characters going on an X-COM-inspired adventure through the Mushroom Kingdom… and it was a lot of fun! I had a blast playing through the main game, taking on the DLC challenges, and exploring the Donkey Kong Adventure story, which added a lot of extra content to an already solid experience. Now it’s time to dive into Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope!

Last time, Beep-O acted as the cursor that guided your party through each area, and that’s also the case for this sequel… except that instead of slightly hovering over the floor, he’s now flying over your party leader. This is why, as soon as you saw the screens for this Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope review, you could instantly tell this one was a different adventure. The game looks better than the previous Mario + Rabbids game, and that’s one that had a very nice look on Nintendo Switch!

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This new adventure will begin with a prologue that will act as a tutorial/introduction to the Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope world. The Rabbids have adapted to their new life, and they’ve even learned how to speak! When you arrive, Princess Peach informs you that Rabbid Mario has lost his overalls, and it’s up to you to help him find them by shaking all the trees and searching in all the bushes for them. Once that’s taken care of – and you’ve collected some coins along the way – you’ll learn that it was Rabbid Luigi who hid them in the first place! While everyone was trying to relax for the day, something unexpected happened!

A bunch of colorful Rabbid-Luma entities – known as Sparks – show up… and they’re trying to escape from the evil-looking giant dark flying manta-ray-like creature that is spreading shadows everywhere! When Mario and company jump into action and float over to the creature, they’ll have to take on their first battle. During combat, you’ll need to use the different objects on the battlefield to take cover as you try to deal damage to and defeat enemies with regular attacks and special abilities. While protected, you can aim with the ZL button to target opponents. Oh, and you will be able to move a bit more freely instead of having to rush over a grid-based area.

You can dash into enemies in the area that your character can run over, which will deal damage to an enemy. You can also use a team jump by having one character dash towards an ally. Doing this will propel the character that is running, allowing it to jump over a longer distance, thus expanding its overall movement area. This is very useful for when you need to clear a gap, take one of your characters to higher ground, or land on top of an enemy to stomp them to deal some extra damage.

Enemies can also take cover to gain protection from your attacks. If an enemy is behind full cover, don’t even bother shooting at them since you’ll just wait your turn. But if they’re under partial cover, you will have a 50% chance to land a hit, so you might as well take a chance! Some of your weapons can also bypass partial cover, so be sure to pay attention to your loadout!

When in combat, each of your heroes will have two Action Points to spend. While movement won’t consume Action Points, you won’t be able to travel too far if you don’t keep an eye on what each of your heroes can’t and can’t do in battle! While ZL is used for attacking with their weapon, ZR will allow each hero to use one of their signature abilities. For Mario, this means he can use Hero Sight, which allows him to target enemies moving within his line of sight. There’s also the option of pressing the L button to activate the Spark’s Turbo Charge, which makes allies within range deal 20% more damage to enemies with attacks and movement abilities.

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As you defeat enemies and win battles, your characters will earn experience points. Once they obtain enough, they’ll be able to level up. When leveling up, each hero will gain Skill Points, which can then be spent at that hero’s Skill Tree to upgrade each hero’s skills and powers. You could, for example, boost a hero’s health points, increase the glide time after a team jump, add the powerful stomp ability, add a critical chance percentage to deal extra damage, or boost the damage and lower the cooldown for his Hero Sight skill.

You will also earn the classic gold coins from the Super Mario Bros. series, as well as some Star Bits. Coins can be spent to purchase a variety of items to aid you on your journey. You could get a Cooldown Clock, which, as its name suggests, will allow you to refresh all of your Sparks and techniques for immediate use. Grab yourself a Pow Block to unleash a shockwave that deals area damage to everything in its vicinity. Along with Gold Coins, there’s also another form of in-game currency known as Planet Coins.

There are also Planet Coins. These are special coins that you can obtain by completing sidequests, and they are unique to each of the different planets that you’ll visit during your journey. This means that, yes, you will only be able to use the Planet Coins obtained in, say, Beacon Beach to purchase items from the SALESBOT 9.99+TX store at Beacon Beach. What can you get with Planet Coins?

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On Beacon Beach, you can purchase the Sunrise Key, a special key that might open a special door in a special location on the planet. There are also Memories up for grabs. These are collectible items that store information that JEANNE – your new spaceship’s AI – can read to you. They reveal data on different locations, characters, and enemies. Memories can also be obtained while exploring and completing specific objectives. Another option would be buying new weapon skins for your party in exchange for Planet Coins. That means that if you want to 100% the game, you’ll have to find all Sparks, locate all Planet Keys, obtain all Weapon Skins, and collect all Memories.

As for Star bits, they are used to level up each of the Sparks that you’ll gather during your quest. Once you’ve fed enough Star Bits to a Spark, it will gain an extra level. By leveling up Sparks, you’ll boost the special ability they bestow upon your characters. To keep you from farming Star Bits and overpowering a Spark, further levels will also be tied to having at least one of the heroes in your party reach a certain level before you can continue to feed that Spark more and more Star Bits.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Review - Tower of Dooom

After releasing in 2022, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope received three pieces of DLC, which are available as part of the game’s Season Pass. They are the Tower of Dooom, The Last Sparks Hunter, and Rayman in the Phantom Show. First, let’s talk about The Tower of Dooom – yes, that’s indeed spelled with four O. For this one, you’ll enter the titular location where you’ll meet Madame Bwahstrella, the Tower’s landlady. You’ll have to travel through portals to continue climbing up the tower’s different levels to try to free Spawny. If you manage to make it to the top, you can then do it all over again on a higher difficulty level to try and see how good you really are.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Review - Spark Hunter

The second DLC for the game is The Last Sparks Hunter, a side adventure that is set right before your group takes on the final challenge, which is Cursa’s domain. You’ll be taking a slight detour to a new planet: Melodic Gardens. Melodic Garden offers a new location to explore, new enemies to take on, and new challenges to complete. You’ll be going up against a Spark Hunter known as Kanya. Having a new planet to explore is certainly a step in the right direction as far as additional content for the main game is concerned. Do know that it’s available as separate content from the main game, so you’ll have to spend a bit of time configuring your party’s loadout, but that’s not that big of a deal.

And then, we have the big one: Rayman in the Phantom Show! This is DLC that makes sense since the Rabbids got their start back in 2006 in Rayman Raving Rabbids, a mini-game spin-off that launched on the Nintendo Wii. It’s been a while since we got a game in the main Rayman series, with 2013’s Rayman Legends. This one was later ported to the Nintendo Switch as Rayman Legends Definitive Edition in 2017, and that was the last time we saw Rayman and the gang in an action game.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Review - Rayman

It’s now 2023, and Rayman is finally getting another chance to star in a new adventure. This DLC takes place after the events from the main game, and it brings us a new journey in which Rayman, Rabbid Mario, and Rabbid Peach end up together after receiving an invite to the Space Opera Network. If you played Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, then you might remember running into a boss known as the Phantom. He’s now the main villain of this DLC, even if he says otherwise.

The game supports Ubisoft Connect. By linking your Ubisoft account to your Nintendo eshop account, you’ll be able to work on completing challenges to gain Units, which are the universal currency used through different games that use Ubisoft Connect. For Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, the challenges to complete include completing the prologue, winning 10, 50, and 150 battles, completing the story, and completing all sidequests.

You can then spend Units to gain extra items or unlock stuff. By visiting the rewards section in the game, you can get things going by adding Super Mushroom to your inventory at no cost – which you will obtain after completing the prologue. After that one, you can get a Starpotion, a Pow Block, or a Move Boost by spending 30 Units for each of the aforementioned items. Since completing the prologue will reward you with 240 Units, you’ll have more than enough to add all three items to your inventory.

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There are some options to customize your experience so that gamers of all skill levels can have a go at this adventure. You can change the overall difficulty between Relaxing, Average, or Demanding. Relaxing will give you a chance to kick back and enjoy the story since enemies will deal less damage, your hero’s health is partially restored at the end of battle, and hero skills are automatically added to at the end of a battle. Average offers the baseline experience, with enemies that are going to be a bit more challenging but fair. You’ll also have to manually add skills. If you go for Demanding, enemies will be tougher and deal more damage, punishing you for any mistakes you make. On top of that, your hero’s health is not automatically restored. The last option you have is invulnerability, which will prevent your heroes from taking any damage from enemies.

I had a lot of fun with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, so I was definitely up for taking Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope for a spin on Nintendo Switch. This sequel improves on everything that Kingdom Battle did and then some. We’re getting new locations to visit, new enemies to battle, new gameplay mechanics, more liberty for moving around the battlefield, and additional customization options for your heroes’ loadouts. Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is out on Nintendo Switch with a $59.99 price tag. You can also go and get the Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Gold Edition for $89.99, which includes the main game along with the Season Pass that gives you access to DLC 1: The Tower of Doooom; DLC 2: The Last Spark Hunter; and DLC 3: Rayman in the Phantom Show.

This Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Ubisoft.

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