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Mario + Rabbids sparks of hope – For the second time in a row, the European Ubisoft was allowed to develop a Mario game for Nintendo. The new game Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is a small improvement over the previous game and is well put together.

Mario + Rabbids sparks of hope

The first Mario + Rabbids game came as a surprise in 2017. It’s rare for Nintendo to have a studio outside of Japan make a game starring its mascot. Yet this was entrusted to the Italian and French studios of Assassin’s Creed creator Ubisoft. The game was then announced by emotional developers, who said they had always dreamed of making a Mario game.

It was a game in which you wouldn’t just expect Mario. In Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, the emphasis was not on jumping levels exploring, but the user was plunged into tactical battles. Suddenly, Mario didn’t take out his enemies by jumping on them or throwing fireballs, but was given two pistols to fight them with.

The game was well put together. The combat system turned out to be in-depth and layered, so you had to think carefully about what you would do each turn. It was comparable to a complicated game of chess or to other tactical games, such as XCOM.

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You can walk around more freely

Sparks of Hope builds on the foundation that was laid then. The core is the same, although many details have changed. Take, for example, the way you walk around: in Kingdom Battle you moved over a grid, while in Spark of Hope you walk freely within a circle. The result is the same – you can travel a limited distance each turn – but it feels freer and it prevents you from accidentally taking a wrong step.

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Central to the story this time are the so-called Sparks, stars from old Mario games that have merged with the Rabbids from Ubisoft games. They are an extraordinarily efficient source of energy, which the villain Cursa wants to obtain at all costs.

The story is mainly an excuse for the game to send you from level to level, while you search for the Sparks yourself and remove a good stuff distributed by Cursa. You fly from planet to planet, where you are dragged into new battles in a light-hearted way and with many jokes.

Mario + Rabbids sparks of hope

Mario + Rabbids sparks of hope

Game struggles with two styles

Sparks of Hope looks like a Mario game, but its European roots quickly become apparent as you play. In addition to Mario and his friends, there are Ubisoft’s Rabbids, for example, who also go through the games dressed as Mario characters. They are a bit more obscene and louder than the Japanese protagonists and make all kinds of jokes during videos about, for example, taking selfies.

That can sometimes feel a bit crazy; it’s like putting characters from The Simpsons into a Disney animated movie. The Mario heroes are all quite pure and simple in effect, while the Rabbids constantly lean on modern jokes and winks that have to break the fourth wall. The game has two tones, which he sometimes struggles with during cutscenes.

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Added to this is the somewhat remarkable emphasis on weapons. That was also the case with Kingdom Battle, but it is at odds with how we know Mario from his own games. After all these years, it is still a bit awkward to see the Italian plumber reload weapons as if he were in a war game.

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Conclusion

Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope never gets too annoying, at most a little crazy. Nor does it alter the again well-developed combat system, which is what this game is all about. Ultimately, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is a good game, but one for fans of long, strategic battles.

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