Nintendo Switch Review: Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

Does this sequel deserve a spark of hope?

Cursa’s evil force is running rampant throughout the universe. It wants to consume the mysterious Sparks—uncanny and powerful creatures formed by the fusion of Lumas and Rabbids—and it threatens to destroy all who stand in its way

I remember when I first heard rumours of Mario having a crossover game with Ubisoft’s Rabbids. Like most, I was a bit confused as to why and partially still am but the first game did more than qualm those initial fears. It performed better than anyone could have anticipated and naturally talk of a sequel didn’t take long to surface, though could it possibly outdo the original game?

If you played the original game, the tactical turn-based combat will feel familiar though there are some changes like giving characters more fluid movement over the battlefield, as well as introducing new enemy types that will take some more direct approach to deal with. For example, you’ll find Goombas wearing metal pans on their head so you can’t actually damage them, but you can dash them and knock them over, pick them up and throw them off the battlefield edge. There’s also Bob-ombs that you can do the same to and throw at enemies and inflict explosive damage.

The original game had Mario and company traverse the Mushroom Kingdom built up of different zones as the story progressed, but Sparks of Hope has the team travel between planets and there is definitely more areas to explore, more puzzles and side-quests aplenty. There’s even a vendor that will accept only tokens for doing side-quests in exchange for items like keys to unlock other areas or skins for your weapons.

The areas feel more fleshed out than the original game and the overall quality feels higher too with overall great content that doesn’t feel like filler. Fully exploring each planet will take time and in some cases, you will need to come back if a puzzle says you need a certain item or a certain number of your new companions, the Sparks.

The Sparks are somehow a Rabbid/Luma hybrid, each with their own powers that you can equip 1 to each of your 3 person squad. These can have skills like elemental powers and a few other surprises, while each character has their own unique power like the original game. Ubisoft clearly have had fun with this, even giving Luigi a move made famous for his powerful stare from Mario Kart 8 which became meme-worthy.

The original game had plenty of humorous moments from the opera singing Boss to fighting a Rabbid version of Donkey Kong. The sequel turns this up a notch and even gives voices to some Rabbids as well as your AI companions. The script has some great moments and the voice-acting is definitely welcome. The original soundtrack was also superb thanks to legendary composer Grant Kirkhope who returns for the sequel and as usual, knocks it out of the park.

Kingdom Battle had some outstanding visuals with vibrant areas, well animated characters and some great cutscenes to boot. The sequel improves upon this in more or less every aspect and also seems to perform better in terms of framerate. I didn’t come across any glitches or crashes during my time with the game and the overall presentation is incredibly well done.

The Verdict

Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope takes the original formula from Kingdom Battle but makes a few tweaks to make it feel more open and fluid, improving the overall experience for newcomers and veterans and making it a must have for Switch owners this holiday.

Score: 9.0