Video Games

Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope Review

If a game comes up with a good idea, some developers are happy to play it safe for sequels, making some improvements, but mostly sticking with what worked in the first place. It makes perfect sense. But Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is not that kind of sequel. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle wowed us all with XCOM-style smart tactics in Nintendo’s clothes, but this follow-up keeps the best ideas, but quickly turns out to be very different. It’s reinvented to the point where it feels. Bigger, better, more free-form and customizable combat in nearly every way, and an almost completely reimagined Overworld that’s less linear and puzzles completely sloppy. It’s packed. The story is sprinkled here and there, and the Switch can’t always handle it all smoothly, but it still manages to maintain its zany sense of humour, whether it’s a fun easy stroll or a deep and demanding tactical challenge. It’s a great game that you can also play.

Back in the Mushroom Kingdom after Rabid’s invasion, things quickly get even weirder when a giant manta ray arrives from outer space and causes trouble. One. The interdimensional blend of the original Mario character and the Goofball Rabbits is completely silly, but it makes sense on its own. Use to spread Ganon’s putrid slime virtually anywhere. And do you have spaceships to travel between literal worlds? Kingdom Battle seems grounded in reality by comparison. I wasn’t expecting deep lore or anything like that, which is kind of confusing.

That weirdness is made up for by the fact that all nine characters on your team are completely full of personality. With her satirical Gen Z social media diva persona and nimble walk in the surface world, she stands out among her crew. Luigi has an old-fashioned gnarly leaning run, Ravidher Rosalina is resolutely lethargic, and Bowser is as huge a bulldozer as you’d expect. Not only is it fun to watch, but I’m still noticing new and interesting subtleties in animation. Sometimes it’s overdone, like how the animation plays every time you activate a character’s signature ability, but you can mercifully turn it off if you get bored.

They’re just fun to watch and I’m still noticing new and interesting subtleties.

The combat itself immediately feels different. I’m sure there’s still a grid somewhere under the map, but Sparks of Hope hides it, making Mario and his friends’ movements in tactical combat look smoother and smoother as they run around. You’re doing a great job. You’re limited to a radius based on each character’s movement stats, but there are plenty of ways to chain and extend actions. Most notably team his jumps. A team jump allows one character to bounce off another, usually across a small map. 1 turn. That movement adds a subtle touch of real-time movement to this turn-based game. The hero will hover for a few seconds, during which you will have to maneuver. Wasting precious time here can be the difference between landing safely or falling off a cliff and taking damage, so be careful where you land. There is also a very useful line that shows the character’s range of movement. This is very useful for positioning jumps when switching teammates.

The big new idea, though, is Sparks. As you play, you’ll unlock dozens of cute little boys with names like Pyrogeddon and Toxiquake. When equipped, it can perform everything from simple elemental charged shots, dashes, and area-of-effect weapons (which also come with passive resistance to these elements) to attracting or repelling enemies, reviving fallen teammates, cloaking, and more. Grants abilities leading to more interesting abilities. Each hero can use a combination of his two sparks, so Ravid can equip his Luigi’s ricocheting frisbee weapon with a Freeze effect to immobilize long chains on his enemies, or give Bowser the ability to rebound enemy attacks. All sorts of opportunities open up. them after he absorbed a bunch of hits.

Being able to combine two sparks for each hero opens up all sorts of opportunities.

Many sparks are similar to Kingdom Battle weapon perks, with one important difference. These usually only have up to a 30% chance of happening when you hit an enemy, so you can’t really plan on getting your target. It catches fire or gets stuck. Here, using his one of his character’s two action points to activate a Spark his ability, such as Electric Shot, can certainly shock a target if hit. increase. There’s a fair amount of dice rolling in that he only has a 50% chance of being hit by half-cover enemies (there’s always a chance of a critical hit on him, of course), but it works better than the original.

Unlocking the full potential of each of the three characters every turn requires practice and an understanding of the rules of Sparks of Hope. There are dash attacks, team him jumps, spark powers, good old weapon attacks, and every character behaves a little differently, especially after a few upgrades. For example, Luigi can unlock the ability to gain an extra dash of his attack with each jump, as he is the only hero that allows him to team two of his jumps in one turn. On the other hand, Ravid his Peach can heal teammates upon landing. These character-specific abilities aren’t needed outside of a few missions where teams are selected, so you have a lot of freedom to experiment and find who you like best. You don’t have to bring him into combat at all, but his uncharacteristically powerful dual pistols are great for dealing damage to multiple targets, and his ability to ricochet off opponents’ heads is fun. A nod to the roots of please do not worry. He is voiced by Charles Martinet, not Chris Pratt.

Every character behaves a little differently, especially after a few upgrades.

Normal difficulty is usually pretty forgiving. In many cases, the controller could literally be handed to his 7-year-old son, and there were some fights that he had to try again and again, but he was able to come out on top. However, there are plenty of difficulty options (including the ability to turn damage off entirely), and I found that raising the main one challenged me to a satisfying place where I had to be careful with my movements. . Of course, losing a battle doesn’t have much of an impact. It doesn’t matter if one or two of him on your team goes down because you can simply start over and you won’t even get scored for your performance like in Kingdom Battle. However, you have sustained health, so you have to worry about getting hurt in the next fight if you hit too hard.

Coins earned in battle can be spent and collected around the world to heal your team at the start of a battle, but they’re more expensive than buying consumables like healing mushrooms, movement range extenders, and ability cooldown resets. is also useful (among other things). Some of these may feel like cheats – thanks to boosting Luigi’s movement so he can reach the goal zone before the enemy has a chance to move, I was able to get some They won the battle – but usually they shot themselves in the arm when they had to turn the tide of the battle much needed.

Enemy diversity is a strength. There are a fair amount of tweaks and repurposed models (such as a big savage man with various animals strapped to his arms), but often for health stealing and knocking back from fireballs, often to counter them. Fighting evil bosses Spark Hunters isn’t quite as flashy and zany as Kingdom Battle, and the accompanying music never reaches the same carnival heights, but it’s consistently enjoyable. It’s time. It’s mostly driven by an interesting map design that makes good use of things like warp pipes, jump pads, and destructible cover to move both you and your enemies, and keep combat from bogging down in long-range firefights. increase. The pace is going well as most finish within 10 minutes of him.

The fact that there are loading screens just to get in and out of menus is a bridge too far.

However, what’s bugging me are all the loading screens. We would expect there to be brief pauses when navigating between worlds or entering new areas, or starting battles and returning to the Overworld, but the fact that there are loading screens to enter and exit menus is also expected. It’s a bridge. It’s far. In almost every battle, you’ll face enemies with different vulnerabilities and resistances, so you’ll have to go in and out of menus often. So you have to shuffle your team and their sparks to take advantage of enemy weaknesses. Other than that, Sparks of Hope works well enough, but some of the bright, colorful worlds cause the poor Switch to get a little intense in places.

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