Mario + Rabbid Sparks of Hope (Nintendo Switch) Preview

In 2017, the fruit of a surprising collaboration was born on nintendo-switch. French Ubisoft is a major video game development studio and does not shun any manufacturer. Regularly offering releases on each console, it has achieved a sufficiently special status for Nintendo to grant it the use of the Mario license for a crossover unlikely: Mario + Rabbid Kingdom Battle. While one might expect a crossover accessible and family game type, this new IPs offers us a tactical rpg surprising. A niche genre but the game that was such a hit as nintendo and Ubisoft put the cover back in 2022 with a new opus entitled: Mario + Rabbid – Sparks of Hope. We had the chance to try the game briefly to give you a first impression of this new iteration.

A new threat hangs over the Mario universe

The beginning lets us savor the peaceful and funny daily life of Mario and the Rabbids around Peach’s castle. As we come to the aid of one of these bunnies, a dark figure passes over the castle and for once Bowser is not behind the threat. A giant manta ray from space arrives and disrupts the daily life of Mario and his friends. The creature hits Rabbit Peach who gets swallowed up by it. Our gang reacts to save this one. Our game session allowed us to cross a few planets of the game, to meet the Sparks and then to have a nice taste of the long space adventure that will certainly await us in October.

The game seems divided into several chapters but we can’t tell you how many. Just like the story which seems to have a serious background, surprising for a Mario game, but directly mitigated by the absurd humor of Rabbids. What we went through lets us guess that this new adventure feels grand and less linear than the first game. There seemed to be some wacky twists and turns right from the start and some equally wacky new characters also seemed to be in the game. The improbable cast and the mix works again and makes us want to go on an adventure with Mario, his friends and the various Rabbids more than ever.

1663919279 329 Mario Rabbid Sparks of Hope Nintendo Switch PreviewWe mentioned it but the first apparent difference with the first opus is the relatively more open progression. Where we had several small areas to explore with above all a succession of fights to play, the balance of exploration and combat seems more mastered in the second opus. Exploration is also better narrated, with more side quests, more interaction, puzzles, and better rewards. Sparks of Hope offers annexes that make you want to turn away from the main objective. As much for the rewards as for the simple desire to wander and go around the different planets. We talk about planet and openness but don’t expect a Xenoblade X or one Zelda Breath of the Wild.

Keep your expectations on a sandbox type area like mario odyssey. However, our impressions are based on the levels we have gone through and rather rushes therefore difficult to be more precise on the true extent of the areas crossed. Without forgetting those which are still totally unknown to us. This therefore means that we are certainly not immune to a few surprises fromUbisoft this side. When the story does not impose it on us, we have the possibility of starting a fight by coming into contact with the enemies walking around the areas.

As in a RPG traditional, we are transferred to a combat zone. The difference here being the possibility of choosing the members of our combat group before starting the confrontation and having turn-based mixed with tactical like the first opus. The formula has nevertheless evolved with limits and a level design less square, less squared and less rigid than the previous game. This allows us to directly see an evolution towards more dynamism. This without going to the detriment of the tactical side of the formula. On the contrary, Spark of Hope subtly changes elements that contribute to giving both more action and more strategy to the mechanics of Mario + Rabbids. Let’s go into a little more detail about what was presented to us.

We were able to play a lot of fights with a team consisting of two characters and then a few with three or even four characters. Nothing says that later, the game does not allow us more fighters in combat but impossible to tell you so far. The two-character start allows you to get to grips with each hero and learn their specialty to form the team that suits you the most. Battles are divided into player phases and enemy phases. Your turn ends once you have attacked with each of your characters. However, before attacking many possibilities are available to you then we are not in a beast tactical where there is ultimately little direct interaction between the characters. Our characters have a certain number of action points and sparkles to use during their action turn.

1663919279 584 Mario Rabbid Sparks of Hope Nintendo Switch PreviewAction points allow you, for example, to physically charge your enemies and inflict damage on the way. It’s just a matter of moving your character close to an enemy and then triggering the charge which can potentially hit several enemies at the same time. These actions do not count as a true attack. That is, your turn continues and you can continue to move, take cover, potentially activate a Spark to finally conclude with a real attack. We still have the team jump mechanic that allows an ally to lean on another to jump beyond their movement area and continue their turn further. Small difference this time, the team jump is not a simple ally throw on another area that you have selected. Here, once in the air you directly control your character freely in the air for a few seconds.

1663919280 351 Mario Rabbid Sparks of Hope Nintendo Switch PreviewYou might be thinking that this is cool but the feature doesn’t serve any more purpose than the previous game, other than wasting time controlling the character. In fact, as you progress through the game, some characters unlock mechanics of gameplay news and we thus discover the possibility of using its few seconds to undertake actions. For example, not being limited to ground attacks with Mario but even being able to activate his attack from the air. This is just one example among certainly other surprises that the game has in store for us. Sparks are similar to various support magic to be activated at the start of the turn or after depending on the sparkles, their effects and the positioning of your characters. Some effects being on an area, it is preferable to make the most of them.

1663919280 405 Mario Rabbid Sparks of Hope Nintendo Switch PreviewThere are also character-specific abilities that you can activate and take advantage of in the same way as Sparks. Except that these techniques do not depend on points but will require you to recharge them a certain number of turns before they can be relaunched. Let’s present all this on another example: we use a Spark assigning a fire element to Mario’s actions at the start of the turn, the enemy in front is sensitive to this element. Let’s also activate Mario’s technique which allows you to automatically attack an enemy within range during the enemy’s turn. Just charge it or attack it for it to take damage from the attack then burn and run randomly on the map with fire in the buttocks.

Burn that he can transmit to other enemies or yourself, potentially dislodging everyone from hiding. Then once your turn is over, an enemy will potentially move within reach of Mario who will attack or even eliminate him thanks to the personal technique that you had activated beforehand.

It is very difficult to put down in writing all the possibilities that we have been able to experience in the fights of Spark of Hope. It’s also hard to describe the action and dynamic side of it all with words alone. However, the mix works very well and the improvements give a whole new tactical and dynamic dimension to the formula. Each character has his specialties, his weapons and his techniques. Some are even unlocked and improved on the skill tree by spending skill prisms that we get as we level up.

There’s certainly still a lot to say about the system, but our session stalled as we started to get the hang of four-character combat and advanced gameplay options, including the ability to have two Sparks about our characters. It seemed to us that the system was enriched far beyond what we could imagine. It also rhymes with nice surprises to mention later.

Let’s talk technical: the game seemed much cleaner and much richer in detail than the first opus. The cinematics were always sublime and worthy of an animated film Mario + Rabbid. Not to mention the entertainment in-game which always looked very nice and flowing.

The unknown is whether performance holds up across the game and also how it renders in handheld mode. Finally, on the sound part we have an association of talented composers who knew how to convince us with themes sometimes even involving a side Space Opera. We can only see the talent of Grant Kirkhope, Gareth Coker but also Yoko Shimomura who know how to bewitch us musically when we have only played a few hours. Small mention also for the French dubbing which seems of good quality.


We could have feared an easy sequel but our first contact with Mario + Rabbid Spark of Hope rather reassured and convinced us about the probable qualities of this second opus. Spark of Hope seems to improve and push the formula even further in order to deliver a much more complete, tactical and dynamic experience. Also allowing the recipe to always have more of its sauce and its originality vis-à-vis its comparison with XCOM. Ubisoft seems to show us that they have not been idle for five years and we are really impatient to come back to the game at greater length to tell you more. So, all we have to do is shout “Bwaaaaaaa” hoping that a Raving Rabbid from space will appear to take us on this new adventure with him.

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Mario + Rabbid Sparks of Hope (Nintendo Switch) Preview

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