At this point, who hasn’t Mario crossed over with? As one of the oldest gaming characters in existence, Mario has basically done and seen it all at this point. If you count the Smash Bros. games, then he’s easily been the focal point of the largest and most diverse video game crossover ever attempted. However, this hat-wearing, turtle-jumping, fire-throwing plumber has had one collaboration that no one could ever have predicted. That was, of course, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.
Not only was the image of Mario and these intentionally ugly little rabbit creatures an idea that most thought was a joke a reality, but even more surprising, it was actually a really good strategy game. Similar to an XCOM title, only with Mario theming and enemies, you controlled a squad of familiar Mario characters, plus Rabbid versions of them, in an easy-to-understand and far-less-punishing tactical experience. It worked so well that we’re even getting a sequel. Get into cover and ready your blaster, because here’s everything we know about Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope.
It took a while for the date to finally be set, but Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope will arrive on your consoles on October 20, 2022.
Just like the first game, and nearly every game with the name Mario on the box, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope will be a Nintendo Switch exclusive. Unlike other first parties, Nintendo has yet to budget on porting their flagship games to anything but their own hardware, so if you’re interested in this one, Switch is the only way to experience it.
The reveal trailer for Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope came in the summer of 2021. It opens with Mario looking over holographic screens in a spaceship, of all things, with Rabbid Peach sneaking around behind him. She surprises him with a selfie when they see the screen showing some sort of DNA match between a Rabbid and Luma. Right on cue, a Rabbid Luma wakes up off the console and starts flying around.
The ship’s alarm sounds as it detects some sort of anomaly. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Rabbid Peach, and Rabbid Luma open up a massive star map that shows a threatening red hand capturing other Rabbid Lumas and … potentially killing them? Probably not, but it is set up to look that way. This is Cursa, a mysterious enemy that wants to spread its evil by absorbing the energy from Sparks, which are what the new Rabbid Luma hybrids are called. In any case, Mario and crew are motivated and descend on a planet, gearing up with their blaster weapons, plus a new red Rabbid Luma rides a cloud while Rabbid Rosalina looks bored from her chair.
Stepping out onto the planet, Mario and crew are ambushed by a new, beast-looking foe, as well as evil Rabbids and Bob-Ombs. Mario and team will need to travel across new planets to stop Cursa’s plan and save the Sparks.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope will continue to be a tactics game, but it has done a lot to mix up the formula yet again for the sequel. The gameplay presentation gave us a very good look at exactly how the game will play.
The first difference players will notice are the environments, which no longer are directly inspired by the Mushroom Kingdom. The demo shows off a crumbling temple, snowy peak, ancient library, and more. Just like in the first game, you will be able to explore the areas outside of battle to collect coins and star bits and find secrets. There will also be new NPCs to meet that can give you different missions to accomplish in the overworlds.
In battle, you will build a team of three characters. You move around in real time, though the game is still turn-based, but gone are the grids of your typical tactics game. Instead, your movement range is dictated by a circular boundary that shows the limits of your character. Pipes and other movement options, like bouncing off of allies, make a comeback from the first game to expand your movement and positioning options.
Along with weapons, special techniques are also back. We see Peach casting a shield to any friends in range to buff defense, or Rabbid Rosalina casting a sleep spell. Sparks can also be utilized in fights in different ways depending on which type of Spark is used. A blue Spark bounces between enemies and applies a wet status, while yellow charges up your projectile and shocks opponents.
Winning battles earns XP and levels up all characters who you took on that mission.
Once you move into a position, you can see the range of your character’s weapons and select your move from there. Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope continue to make things simple by showing you exactly how much damage you will do based on your positioning and weapon, plus whether the target is in full or half cover. Each character has their own signature weapon, with Luigi shown firing a bow from long range and Mario attacking two targets with his twin blasters. Another new trick is to use enemies against one another, such as sliding into a Bob-Omb to light its fuse and then throw it into a group.
New allies include the previously mentioned Rabbid Rosalina, a brand new character named Rabbid Edge (who looks edgy enough to call itself that), plus Bowser will join the crew to try and regain his lost troops.
While nothing has been officially stated yet, it does seem likely that Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope will continue to have a co-op mode just like the first game. This mode was completely separate from the story and didn’t have any competitive modes, instead focused on the Buddy Dome. Here, two players worked together to solve combat puzzles. Something like that could easily make a comeback and would be a welcome addition.
The official store page doesn’t list any number of players for the game, so for now, it is all up in the air.
Pre-orders for Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope are live and available via the official Nintendo store. There are two editions to pick from — your regular edition and a Gold Edition. Here’s how each one breaks down.
As you might expect, the standard copy of Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope simply gives you the game for $60. However, for pre-ordering, you get The Megabug Collection, which has the following weapon skins:
- Mario: Megabug Dual Slinger
- Luigi: Megabug Sharpshooter
- Peach: Megabug Boom-Brella
- Bowser: Megabug Bowzooka
- Rabbid Mario: Megabug The Dukes
- Rabbid Luigi: Megabug Discruptor
- Rabbid Peach: Megabug Triple-Troll
- Rabbid Rosalina: Megabug Kaboomer
- Rabbid Edge: Megabug Flying Blade
The Gold Edition costs $90 and, in addition to all the skins in The Megabug Collection listed above, also gives you a season pass that will give you access to:
- Unannounced DLC packs that will include more story content, heroes, quests, and battles
- The Galactic Prestige Pack, which includes three exclusive weapon skins