The association was disconcerting. When Ubisoft and Nintendo decided to combine their mascots in a real-time strategy game recipe, no one had excessive expectations. And yet, it was one of the good surprises when the console launched. It then seems logical that Ubisoft put the cover back. And Sparks of Hope is far from offering a taste of warmed up, since the sequel was able to spice up a first opus while masking, or even removing, the content that made your teeth cringe.
In Sparks of Hope, Mario and his brainless leporid friends take off to rescue the Sparks, bunny-eared Luma, threatened by the terrible Cursa. To defeat her, a team of six companions (Mario, Luigi, Peach and their Rabbid counterparts) will navigate from planet to planet. This is where the first novelty comes in: exit the exploration of corridors and place in a large open area where the player will have the freedom to wander, through tunnels or caves, from mission to mission. Since now the main quest is no longer a priority, while remaining mandatory, the game gives free rein to speedrunners and explorers alike.
But Ubisoft Milan has also overhauled the combat system at the heart of the gameplay. If we keep the same guidelines, such as two action points per turn, melee charges or team jumps to get as far as possible, the freedom of movement of our protagonists extends. If in Kingdom Battle the movements were made from square to square, now, the movements are made in a delimited zone where the interaction with the decor is still as important. Heroes can even hover with Beep-O, robot companion, and take advantage of the new bouncing plates to launch themselves into the air. Sparks of Hope then provides a much more enjoyable freedom inside and outside of combat.
If a greater depth is also added thanks to the Sparks which, once equipped to our characters, give them bonuses, it is to the detriment of the time spent in the menus. The plethora of options to which each character has access (simple attack, special technique, an object or the use of two pets) pushes the player to think and optimize his team before each fight. Obviously, we are not going to spit in the soup of diversity, but spending time in the menus considerably slows down the pace that the game also offers. Especially since another menu will attract our attention, therefore occupying our time, namely the skill tree. We find the same progression system as in Kingdom Battle : at each level reached, each character gains a prism to place in the tree to improve their abilities. The experience being shared among all the characters, even those not taking part in combat, everything now passes through this more extensive tree.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope fulfills much more than its mission of a good sequel and offers a real improvement in the direction that the license seems to be taking. Much more didactic, the first opus gives way to a game of playful and creative freedom. To find a much more in-depth test, find the Gamekult article here.