Ubisoft Milan returns with Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope: we saw a presentation dedicated to the game and it seems that the evolution is truly remarkable.
The story is well known, but we might as well repeat it for the hundredth time: when Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was presented, expectations were low, either for the not-so-exciting history of the other titles dedicated to Ubisoft’s funny rabbits, or for the fact that Ubisoft Milanthe team at the reins of the project, at the time had never stood out particularly in the panorama.
At launch, however, any doubts were disintegrated in a flash: Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle proved to be one of the most creative and inspired turn-based strategy games around, and managed not only to convince critics and the public, but also to make homage to Mario and his universe to such an extent that it seems that the guys from Ubisoft Milan have actually been an integral part of Nintendo for eons.
With such premises, understandably, many were waiting for the Milanese firm’s next move. A new title completely detached from the mustachioed plumber would certainly not have been an unattainable project, yet – given the passion for Nintendo worlds demonstrated and the success achieved – it was practically assumed that a sequel to Mario + Rabbids would at some point peep out.
Now that Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope has finally been announced, therefore, only more detailed information on its development was missing. How has Davide Soliani’s team evolved in these difficult years? And how has the video game transformed that put them in the spotlight? We had the answer to these questions thanks to a convenient digital presentation of the title kindly offered by Ubisoft a few days ago, complete with an interview with Davide Soliani himself.
Here’s what we discovered inpreview of Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope.
A galaxy to explore
The first thing that catches the eye of Sparks of Hope is undoubtedly the renewed game ladder. We are no longer on a single planet divided into worlds inspired by the classic Mario archetypes, but on a cheerful spaceship, apparently ready to explore an entire galaxy born from the merger of the world of the Rabbids with the Nintendo one. Now, the journey is not purely for pleasure: various worlds are in danger due to the corruption spread by a powerful and mysterious entity called Cursa, who even took control of Bowser’s army. And one of the surprises of this sequel, in fact, is the presence of Mario’s iconic antagonist as a member of your team, more than ever eager to recover his army and armed with a sort of armored bazooka.
However, Cursa’s ability to control minds isn’t just a gimmick to have the best known of the bad Nintendians among your allies. Being between the boxesarmy of Bowser in addition to the usual variants of the Rabbids, it guarantees a much greater diversification of the enemies and allows Ubisoft Milan to indulge further with the clashes. Considering what was done with the bosses in the previous chapter (and Soliani’s confirmations on the commitment linked to encounters with this type of enemies), we therefore expect great originality and inspiration in the battles of this new campaign.
For the record, the changes aren’t just about the opponents: in Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope it seems that much more importance has been given to character specializations, which now have practically all new weapons and boast even more specific roles and devastating unique powers (for example, Peach can apply an area shield to her party, Rabbid Rosalina puts enemies to sleep and Rabbid Mario unleashes devastating counter moves with his metal mallets). Davide Soliani underlined the importance of roles during our exclusive interview, specifying that there is another element that amplifies their impact in the game: the Sparkmergers between Rabbid and Luma that can be equipped by the players.
It seems that in the game you will be able to assign two per character and that doing so will allow either to maximize the skills in which he already excels, or to modify his approach to fighting by eliminating his weaknesses. We haven’t had time and time to go into detail, but there also seems to be an elemental system of some kind involved when its effects are activated and we are really curious to see how much freedom it all offers.
Overcoming the grid
All of the above are significant news, but there is a change to the gameplay that makes them pale. The movement mechanics of this new Mario + Rabbids, in fact, have been entirely revised, abandoning – apparently totally – the classic grid system of the predecessor. Characters, in practice, now move freely during turns (within predetermined limits most likely related to their movement statistics) and while they do so they can clearly see the preview of their actions, of the targets that can be hit, and even the effects of such blows.
According to what Soliani said, it should be possible to choose one’s own strategy during shifts with much more naturalness and less planning thanks to these changes, so much so as to rewind everything and change the route if what has been done is not satisfactory. Think, even thelevel exploration has changed in a similar way and now the maps between battles are richer and more freely navigable than the linear routes seen in the past. It is still unclear how the activities will be managed during the exploratory sections and if we will mostly find ourselves in front of puzzles or found more outside the box, but the director has assured that now there will be excellent reasons to re-explore the worlds.
It’s seriously a nice mix of evolutions, which really gives us hope for the final quality of the new Ubisoft Milan game. Surprising, but not surprising, then that this qualitative leap it should also be noted in all the other aspects of the work: the characterization of the characters is always hilarious and very successful, the graphic impact and the animations seem to have improved considerably, and it is appropriate to expect a stratospheric soundtrackconsidering that the always sublime Grant Kirkhope will be accompanied by no less than by Gareth Coker and from the legendary Yoko Shimomura.
The cards for a sequel capable of surpassing the first title in various leagues really seem to be all on the table, and very well laid out.
Expectations for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope are, understandably, sky high. Yet we were very surprised by the dry changes seen during the presentation. Ubisoft Milan’s progress is crystal clear and could turn an already remarkable formula into something seriously exceptional. The ingredients are all there, you just have to wait for the meal time.
- Big improvements to multiple elements, first and foremost movement management
- More focus on how to play thanks to Sparks
- Greater diversification of heroes
- Larger and richer worlds
- Three exceptional composers for the soundtrack
- Tactical improvements resulting from the changes and balance still to be evaluated
- Will the enlargement of the worlds lead to a slowing of the pace?
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