Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope was first revealed during the Ubisoft Forward E3 2021 showcase, and thanks to recent trailers, we've since gotten to learn more about the upcoming strategy adventure. As a sequel to Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Sparks of Hope is shaking up the crossover series by taking away the grid and giving us more freedom of movement as we go up against foes. Along with developer interviews and more gameplay footage, we've also gotten to see some new faces such as a Rabbid called Edge who will be joining Mario and co.
At long last, we also have an official release date that happily means we won't have to wait much longer to experience it for ourselves. Read on below to find out everything we know so far about Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, including gameplay details, characters, and more.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope trailer
Reuniting Mario, Peach, Luigi, and their slightly unhinged Rabbit counterparts, the latest release from Ubisoft Milan promises to pivot the action RPG title into a slightly new direction. Where Kingdom Battle’s crossover capers wreaked havoc across the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope sees our oddball heroes journeying a little farther afield, embarking on an intergalactic adventure.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope release date
Happily, we won't have to wait too much longer for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. The upcoming crossover sequel now has an official release date that will see the adventure on Switch on October 20, 2022.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope gameplay
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope preview: How Ubisoft is welcoming new players while keeping pros guessing
After setting the scene with a surprisingly atmospheric CG reveal trailer, Ubisoft’s Forward event went on to give fans a proper glimpse at Sparks of Hope’s gameplay. Where the first Mario + Rabbids title took its inspiration from the Mushroom Kingdom of old, Sparks of Hope instead takes a leaf from the planet-hopping Super Mario Galaxy games. As well as providing a fresh new range of playable possibilities, interestingly, with this starry new setting comes an unexpectedly darker tone. From Rosalina’s brilliantly emo Rabbid counterpart to glowing-eyed Bob-ombs and hooded antagonists, there’s an altogether eerier feel to the ironically named Sparks of Hope.
Even more interesting is that Sparks of Hope will be doing away with the original’s grid-based combat entirely. Thanks to the sequel’s newfound focus on exploration, battles will now be triggered Pokémon style, launching players into a separate environment for a battle encounter. While developer Ubisoft Milan still promises that these encounters will have the original’s tactical decision-making, this time around, your battle decisions play out in real-time – resulting in gameplay that feels more "fluid" and "action-packed".
The strategy adventure also features different colored Sparks floating around our mustachioed mascot throughout our heroes’ journey, during the presentation, the game’s producer reveals that the Sparks will be “integral to both the story and the gameplay”, lending powers to the players in battle.
During the June Nintendo Direct Mini, we got a chance to see a more in-depth look at the turn-based combat we can expect to see in Sparks of Hope. With the freedom to move around as much as want before you land your attack on an opponent, the trailer shows Mario using a sliding attack before going up against a nearby wall. We then get to see Rabbid Rosalina and Luigi in action. With close quarters attacks and ones that can be performed at a distance, it looks like we'll have a host of moves to play around with in combat.
Speaking to GamesRadar+, associate producer Cristina Nava says Sparks of Hope is a "tactical adventure", with the adventure part being exploration, which has been expanded from Kingdom Battle: "We expanded the gameplay in exploration. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle's worlds were like corridors in many ways, they were very linear – in structure but also in progression terms and the story. Here, we're being much more ambitious. You can tackle challenges, battles, and the main quest in the order you see fit. There really is an open world to explore here in Sparks of Hope."
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope characters
Who else can we expect to see on this new journey, you ask? Well, returning to help the world’s most famous plumber are Luigi, Peach and, of course, their Rabbids counterparts. Yet it’s Spark Of Hope’s menacing new villains that have us most intrigued. This time around it’s not just Rabbids that are the problem, as Mario and his mischievous companions find themselves going head-to-head with an all-new antagonist named Cursa. This red, eerie, ethereal creature wants to rule the galaxy – heading from solar system to solar system draining energy from every planet and consuming the pure energy emitted by the Sparks themselves.
Much like in the Kingdom Hearts series, Cursa’s evil energy coats the land in an evil sticky substance known as Dark Mass, which consumers both the game’s characters and environments alike. It’s an interesting new twist, and based on what we’ve seen so far, looks to provide a nice change from the purely Rabbid enemies that players faced in the first game.
Alongside the addition of Rabbid Rosalina, Ubisoft also released a team trailer (opens in new tab), showing off another newcomer to the world of Mario + Rabbids. The new face we got to see in action is a Rabbid called Edge, who sports an eyecatching hairdo and wields an impressively sized sword.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope setting
Developer Ubisoft Milan promises that Sparks of Hope will contain "many planets" for players to explore and that each planet will contain multiple puzzles and house secrets waiting to be discovered.
"We have a lot of planets," explains lead producer, Xavier Manzanares. "We won't spoil the amount… but we went crazy over the number of different environments, and what happens on each planet - could be on the narrative side, or with the different puzzles or mysteries that you have in exploration or even the type of enemies and what they do." Otherwise, the main crux of each world comes from rescuing each planets’ Sparks – after you’ve blasted away that pesky-looking Evil Mass.
For more top Switch titles to look forward to, check out our upcoming Switch games round-up.