Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is one of the best games I’ve played on the Nintendo Switch so far. My expectations for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, which will finally be released on October 20, 2022, are correspondingly high. After the material shown so far, I still have some skepticism.
As an XCOM fan, I was very drawn to the combat system of the first Mario + Rabbids, which was more or less a 1:1 copy in terms of gameplay. Not a problem for me considering the excellent adaptation. Part two turns the said system upside down, in the new showcase the makers speak of a “tactical adventure” that offers real-time action, but at its core there is a lot of strategy in it.
For the successor, the developers are making a few changes to the process. For example, there are no more grids on the battlefield, you don’t move in squares. Rather, you are within a specified radius in real time. I have to say, on paper it still seems a bit strange to me. Here practice has to show how the new system feels, whether it is better, worse or just as good. I’m excited to find out.
Bowser as a new team member sounds like a great addition and I’m excited to see how the expanded roles of the characters – Luigi as a sniper is more efficient the further he is from the target – translate into combat and how they interact. Ultimately, you still have to take cover à la XCOM in order not to be a target for the opponents.
Otherwise, the mix of Rabbids and Mushroom Kingdom looks enchanting once again. The impressions shown in the current showcase and the different landscapes invite you to explore and I would like to slide the cartridge directly into my switch and plunge into the adventure. I’m a little wary of the fact that you now seem to be accepting side quests from NPCs as well and have a little more work off the main path. At least it seems that way and I hope Sparks of Hope isn’t too cluttered with stuff. What I liked about part one was this focused gaming experience with no frills on the sides. I hope Ubisoft doesn’t overdo it.
Anyway, the humor seems to be back on point. Based on the few excerpts we have seen so far, I once again felt well entertained and had to laugh several times. I just love that kind of humor from Kingdom Battle and Sparks of Hope seems to tie in with it seamlessly. Luckily!
In short, if the publisher manages to keep improving and refining the concept of Kingdom Battle without adding major glitches or screwing up the rebuilt combat system, we may have one of the best Ubisoft games of recent years in store for us. I like what I’ve seen so far and I’m really looking forward to it.