Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Coming to Nintendo Switch on October 20, it introduces the Rabbids in a way you’ve never seen or heard of them before. There’s a mysterious new Rabbid hero named Edge, and the Rabbids are speaking now! During a studio tour of Ubisoft Milan, the development team discussed how they wanted to evolve the Rabbids as a brand and as characters with Sparks of Hope. They expanded the Rabbids’ range of emotions, gave them more personality, and changed the way they speak.
In their quest to reinvent the Rabbids, the team set out to do something different. “We wanted to create a Rabbid that is unique, not a reference to a Nintendo character or hero.“, explains the main producer Xavier Manzanares. The result was an original character named Edge.
“People usually think of Rabbids as funny and goofy, so Edge is something more unexpected.adds animation director Marco Renso. Edge breaks the Rabbids mold with his mysterious and heroic personality, his tough attitude, and his appearance: his legs, eyebrows, and eyelashes are different from other Rabbids. Also, he brings a new archetype to the team of Heroes, fighting with a giant sword.
In creating Edge, the team drew from references to older RPGs and pop culture heroes. “I often say that she is the female version of Clint Eastwood.“, comments Davide Soliani, creative director. “She doesn’t speak much, and has two expressions, with and without her sword.“. To capture Edge’s distinctive personality, the animation team built an entirely new rigging system. Edge (as well as the rest of the Rabbids) has over 2,000 controls to animate more subtle expressions. This new system allows Edge and other characters in the game to convey more emotion, a necessary addition to Sparks of Hope’s deeper story.
In addition to making the Rabbids more emotional, another step in their evolution was changing the way they speak. “When it came to party games, it was more about the Rabbids as a group, and they had a group voice that was tied into the gameplay, very crazy and humorous.Manzanares continues. “But as soon as we start working on an adventure game like Kingdom Battle, and now Sparks of Hope, you realize how important it is to have Rabbids with personalities.“.
For his part, the Audio director Romain Brillaud explains that the Rabbids now speak a hybrid language that combines their trademark gibberish language with full sentences. “They are changing, and their language needed to be expanded as well to inject new feelings from them, and this is something that eventually became too difficult without wording.“, mentions Brillaud. “The idea was to expand his range of emotions“.
In Kingdom Battle, the Rabbids were somewhat toned down, and more subtle in their humor and the way they spoke. For Sparks of Hope, the team decided to experiment with giving the Rabbids lines of dialogue. “We said let’s go for it. Let’s have actors dedicated to the voices of the Rabbids, and each of them must have this personality that is very strong.“, comments Manzanares. “Rabbid Mario is not Mario as a Rabbid. He really is a new character, a new hero“.
“Making them talk was, for us, a way of talking directly with the player”, concludes Soliani. “The message is much more direct if the characters are talking“.
Mario + Rabbids® Sparks Of Hope will be available on October 20 in two editions, Standard and Gold*, exclusively on Nintendo Switch™.