Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope: Everything We Know About Ubisoft's Tactics Game

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope follows the excellent Kingdom Battle from 2017.

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Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, a sequel to the excellent turn-based strategy game Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, was announced back in 2021, and it's almost guaranteed to make an appearance if Ubisoft hosts a Not-E3 presentation this summer. Though the gaming giant has yet to announce a date and time, it has always held at least one big conference during the summer for new game announcements and updates, and Sparks of Hope looks set to be its biggest upcoming Nintendo Switch game. Here's what we know about it so far, including characters, gameplay details, and release information.

So long, Mushroom Kingdom

While its predecessor saw Mario and company in familiar territory as the Rabbids were transported to the Mushroom Kingdom, that won't be the case in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. The adventure will take our heroes across multiple planets as they work to free them from an "evil influence," which we're going to guess begins with B and ends with R, but we could be wrong.

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Now Playing: Mario + Rabbids: Sparks Of Hope Reveal Trailer | Ubisoft Forward E3 2021

The enemies won't be entirely alien, however. In a gameplay sneak peek trailer, we saw Bobombs with glowing red eyes and what appeared to be possessed Rabbids. Other characters seemed to have less direct link to the Mario universe, so we could see more original creations this time around.

Characters

There will be nine different playable characters in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, and like its predecessor, the game supports three at one time. This limitation forces you to be more strategic with your selections, with different heroes' signature abilities helping them to serve different roles. Thus far, the following characters are officially confirmed as playable:

  • Mario
  • Rabbid Peach
  • Rabbid Rosalina

Though these are the only officially confirmed characters playable characters so far, we fully expect Peach and Luigi will also be playable, as they're both seen in promotional material and were playable in Kingdom Battle. That doesn't necessarily mean every single character we played as in that game will be available in Sparks of Hope, but you can bet on the big names making an appearance. There also appears to be some bizarre glam-rocker Rabbid, but that little guy's deal is anyone's guess.

Adventure meets tactics

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As with the previous Mario + Rabbids game (and a few other games, like Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden), Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope combines free-roaming exploration with turn-based combat. While wandering each planet, you're free to move as you wish in order to solve puzzles and uncover secrets and collectibles.

Once you make contact with an enemy, however, the game switches to a turn-based strategy system. This will give you limited movement per turn, forcing you to carefully choose where you set up your party members to protect them from damage and get an advantageous angle on the enemy. The previous game had a similar ability to XCOM's "Overwatch," letting a hero eschew attacking an enemy directly in favor of guarding a certain area and opening fire if anyone moved into it. This will presumably be in Sparks of Hope, as well, and there will also be team-up abilities, as a good squad is always greater than the sum of its parts.

One new feature coming to Sparks of Hope are the titular sparks. They resemble the stars from Super Mario Galaxy, but their faces have been replaced with Rabbids--because of course they have. By collecting these, you can use their own special abilities to enhance your combat skills, and there are "dozens" of different Sparks to rescue.

Preorder and release date

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is available to preorder at a variety of retailers, including Best Buy, Amazon, and Target. The game doesn't yet have a final release date, but it's planned to launch in 2022.

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