Game News Mario + The Rabbids Sparks of Hope: why the Nintendo Switch exclusivity will surprise? Ubisoft responds
Announced at the 2021 Ubisoft Forward conference, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope has since returned to its burrow. Indeed, it’s been a year since we have heard from Lapin Peach and all his clique. Luckily, we were able to meet Xavier Manzanares, lead producer of the project, so that he could give us new details on this “Tactical Adventure” which seeks to do better and differently. But where is the carrot?
Stars in the eyes
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One kingdom was not enough. Today, the Rabbids aim for the universe! Mario + The Rabbids: Sparks of Hope propels our funny furballs into space, more precisely in a galaxy where the world of Mario and that of the Rabbids have merged. Unfortunately, the pretty planets of this system which does not really turn round are corrupted by Cursaa dark antagonist as big in size as small in ethics. His goal ? Absorb all of the energy contained in the galaxy. Ominous tentacles come out of caves, slimy puddles cover tree trunks, and some creatures are now under the influence of the mysterious entity. Thanks to a video broadcast during a digital event organized by Ubisoft, we were able to discover scenery that displayed a nice diversity with beaches, meadows, autumnal forests or even snow-covered villages.
This new Mario + Rabbids introduces Sparks, a kind of fusion between Rabbids and Lumas, these little stars seen in Super Mario Galaxy. Filled with energy, these Sparks taken refuge on different planets will have to be collected by the player so that Cursa does not put his filthy slimy paws on them. Saving a Spark also grants the player magical powers assimilated here to boosts. They can be equipped up to two on a protagonist, before a battle or during the exploration phases. This allows strategic choices thanks to the assigned effects (shock, ice rain, fire protection, etc.).
Free like air
Visitable planets can be explored more freely than we’ve been used to from Mario + Rabbids games. This is a very important element according to Xavier Manzanares, lead producer of the project, with whom we were able to talk. “We have gone much further than what we have done in the past. From the first prototypes in 2018, this is an element that we wanted to do to add more action in Sparks of Hope” he explains. He adds : “you can discover quests and side-quests, this time by visiting the planet, which deepens the lore. There are other elements. For example, at one point on the first planet, it is raining. Once part of the main quest is done, the weather changes. This opens up the opportunity to do new side quests”. At the bend of a path, the fine team is brought to meet protagonists that we are promised colorful. These offer the opportunity to participate in various and varied missions designed to highlight the worlds visited. Some challenges will focus on reflexes, while others will require a little common sense.
When a planet is finished, the player can decide to go to the next one or return to a previously visited one in order to unlock all the elements. “If the player wants to learn more about the planets, he must be offered discovery elements. These elements can be found during the progression but also later, using the new features of Beep-0 related to exploration. He can push structures, see footprints or reveal bridges” says the lead producer. He insists on the fact that a lot of elements have been added so that the player is rewarded for the time spent exploring the levels. This ranges from hidden Sparks to special battles leading to various bonuses.
Without a grid on the ground and with Bowser’s bazooka, the party is more crazy
So far, the revealed allies have been Mario, Luigi, Peach, their regular bunnies, and Lapin Harmonie. Today we learn that Edge, a rabbit with a big sword, as well as Bowser, join the cast. The villain of the Mario games indeed joins the camp of “friendly” in order to recover his troops who are gradually being indoctrinated by Cursa. His weapon of choice is a bazooka, enough to imagine explosive encounters with the local bestiary.
With Nintendo, we are getting to know each other well, we have been working together for 8 years. They know the team, it’s not the same setup as it was in the days of Kingdom Battle. There is a very good relationship. For Bowser, it’s a big deal to add him to a game that has a story and where he teams up with Mario. It’s not just Bowser per se and how to respect it visually, Nintendo trusted us. But Bowser is also a character, his archetype is that he has a bazooka, we thought it would fit Bowser well, but it was a lot of discussions with Nintendo to make sure it was a good fit. Same for his relationship with the rabbits, we had to start from scratch on that. The Sparks are another example of a relationship with Nintendo moving forward. This rabbits-Lumas fusion, it may seem like nothing but it’s huge, because it’s not canon with other Mario games, it’s a new creation, new characters… it’s been a long work with Nintendo on this point. The relationship is good, it’s going very well, they trust us, they’re super open about everything we want to change. Xavier Manzanares, lead producer of Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
Since we are dealing with the case of enemies, we already told you last year that this episode aimed to review the basics of the series’ gameplay with regard to combat sequences. When a battle is triggered, opponents and heroes are teleported to an arena. The big novelty is that the fine team will no longer have to bother with traveling on a grid to prepare their shots. In Sparks of Hope, movement is free even during clashes. This risk-taking for the very codified genre that is Tactical aims to attract those who do not know the genre while surprising enthusiasts. “We didn’t just want to do better. We wanted to do it differently” says Xavier Manzanares.
In fact, each character has its movement area, the size of which differs depending on the heroes. Inside it, it is possible to go wherever we want. This means that the experience is more direct: rather than putting a slider on the other side of a cover, you just have to go directly over it and step over it… like in a Gears of War! This new handling adds functionality to the battlefieldsince the user can, for example, crash into enemies to send them to other opponents if the angle of attack is the right angle. “This is something we couldn’t do with the grid and slider”adds the lead producer. For the rest, Ubisoft has kept the turn-based philosophy. When it is the heroes’ turn, the selected character can perform two actions such as move, attack, perform a technique. Once it’s over (or the hero attacks), it’s the enemy’s turn. This is when the counters can operate. Of course, the experienced warrior will be able to develop destructive team combos.
Designed for young rabbits and seasoned rabbits
Each hero has his favorite weapon capable of changing the course of a confrontation if it is properly used. Luigi has a bow whose arrows reach distant enemies, while Mario has the ability to shoot two different enemies at the same time thanks to his pistols in each hand. Adventurers also have unique techniques which, when triggered at the right time, can turn a situation around. Peach protects his teammates, Rabbit Mario prepares devastating counterattacks and Rabbit Harmony puts his enemies to sleep, to name just three examples. Obviously, the more the player progresses in the epic and unlocks elements, the more the strategy of the clashes increases. However, the Ubisoft teams know that they face expectations as diverse as they are varied with this new title. That’s why Spark of Hopes offers automation for those who don’t want to spend too much time in menus. “We went into an autofill strategy, if the player doesn’t want to go into strategic detail. It won’t be as good as if he had thought of everything himself, but it allows the player to focus on the fights”.
What we said to ourselves very early on was that we no longer had the same audience. We are no longer the surprise game of 2017. We are no longer the game that introduced the Tactical genre. We now have a base of players, and we know that there are always people who have not tried this type of game. Our target is quite large, we must not forget that we are a Mario game at 50% . So we aim to be accessible, but we opted for the possibility of going a little further, as DK Adventure had gone a little further in the aspect of strategy and tactics. Xavier Manzanares, lead producer of Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
The music of Gareth Coker and Yoko Shimomura softens the BWAAAAAAAH
The latest surprise reveal from Ubisoft concerns the game’s soundtrack. If Grant Kirkhope is back, he is accompanied this time by Gareth Coker (Ori and the Blind Forest, Fenix Rising) and Yoko Shimomura (Street Fighter 2, Kingdom Hearts). These big names in video game music will therefore sign different pieces. “We wanted the music to surprise too. Yoko Shimomura is a childhood dream, we love it. Gareth Coker, the same, we love what he does and he’s someone we knew a little internally”explains Xavier Manzanares. He concludes : “We said to ourselves “why not merge everything that would make us happy”. Of course, there is a DA that is respected for the whole project to make sure everything sticks to the universe. It gives a general fusion which is brilliant. I can’t wait for people to hear about the work that has been done. With this project, we gave everything”.
Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope will be released on October 20, 2022 exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
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