Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope came out last week, and Ubisoft was nice enough to provide myVGBC.com with a review code for the game. I was finally able to begin my journey this week, but I first wanted to revisit my long relationship with the previous title, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. So, before I share my thoughts on the new Sparks of Hope, let’s travel back in time to my Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle story.
First Sight + Play
I remember seeing that first reveal of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and thinking, “That looks kind of interesting, but probably not for me.” I had never been into tactical turn-based RPGs before — although I have tried with many of them.
These games would always take me through the same three-step journey: (1) Wow, this is fun! I think I like this. (2) Uh oh, this is getting kind of hard. (3) I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, I quit.
My relationship with Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle all began with one trip. I was flying out to visit a friend for about a week, and borrowed the game from another friend as my “plane game.” On the plane and for that entire week I played through World 1, and I truly enjoyed it. However, once I returned home there were more games to play elsewhere, so I returned the cartridge to my friend, thinking my time with Mario + Rabbids was done — I was wrong!
Cut to: Black Friday (2018 or 2019)
At this moment, I had forgotten all about Mario + Rabbids, until I came across it at a Best Buy during Black Friday weekend for only $15. My brain jumped back into memories of the game, and I decided it was time to go back. I bought my own physical copy.
I didn’t get back into it right away. The cartridge sat in my Switch case for a couple of months, waiting for the perfect moment. At some point, I began a brand new Kingdom Battle game and made it as far as World 3 this time, before deciding that the game was getting too hard and complicated for me.
I quit once again.
One More Chance
It wasn’t until June 2021, when Ubisoft revealed the upcoming sequel, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope that I decided it was time to give Kingdom Battle one more chance. I went back to my save file, but was completely lost. So, I once again started from the beginning (for the third time). This time was different though. Instead of trying to quickly make my way through each battle, I was playing smarter. I was being tactical and strategic.
This final restart, I made it all the way to World 4, the final world. Somewhere towards the beginning I fell off once again.
Last week, I realized that Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope was about to be released — I thought there was more time. That’s when I once again jumped into Kingdom Battle — this time with the help of a guide for the final few battles in World 4.
A full restart was not necessary this time. I jumped in right where I left off, since I only had a few battles left.
Also, receiving a review code from Ubisoft gave me that little push to make me want to finish Kingdom Battle. This way I would be sure to notice all of the gameplay changes when I finally got into Sparks of Hope.
Beating the Game
Back in the day, I would plan on beating an entire game over a week, weekend, or some short period of time. In recent years, I have enjoyed taking my time with games and really savoring the stories.
Once I received that Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope review code, I went back to this old mentality. It was a countdown to beat the first Mario + Rabbids game, so that I could begin to enjoy the sequel. With my girlfriend out of town for a work trip, I had two nights to get through the game — and I did it!
Sort of, my save file read “Cleared,” but I still haven’t finished that final battle against Bowser. My heroes weren’t powerful enough to beat that wicked hard Bowser battle just yet.
Instead, I went back to explore World 1 once again and noticed that the game now had new challenges instead of the previous battles. This is a very cool feature. To go back and explore old worlds, only to find new content. This was also my way to continue to level up my heroes.
Before writing about Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, I wanted to revisit my time with the first game because it was a very important recent game to me. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is the main reason I started looking for more games in the turn-based strategy genre. On my quest I have found both, some games I enjoyed and others that I didn’t.
One game that I tried, but didn’t really stick with me was XCOM 2, since it was already in my PlayStation library of games. I thought it was a cool idea, but I didn’t really pay much attention to the story. However, the same studio (Firaxis) is currently finishing Marvel’s Midnight Suns, which is an XCOM-style Marvel game. I feel like I will be more inclined to becoming a fan of this game, because of the Marvel story. They are also exploring a comic series from Marvel (Midnight Suns) which I know nothing about.
If anything good has come from my on-and-off relationship with Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, I will say it’s the way it has opened my eyes to new genres of games.Earlier this week, I began Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope and I will say that I am happy with some of these gameplay changes. I plan to beat this game (in one attempt) before sharing my thoughts though.
So, stay tuned for our Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope post. Coming soon…