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Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope release date, trailer, gameplay, characters and more

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope was one of the most unexpected, but most welcome, reveals from E3 2021. This sequel to 2017’s Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle sees characters from the two universes collide to stop an intergalactic threat from destroying the universe.  

If you didn’t play Kingdom Battle, Mario + Rabbids it's a franchise that crosses the iconic citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom with the zany Rabbids. It’s an odd match for sure, but a surprisingly enjoyable one. The first game in the franchise was acclaimed for its surprisingly deep turn-based tactical combat and playful charm. 

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope appears to be taking the best elements of its predecessor and expanding on them. We’ve already learned of several big changes to the formula that will give you greater control over battles, as well as a host of new characters with their own unique abilities.

Unsurprisingly, the game has been confirmed as a Nintendo Switch exclusive. This is hardly a great shock considering Mario’s aversion to appearing on any non-Nintendo platforms (apart from a few appearances on mobile).  So you'll need Nintendo's hybrid handheld console to play this one. 

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope certainly looks like it could be a contender for our pick of the best Nintendo Switch games when it launches, but unfortunately, that’s still a way off. For now, here’s everything we currently know about Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope release date

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope has been given a 2022 release window. 

We don’t have a firmer date than that, but hopefully, we’re not waiting until the final few months of the year to get our hands on this one. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle released in August 2017, so a summer release may be the target for Sparks of Hope. 

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope trailer

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope debuted with a three-minute-long cinematic trailer at Ubisoft Forward 2021.

The trailer introduces the new the game and shows off a few of the locations that players will be exploring. Plus it reveals a couple of new characters as well. 

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope gameplay

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a turn-based strategy game that tasks you with defeating enemies with carefully considered moves. It wasn’t really the gameplay anyone expected from a Mario or Rabbids title, but it worked remarkably well. 

Sparks of Hope is taking that same basic formula and adding some fresh twists as seen in the gameplay sneak peek that premiered alongside the game’s initial announcement.  

The biggest change is that the grid system has been removed. No longer will characters move from tile to tile during battle, instead players will have the freedom to place each party member whenever they see fit. 

This sequel is still turn-based, so the core of the original game’s battle system is still very much in place. But it’s been tweaked to give the player additional options and control. Careful planning is still the name of the game, and players who outthink their enemies will always come out on top. 

Other new elements include the inclusion of Bob-ombs from the Super Mario series, which wander the battlefield and can explode causing significant damage to either you or your opponents. Although, perhaps the most significant addition is the titular Sparks, which are Luma from Super Mario Galaxy infused with Rabbids. 

The developers of the game are remaining pretty tight-lipped about what the Sparks actually do. But we know they’ll be very useful in the heat of battle as they contain “enormous power” that is needed to “save the entire galaxy” according to creative director Davide Soliani (via GamesRadar).

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

The galaxy setting is another big change. While Kingdom Battle was set in fairly linear levels across the Mushroom Kingdom, Sparks of Hope gives you all of outer space to explore. This is a pretty big upgrade and allows for much more open and diverse levels. 

We don’t yet know how many individual planets there will be to explore in the game. But lead producer Xavier Manzanares told our sibling site GamesRadar that the development team “went crazy over the amount of different environments, and what happens on each planet - could be on the narrative side, or with the different puzzles or mysteries that you have in exploration, or even the type of enemies and what they do.”

We expect to get even more information about the gameplay changes in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope in the coming months, but it definitely looks like an evolution of its predecessor.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope characters

Both the Mario and Rabbids series are known for a wide cast of colorful characters, so it’s hardly surprising that a franchise mash-up spawned several of its own.

Mario + Rabbids sparks of hope

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Multiple Mario characters including the red-cap-wearing plumber himself were given a Rabbid counterpart in Kingdom Battle. And it looks like these furry doppelgangers will be returning. 

Rabbid Mario, Rabbid Luigi, and Rabbid Peach have all been confirmed to be returning alongside regular Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach. It’s been announced that the game will feature a playable roster of nine unique characters, comprised of both new and returning faces. 

One of the newcomers will be Rabbid Roslina, a counterpart to Princess Rosline from Super Mario Galaxy. It’s likely that Rosline herself will feature alongside her Rabbid caricature, but that’s not confirmed as of yet. 

Another new character coming to Sparks of Hope is the villain, Cursa, who is attempting to absorb the energy of the entire universe. While Cursa is a new antagonist for Mario and the Rabbids to fight, we do know that Mario’s old nemesis Bowser will be involved as well — will he be a friend or foe this time? 

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope story

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Ubisoft hasn’t fully lifted the lid on Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope’s story just yet, but we do have an idea of what the narrative hook will be thanks to an official synopsis

“Team up with Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Rabbid Peach, Rabbid Luigi, and their friends on a galactic journey to defeat a malevolent entity and save your Spark companions. Explore planets throughout the galaxy as you uncover mysterious secrets and compelling quests!”

While the story was hardly the main focus of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Sparks of Hope looks like it will have a fun narrative backdrop to compliment the game's tactical action.

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope outlook

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of hope

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was an unexpected triumph, and one of the strongest titles launched in the Nintendo Switch’s first year. 

This sequel looks like it takes the established formula and builds upon it in smart ways. It's set to give players more freedom, as well as an expanded collection of characters and a bigger arsenal of weapons and abilities. 

While Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope does have high expectations to live up to, which its predecessor was able to avoid as it came out of nowhere, it seems to have a lot going for it. But we've got a while to wait before we get a proper look at Sparks of Hope. 

Rory is a staff writer at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics including tech news, deals, gaming, streaming and more. When he’s not writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found watching a borderline unhealthy amount of movies and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.