This is a transcript excerpt covering the score awarded to Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope on the So Videogames podcast, episode 307: The Worst Way To Run.



Brad: So I was thinking of circling back to Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. we covered it last episode. And at that time, I was just kind of barely scratching the surface of it. I’d gotten through like a world or whatever. But I still, you know, clearly could tell there was a lot more to come. And we talked about maybe me giving it a review score, which I was I felt pretty solid at the time, but I just wanted to see more so I figured I would revisit that right now. I don’t know why I’m pausing so long on my words.

But yeah, I figured I would go back and give it like, the official so videogames review. So I went back and played some more, played a bunch more, have been playing it every night in bed, which is great, because that’s where I love to play the switch. And I gotta say this game. It’s solid, dude. It’s solid as fuck, like I’m playing it and you know how critical I am you know, I can pick apart basically anything I can. I can take the best game and find something wrong with it. And man, this game is just like so fucking airtight. Like, every time I get annoyed with it (which is which is never) and I’m trying to look for like, you know, rough edges or something. There’s just aren’t any like, it’s just it’s thoroughly polished. It’s thoroughly well designed.

I mean, as a quick recap for people who maybe missed last episode… So this is a turn based strategy in the vein of XCOM but instead you’re using rabbids, which are the Ubisoft kind of mascot rabbit weird things. And then you have Mario characters — you got Mario, Princess Peach, Luigi, etc, etc. And you go on these levels that are kind of like XCOM levels. But the beautiful thing is, is the first game which came out a couple of years ago where I thought it was already great. I mean, but at that time, there’s a couple of things that I was like, Okay, this is really good, but can be better. And the Ubisoft developers absolutely zeroed in on all of that stuff. Like, my biggest gripe I think about the previous game was the overworld was kind of messy and confusing. And I didn’t really care for it too much, wanted to just to get back to the battles. And this time around, I think the overworlds are great. They’re beautiful. They’re there’s a lot to explore, but they’re not huge. And also the developers give you a map that highlights every single little point of interest. So if you want to just get straight to it, you can just go right there and find out what’s going on. They tell you what you have done, what you haven’t done, what you need to do for the stuff that you don’t have yet. Like if you need a certain amount of keys or something, or a certain amount of points, it’ll say, oh, yeah, you need like nine out of 12. And so you don’t waste your time going back there if you’re not ready to do it, right.

And then, I mean, the graphics are so polished, the characters are all really interesting. I stuck with my core team of like Mario and Luigi and Rabbid Peach, which is a rabbid who’s dressed up like Princess Peach, of course, and stuck with that for a while. But then like, oh, you know, I should probably check out these other characters. And you do unlock more as you go.

But I started switching around and everybody had something cool and everybody I tried was like, okay, this guy does something cool. This guy’s got a Frisbee that hits like everybody, that’s awesome. Or like, Oh, this guy can deflect bullets, like you shoot him and he punches a bullet back. Okay, that’s awesome. Like, I can already see like places where that would be really useful, you know.

And on top of that, the movement systems are just so good. I think it really leverages Mario as a franchise in conjunction with what we generally think of as XCOM. So I mean, I’ve said this before, but like, for example, mobility is really a huge aspect of this game. You can move forward like a regular XCOM game. But then also, you can have one character jump on top of another one and launch them really high in the air. So that not only gets you up to higher elevations, but it can also make you glide to get in back of people to flank them to get in and back out to some other cover that you might not have been able to get to. And you can also attack people when you’re walking around to get like little extra hits in. You do like a little Mario slide like like you were going to be knocking over turtle shells or something. Oh, yes. Yeah, so they really leveraged like the Mario franchise in like brilliant ways that have really key effects in the gameplay.

And I think that the difficulty levels are really great. It can be really difficult if you want it to be, or it can be really easy if you want it to be and the UI is perfect. Like I have no problem reading all the information. Loving it.

And my dudes, they’re really flexible. Because if you put level up points to somebody and you’re like, oh, you know, I didn’t think I wanted to do that. They’re like, yeah, no problem. Take it back. Do it again. Spend those points, take it back. I love that you can just experiment with it. And if you try to get a good synergy or Team Build going and if you’re like, Oh, I wish I had put one more point in Mario instead of two, Okay, cool. They’re like Yeah, do it man. Like, like, they don’t penalize you for like anything. And I just love that they want you to play this game they want you to get in experiment and it just feels so fucking fun to play this. Like it just, I mean, I could just go on and on and on and on. But like there’s literally nothing I want more out of this game than than just like more levels and maybe more characters and some DLC, which I’m sure is on the way. I mean, it’s like it’s basically a perfect game as far as I can tell.

Carlos: So almost like my review of stray then.


Yeah, I mean, I mean, everything that I would want as a strategy fan as a turn base fan is here. And I just I’m just like enjoying it like so much.


Carlos: Yeah, I mean, okay, but what about the rabbids?


Brad: Okay, okay, that’s true. I’m going to take a point off because rabbids. They really really suck, but, but I love this game anyway. And I will say that if this game had if this game had taken out the Rabbids and and put in just like all Mario characters — perfect game. Yes. Yeah. I hate the rabbids, but this game is so good. I’m still playing even with rabbids.

Carlos: And the game is so good that you’re going to even give it a score of…???

Brad: I’m going to give it an official so video games score of nine out of 10


Carlos: I knew it. I knew it.


I mean, I gotta I gotta keep it real. But Ubisoft, I don’t like Rabbids at all. But this game kicks ass. This game kicks ass every every six ways from Sunday, dude. And if you like XCOM, you like turn based strategy, if you like Mario franchise. I mean, you will like this.

It’s a struggle to encapsulate what a wonderful, marvelous experience this is, and how carefully the developers have addressed all of the concerns from the past — and those concerns weren’t huge! Despite doing a great job the first time out, they rolled up their sleeves, take a look at what didn’t work perfectly and now everything here is just so, so good. I really appreciate that. And I really want to reward that, so I definitely feel like a 9 out of 10 is easily easily justifiable. Great, great stuff, and if you like XCOM, or Mario or anything on the switch, I mean, this is like a killer switch game for sure. So, absolutely check it out. Nine out of 10. Great stuff.

So Videogames Stray Official Score: 9/10

Developer: Ubisoft Paris

Publisher: Ubisoft

Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E10+. The official description reads as follows: This is a strategy game in which players control characters from the Mario and Rabbids universes as they defend a kingdom from evil. From a top-down perspective, players explore whimsical landscapes, collect coins, and engage in turn-based battles with various enemies (e.g., rabbids, Bowser, goombas, henchmen). Characters use cartoony blasters, explosives, and melee weapons to defeat enemies that disappear when health bars/hit points are depleted. Cutscenes and attack animations sometimes feature slow-motion effects; battles are highlighted by explosions and futuristic/cartoony gunfire.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Subtitles: There are subtitles for all dialogue, but they are not adjustable or resizable. However, I’ve played almost the entire time on mute and had no problems whatsoever — there are no audio cues needed for gameplay at all. Despite the lack of options for subtitles, the game does offer a variety of other accessibility options, including gameplay and physical controls. A player’s mileage may vary with that suite, but as far as audio goes, this game is fully accessible.

Brad Gallaway
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2 months ago

Is there any use of haptic feed back or vibration in this game? It was well implemented in Kingdom Battle but I didn’t notice any in Sparks of Hope

5 months ago

I loved the first game. I only got a switch a year ago, and at that point the first game was only $10, so I thought well of course I should get it, and given how pricy almost every Mario game tends to be, even when on sale, it was a steal for $10 and made me tempted to get this sequel on launch. But despite not having the words Assassin’s Creed or Watch Dogs in the title, it’s still an Ubisoft game, and these are notorious for being buggy on day one. And I’ve heard complaints that this game… Read more »

5 months ago
Reply to  Brad Gallaway

I saw people saying that the game loads every time you go to the pause/status menu. It seemed like a weird thing to be in the game, so I could understand why that might be annoying. Anyway, just the fact you didn’t notice it, whether or not you experienced that, is selling me on it more.

3 months ago
Reply to  Brad Gallaway

I am finally playing it. I also am not experiencing long load times, and no obvious in-game bugs. . . . but the game isn’t exactly what I wanted. It feels like all the changes amount to a wash. It’s not a bad game, but I’m not ready to declare it better than the first. Like, moving around endlessly before firing is cool, but now it restricts you from firing first and then moving. Stuff like that. One thing I really don’t like is that so many of the battles feel randomly generated, like there was no thought put into… Read more »