No one expected the first game to work, and yet somehow, the mixing of three unlikely unions — Ubisoft and Nintendo, Mario and Rabbids, and Mario and a turn-based tactics game — resulted in one of the best Mario spinoff games for the Switch. Even those who had no love for the Rabbids found the game a breath of fresh air for the franchise, as well as a perfect introduction into the tactics genre that is usually seen as overly punishing and complex.
With Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, the heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom, along with their Rabbid counterparts, are all back on a new quest to save the Sparks from the mysterious Cursa. Even if you played the first one, this sequel does a lot to the formula, both in battle and outside of it, to create another amazing adventure. Just because it’s a Mario game doesn’t mean this journey will be a walk in the park. It’s time to grab your blasters, plan your moves, and execute these tips and tricks when first starting out in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope.
Understand your hero’s types
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope brings back the Mario crew and Rabbids, with some new faces as well. Unlike many other tactics games, each party member is a unique class that has their own specific skills and roles in combat. Since you can only have a maximum of three characters in a normal battle (boss battles work differently), understanding how each hero works and how to synergize them to best suit your next objective is the first thing to plan around.
Here are all the heroes in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, as well as what their combat types are and a short description:
- Mario: The mustached plumber is back and, as he is in most sports and fighting games, is the All-Rounder type. He uses dual blaster guns that make him perfect for hitting multiple enemies in a single turn. He’s a solid pick for any situation while not being great in one area or another.
- Luigi: Our favorite scaredy-cat brother in green is your Sneak Attacker with his long-range bow weapon. Keep him out of the heat of battle and let him take high-damaging shots from range for the best effect.
- Peach: The Princess herself is ready to support as the Protector with her Boom-Brella weapon. She’s going to come in clutch to buff and protect other heroes from damage, allowing them to take more risks.
- Bowser: For the first time in the series, Bowser is joining up for the fight. He’s your Overseer and holds the massive Bowzooka that is perfect for AoE attacks, but he also calls upon his loyal troops to come into battle and fight for him.
- Rabbid Mario: Similar to regular Mario, his Rabbid counterpart uses two weapons as well, only this time, it’s the close-range Dukes. As a Brawler, he’s best used rushing in and dishing out big damage at close range.
- Rabbid Luigi: Called the Pest, and for good reason, this hero uses his Discruptor to mainly cause trouble for enemies by nerfing the amount of damage they deal.
- Rabbid Rosalina: Another new face, Rabbid Rosalina is a little like Rabbid Luigi. She fills the Demotivator role with her Kaboomer, but instead of nerfing enemies directly, she specializes in removing any buffs they may have, as well as immobilizing them for the team to finish off.
- Edge: One look at this punk character, and you could probably guess their class was the Blade Master. Using the huge Flying Blade weapon, she is fast and deadly, capable of hitting multiple enemies with each attack.
Explore and backtrack
While combat encounters will make up the bulk of Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, the overworld exploration has gotten just as much of an improvement as anything else. While you could bypass most of it, there are a ton of secrets and things to do in each world well worth exploring, such as solving puzzles, taking on side quests, and finding hidden treasures.
When roaming around, make sure to use Beep-O’s two skills to reveal hidden paths and destroy specific objects using the ZL and ZR buttons, respectively. As you explore early on, you will hit some spots where you know there is something to get but are unable to just yet. When that happens, just make a note of it because you will soon unlock a new way to explore the overworld, likely in the next world or two, which you can take back to prior worlds to fully complete them.
Aside from things like coins and weapon skins, there are brand new Sparks and planet coins to be found this way, so it is well worth making the trip back to old worlds to clean them out.
Learn the new battle system
As much of a leap as the first game was from normal turn-based tactics games, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is almost equally as different. Gone is the combat grid and ridged nature that brings, along with a host of new battle mechanics to learn and adapt to. Again, this isn’t a super complex game, but some strategies and nuances are worth understanding early to help you make the most of the system.
First and foremost is movement. Aside from not being limited to a grid anymore, you are free to move your character around to scout out the battlefield and plan your move without committing to anything until you use an action that costs an action point. These include normal attacks, sparks, using an item, or special abilities.
You should also try and use your sparks first, especially since the majority of them grant AoE buffs to any teammates near the character using them. Since you start all close together, this is the ideal time to pop these buffs before you reposition and spread your team around.
Another important tip is that while you can restart battles, you may not always want or need to. Unlike the more hardcore tactics games, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope will still grant all the XP from a battle to a teammate even if they lost all their HP before the end. Granted, it will be much harder to finish a mission with one less character, but if you’re one turn away, go for it.
Going along with that, don’t feel compelled to beat every single enemy in a mission if you don’t have to. Many missions have different objectives besides just wiping out the opposing force, such as reaching a goal or surviving for a set amount of time. If that’s the case, as long as the objective is met, don’t worry about risking your characters for more attacks.
If you do need to retry, there are some checkpoints during the multi-stage missions that you can revert to rather than retry the entire gauntlet. Simply select Restart objective instead of Restart battle to go back to the closest checkpoint.
Use Team Jumps, Dashes, and stomps
Going hand in hand with combat, and your movement stage of it, are the Team Jumps, Dashes, and stomps. These don’t cost action points and can help soften up or finish off enemies, plus get your heroes around to advantageous positions with ease.
Team Jumps are done by hitting A next to an ally. This will launch your hero up into the air and slowly glide down. You can use this to reposition, attack from above to bypass cover (which will cost an action point), or stomp.
Stomps are low-damage but chainable attacks. If you’re airborne and go directly above an enemy, you can stomp on them to bounce off them for a free hit, launching you back up in the air. Some characters are able to stomp more than once, but anyone can stomp once and then attack to follow it up.
Finally, Dashes are your ground equivalent to stomps. If you’re in the movement range of an enemy, just run up to them and hit A to slide-attack them and any enemy lined up with them, too. Like stomps, you can upgrade certain characters to Dash more than once per turn.
All of these skills should be used first since they’re free to use and able to instantly give you an advantage.
Exploit enemy weaknesses
Enemies will usually have resistance and weakness to an element. You can check these by examining them during battle, so try to learn which enemies are weak and strong to certain elements, and build your team’s loadout to best serve whatever battle you’re about to start. If you find you’ve built a team with weapons that everything is resistant to, that might be a time to restart and switch up your weapons.
Experiment with Sparks
Sparks are another new feature in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, and they play a massive role in combat as well as the narrative. In battle, they effectively function like new abilities that characters can use. Each character can hold two Sparks that can be leveled up with Star Bits and Star Potions to increase their effects.
Every Spark has an active and passive skill, such as Regen and Healing Booster for the Regenesis Spark. This one, as an example, would work perfectly with your healer, such as Peach, while an elemental Spark like Pyrostar that grants burning damage and resistances would be better suited to your attackers.
Since everyone can hold two, find as many Sparks as you can and mess around with different combinations on different characters to find out what you like.
Tune the difficulty
You will be asked to pick the game’s difficulty very early on in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, with three choices offered: Relaxed, Average, and Demanding. Each has a bit of flavor text but doesn’t exactly spell out what’s going on.
- Relaxing: Enemies deal less damage and have less health, while your team’s HP is partially restored after every battle. Your Hero Skills are also automatically added after battle.
- Average: Enemies deal normal damage and have regular HP, and your team’s HP is only partially restored at the start of every new level. You need to manually add Hero Skills.
- Demanding: Enemies will deal much more damage and have higher HP values, and your team will never automatically restore HP. Hero Skills are still added manually.
In addition to these three broad settings, there are also more ways to tune the difficulty in the Gameplay section of the menu. Here, you can swap between the difficulties at any time but also switch on an invulnerability mode if you find a particular battle or boss too challenging and just want to get through it. Or, if you find it more fun, just play the entire game without being able to take damage. It’s all up to you!