Mario + Rabbids Creative Director Davide Soliani says the best compliment he’s ever received for Kingdom Battle is that it helped someone fall in love with even more tactical games.
“We tried to make tactical games fun for people, even if they were afraid of it at first [trying them.] We made it more colourful, almost chromatotherapeutic, more welcoming.”
Now, with Sparks of Hope on the horizon, he wants to open the doors even wider. Soliani wants Sparks of Hope to continue to be a gateway to the genre for new players, while also providing a real challenge for those who have become tactical experts.
The most obvious way the Sparks of Hope team achieves this is through the difficulty levels. After the tutorial, Beep-0 will ask the player roughly how difficult he thinks his mission will be and asks him to select an easy, normal or expert difficulty level, which can be adjusted again at any time in the menu.
But there are other, smaller ways Sparks of Hope invites a slightly more customizable difficulty. As we point out in our preview, it’s easier to grind levels with all the enemies roaming the map, side quests, and secrets. So if you’re struggling with a story fight, there are ways to get your way. But you can also more than freely blast through the story for a more challenging experience, and come back later to whatever additional missions you’re interested in.
Soliani says the difficulty systems were inspired, at least in part, by his love for indie platformer favorite Celeste, which is notoriously difficult but also comes with a number of options to toggle certain challenging elements on and off, including the ability to easily defeat the protagonist make. Madeleine, invincible.
Mario & Rabbids Sparks of Hope Screens (Nintendo Direct – September 2022)
“I think I’ve talked to people in the past who have had kids and they’ve played the game together,” says Soliani. “And sometimes it was too difficult for them to make progress. And then I’m like, ‘Okay, but if someone just wants to enjoy the game for the narration, why not?’ So if you’re operating on that difficulty today, you too can be invincible and play the whole game, joining the narrative, graphics and humor without any challenge.”
But at the same time, he adds, a lot of people already in the Mario + Rabbids community have given feedback that the game should be even harder. So Soliani and Ubisoft signed them as well.
“I think you can really tailor the experience of this type of game to the type of player that you are. So we said we should really open up to our players and make sure they can enjoy the game the way they want. You want more difficulty, go for it. You want something simpler, do it.”
We’ve yet to see exactly how wild this challenge can get, but we were able to explore some of Sparks of Hope’s much broader tactical possibilities in our preview of the game. You can also learn more from our interview with Soliani, including why the Rabbids are speaking now, and which Nintendo character Soliani (as a fan) would like to see in Mario + Rabbids in the future.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.