After pulling out all the stops for Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, the crossover series is now challenged with how to outdo itself for a third game.
For a crossover that fans might not have anticipated, the Mario + Rabbids transition into a fully-fledged series proves it has lasting potential for both Nintendo and Ubisoft, but following up Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope with a threequel could prove challenging. Though Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle positioned itself as a non-canon collaboration between the two industry giants and their hit franchises, the unexpected sequel has risen to popularity among players. Sparks of Hope even drew greater influence from Super Mario canon than its predecessor. However, this has left the strategy-based crossover series with questions about its future.
For its first game, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Ubisoft had the freedom to pool its enemies, weapons, and level designs from the wealth of Super Mario content while adding in the crazed and slapstick humor that the Rabbids bring to the table. A sequel consequently had to up the ante, requiring Ubisoft to venture further afield for content to bring to Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. To this end, it seems the sequel settled on Super Mario Galaxy as a widely recognizable and popular subsection of the series, but this ultimately leaves few other Super Mario games to explore in a threequel.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Sets a New Standard
Despite the tonal differences between the two flagship series, many fans would agree that Mario + Rabbids as a concept has worked exceptionally well, capable of balancing the zaniness of the Rabbids alongside Mario’s versatile, family-friendly appeal. Combined with the unique approach of real-time strategy combat in the Super Mario world players are used to, the series wields a great deal of potential, especially with the additions and improvements Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope brought. But many of these changes came thanks to Super Mario content providing the series its backbone to build upon.
For instance, while Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle saw eventual DLC include Nintendo’s other Mario-adjacent characters like Donkey Kong, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope dove deep into other Super Mario canon with Super Mario Galaxy. Not only did this see characters like Bowser or Rabbid Rosalina introduced to the series, but core mechanics such as the titular Sparks and their associated combat effects were tied directly to Lumas. Even Princess Rosalina herself was overtaken by the game’s antagonist, ultimately setting a precedent Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle wasn’t able to, letting the games take greater influence from the Super Mario series.
Limited Future Options for Mario + Rabbids
Despite the series’ success, the issue is where Mario + Rabbids can go beyond Super Mario Galaxy when there aren’t as many content-rich or readily malleable Super Mario games. Super Mario Sunshine is arguably the closest contender thanks to its return in Super Mario 3D All-Stars, but roaming Isle Delfino feels like a significant downgrade from the scope of space and interdimensional travel. Alternatively, some fans have suggested leaning instead on Mario’s novelty side of Super Mario Party with settings like the Wild West or possibly Luigi’s Mansion as inspirations, with a playable E. Gadd or Rabbid Boos.
However, these settings would still struggle in eclipsing the scope of Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. Expectations were set even higher among fans when the Rabbids’ forebear was brought back to Ubisoft’s focus with Rayman’s inclusion in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. It’s possible that the Mario + Rabbids series doesn’t have to rely so much on Nintendo’s content for a threequel, as Rayman’s involvement could open doors with Ubisoft with Globox, Teensies, Hoodlums, and more.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is available now for Nintendo Switch.