Luigi is the character of Mario Kart, and the creeper is chattering Mario''s name when he comes off the road and wants you to know it was personal. Now: Luigi is the sniper, with a warm heart and a steady gaze. Luigi is winning the game, bringing us all home.
Luigi was the sniper in the first Mario + Rabbids game, which asked, what if you gave everybody in the Mushroom Kingdom a bunch of guns? That''s kind of an awful question, but Ubisoft managed to provide a surprisingly nice answer for it: Mario takes cover. Peach healing. Toad going for overwatch. Luigi sniping.
The sequel: Sparks of Hope didn''t happen for me until it clicked instantly. Luigi as a sniper, says in action, how like...well, stick Luigi on Overwatch and see. Luigi sniping across the map, wracking up 2000 points of damage. Luigi bringing us all home.
Sparks of Hope uses the basic Mario + Rabbids formula and adds some fun tweaks. Even if the planets in the Galaxy games were often defined by how you moved through them with platforming skills, they evolved into playgrounds, soft-plays, obstacle courses, and more. Regardless, the rhythm: you arrive and have to sort things out for the locals. Hundreds of side-quests if you''re going for absolutely everything.
This part of the game is pretty good, according to some people. Each planet - autumn, winter, and a few others I will not spoil - has a characterful bit of plot going on. In one I climbed a snowy mountain to release the sun''s power. In another I climbed a wooded mountain, chatting to locals, and solving puzzles with the help of two gadgets, but the other is also useful. It''s fun whether you''re rerouting water through
Sparks really flies on the battlefield, and these battles are complex, removing you from the map and into a special zone filled with cover, pipes, and other tactical Mario goodness. The first game, however, the grid system is out, allowing you to maneuver around each character''s movement area in a much more dynamic way, often finding just the right spot to take cover or make special attacks. Along with weapons and special attacks, you can now spend your action points on Sparks abilities.
Sparks are fantastic fun to discover the right synergies, including adding electrical or flame to your main attack. Another might add a few low-level annoyance baddies to your main attack. A Sparks gust attack may be done on a cliff.
This last part opens up about something that truly comes to the fore in Sparks of Hope. Characters are fantastic, each with their own weapon quirks and specials, and the Sparks bring a lot of fun to the battlefield. However, the real delight here is the way that a game of XCOM slowly transforms into a game of billiards.
Real talk: When I play XCOM, I always play it as a form of American Football. I have these heavy players on the pitch, and each time I rush them into cover I feel like I''m really kicking them up the field, a wall of dismalness that crushes all before it. Sparks of Hope is lighter on its feet than that, and more wonderfully chaotic. Fire attacks are seen by your adversaries - or your team - in unusual situations. There are gust attacks, and at least one
This turns out to be spectacular fun, tactical, and knockabout, as you''d expect if you combined Mario and XCOM. Each character has a few skill trees to add into them as they level. (Characters also auto-level off the battlefield.) Throw in bosses, inventive victory conditions, and clever battlefield design.
I''ve completed the campaign but I''m still going through side quests, which gives you a great experience to choose away from. I imagine I''ll be playing Sparks of Hope over the next few months, the way I still play XCOM, which I think is to say it is a quick battle here and there, as long as he hits overwatch, and new tricks to defeat certain baddies. I''ll be looking for extra places to put Luigi so he can see the terrain, pick a distant