During its E3 event today Ubisoft announced Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, a sequel to their delightful 2017 game Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. It’s a very unlikely Mario game because it’s a cover-centric turn-based tactics shooter in which Mario has a gun. It’s also, despite all expectations, really good.
Mario + Rabbids is probably the best strategy game Ubisoft has ever made: a great game sitting in the delightfully PC-centric tactics genre. It’s a direct evolution from Firaxis’ XCOM series, taking the basic tactical concepts of those games and simplifying them into delicious, bite-size battles on tight maps. Instead of permadeath you get charming slaptstick. It’s the game that really set up the alley-oop for mainstream tactics like Gears Tactics to get made.
It’s also… really not on PC, and likely never will be. Which is a tragedy.
Seriously, it’s a great game. Light and delightful tactics are so rare, but so well-suited to PC, that X-COM’s Julian Gollop almost worked on it. I’d really give a lot for it to hit PC, where it would surely be a huge hit, but Nintendo’s inherent allergy to platforms they don’t control means we like as not won’t ever see it pop up on Steam. It’s the rare Ubisoft game that isn’t available on every possible platform.
With a second game on the way, it’d be great to see Ubisoft (or, really, Nintendo, who probably made the call) reconsider this. There’s at least one perk in it for Nintendo beyond selling loads of copies—the great Kingdom Battle could help change Mario’s PC legacy, which is largely terrible educational games that Nintendo would rather no one remember.
If anyone can convince Nintendo to release a game on PC it’ll probably be a business partner who made a crossover this unlikely work in the first place. We’re not asking for Mario Odyssey here, Nintendo—just the one Mario spin-off where he shoots enemies as often as he jumps on their heads.
A bundle of the original game and next year’s sequel with all their DLC would be a hell of a package, and something I’d love to see in the next few years.
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