Creative director Davide Soliani says the new difficulty settings stemmed from his love of Celeste’s flexible challenges.
Mario + Rabbids creative director Davide Soliani says that the best compliment he ever received for Kingdom Battle is that it helped someone fall in love with even more tactical games.
“We tried to make people enjoy tactical games, even if they were initially scared of [trying them.] We made it more colorful, almost chroma-therapeutic, more inviting.”
So now, with Sparks of Hope on the horizon, he wants to throw the doors open even wider. Soliani wants Sparks of Hope to still be a gateway to the genre for new players, but also to properly challenge those who have grown into tactics experts.
The most obvious way that the Sparks of Hope team is accomplishing that is with difficulty levels. Following the tutorial, Beep-0 asks the player roughly how hard they think their mission is going to be, inviting them to select an easy, normal, or expert difficulty that can be adjusted again in the menu at any time.
But there are other, smaller ways in which Sparks of Hope invites a somewhat more customizable difficulty. As we point out in our preview, it’s easier to grind levels with all the roaming enemies around the map, sidequests, and secrets, so if you’re struggling with a story fight there are ways to push through. But you’re also more than free to charge through the story for a more challenging experience, and circle back to whatever extra missions you’re interested in later on.
Soliani says that the difficulty systems were at least in part inspired by his love of indie platformer darling Celeste, which is notoriously difficult but also includes a number of options to turn on and off specific challenging elements, including the ability to just make the protagonist, Madeline, invincible.
Mario & Rabbids Sparks of Hope Screens (Nintendo Direct – Sept 2022)
“I think that in the past, I spoke with the people who had a child and they were playing the game together,” Soliani says. “And sometimes it was too difficult for them to progress. And then I say, ‘Okay, but if someone wants to enjoy the game just for the narrative, why not?’ So today, by acting on the level of difficulty, you can also be invincible and do the whole game and join the narrative, the visuals, the humor without challenge.”
But at the same time, he adds, a lot of people already in the Mario + Rabbids community gave feedback that the game should be even harder. So Soliani and Ubisoft obliged them, too.
“I think that you can really tailor the experience of this kind of game around the type of player you are. So we said we should really open up to our player and make sure that they can enjoy the game as they want. They want more difficulty, go for it. They want something easier, go for it.”
We have yet to see exactly how wild that challenge can get, but we were able to explore some of the much wider tactical possibilities of Sparks of Hope in our preview of the game. You can also see more from our interview with Soliani, including why the Rabbids talk now, and what Nintendo character Soliani (as a fan) wants to see added to Mario + Rabbids in the future.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.
Keyword: Mario + Rabbids Wants to Be a Gateway to Other Tactics Games>