Ubisoft has today unveiled a feast of fresh Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope gameplay footage, showcasing its intriguing new settings, characters and chaos.
This sequel to the excellent Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle takes place in a "whimsical" and gorgeous new galaxy, that's a curious blend of both Mario Galaxy and Rabbids universes. Within its orbit float worlds of autumnal colour, frozen snow and sandy beaches, like a Mario Galaxy game in miniature.
The story here revolves around Cursa, a dark entity that wants to absorb this hybrid galaxy's energy and capture the Sparks - cute creations that are a mix of Galaxy's Lumas and the Rabbids. It's up to Mario and his Kingdom Battle crew to save the day, now aided by Rabbid Rosalina, the punky-looking rabbid Edge, and - as we found out yesterday during the latest Nintendo Direct - Bowser himself.
Sparks of Hope's worlds are now seemingly more open, with sidequests to complete and secrets to find via some light puzzle-solving. Even in battles, you'll control characters in real-time - without a grid to stick to.
I'm intrigued to see some new Rabbids characters here also - perhaps a way around Nintendo's own weird rules around designing fresh Mario faces - some of which are amusingly Rare/Playtonic-esque.
Today's footage also goes into detail on the game's combat system, where each character has their own unique ability (eg. shields, putting enemies to sleep, counter-attacks), call upon different Sparks for extra bonuses, and can level up.
"Battles are truly at the core of our game," game director Davide Soliani said in a presentation attended via Eurogamer. "We wanted to go crazy with the combat system beyond what you usually see in the turn-based combat genre."
Soliani also confirmed Sparks of Hope's music will this time be provided by the returning ex-Rare veteran Grant Kirkhope - as the composer revealed last year - as well as Ori and the Blind Forest's Gareth Coker and Yoko Shimomura, of Kingdom Hearts and Mario & Luigi fame.
So, what did you think of the new gameplay? For me, it's the most promising game to come out of Ubisoft in a while - and the best-looking game starring Mario in some time as well.
Finally, if you missed it yesterday, Ubisoft has now confirmed the game's 20th October release date - catch up on that and everything else from the new Nintendo Direct.