29 August 2023

5 Min Read

mario rabbids sparks of hope

Rayman in the Phantom Show: Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Comes Full Circle

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope's third and final DLC, Rayman in the Phantom Show, is coming exclusively to Nintendo Switch on August 30, plunging a familiar face into the fight to eradicate Darkmess: Rayman. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle's Phantom of the Bwahpera has returned as well, this time as the studio director for the Space Opera Network, and he has lured Rayman, Rabbid Peach, and Rabbid Mario into a scheme to improve ratings. It's a separate story from Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope's main game, and an end to this phase of the Rabbid friends' adventures.

Knowing this would be the game's final DLC, the development team wanted to deliver something exceptional for players. For Creative Director Davide Soliani, Rayman seemed like an obvious choice to bring in. After all, the Rabbids were first introduced in Rayman Raving Rabbids in 2006, where the Rabbids were enemies Rayman had to fight.

"It felt like closing a circle," says Soliani. "I had to conclude this adventure with the Rabbids inviting Rayman into their universe."

Soliani has a history with Rayman that dates back to 1999, when he started his career in the game industry as a designer for the Game Boy Color version of Rayman. His experience working on Rayman titles throughout the years taught him what makes Rayman games so special - and gave him insights necessary to authentically bring that experience to the Mario + Rabbids world.

"Rayman is a very real-time oriented hero, because all his actions - throwing punches, jumping in the air, using the haircopter to glide, the grappling hook - all happen in real time. And throughout the various games, Rayman always brought something new," says Soliani. "The challenge for the team was how to adapt those abilities for a turn-based tactical game."

According to Soliani, some of Rayman's abilities, like throwing punches from mid-range or using his plunger blaster turrets, converted naturally into Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope for both combat and exploration. Others, like the haircopter and grappling hook, proved more difficult, so the team decided to push the boundaries of turn-based combat and real-time exploration to accommodate those abilities. The result is, as Soliani describes it, "the most action-oriented DLC we have produced," with more vertical movement during exploration, and Rayman able to carry teammates through the air with his haircopter ability.

"Rayman is a game-changer in combat," says Soliani. "His ability of transforming with the costumes are basically giving players three heroes in one."

Instead of equipping Sparks for additional combat abilities and passive boosters, Rayman has two different costumes he can change into. The Rocket costume grants immunity to super effects, and can summon a rocket that will soar around the battlefield, hitting any enemies in its path. The Vortex costume will summon magnetic turrets which draw enemies into their attack radius before firing. Both costumes can be upgraded, making Rayman's transformation even more powerful.

While Rayman has the powers of three heroes, he'll be accompanied by two from the main game's  roster: Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Mario. Though there is precedent in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope for dictating which Heroes a player must use in a specific battle, Rayman in the Phantom Show is the first instance where players have the same team of three for the entire story.

"When you have a limited number of heroes in your team, you can really push the boundaries of the synergy existing in their abilities, and the battlegrounds themselves can be tailored around those heroes" explains Soliani. "And because of that, you can create better progression, better challenges, and better situations for the players."

As to why Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Mario were chosen over other Heroes,  Soliani says it was not only because of their popularity in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, but also because of their dynamic. The two have opposite personalities, which results in a lot of bickering, but over the course of Rayman in the Phantom Show they will learn to work together and appreciate one another.

All told, Soliani believes that Rayman in the Phantom Show is the pinnacle of the Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope experience. The team was able to draw on everything they learned from both Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and the revitalized combat system in Sparks of Hope. And, according to Soliani, anyone who makes it through all the stages and fully completes Rayman in the Phantom Show will receive "a little personal message, and I hope players read it."

Rayman in the Phantom Show launches on August 30 exclusively for Nintendo Switch, and is part of the newly-released Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope + Rayman Edition, which includes the base game and the third DLC. For a more in-depth look at how Rayman is being brought to the game, be sure to watch the Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope - Rayman DLC Behind the Scenes video that released today, and for more on Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, check out its other DLCs, The Last Spark Hunter and Tower of Doooom, or learn about how it changed the combat system from Kingdom Battle.