Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope's Original Game Soundtrack is out now, boasting 52 tracks from the game. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle composer Grant Kirkhope returned to score the new game, but didn't work alone this time around; legendary Japanese composer Yoko Shimomura and multi-award-winning composer Gareth Coker joined him to create music for Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope.
During a studio tour of Ubisoft Milan, Romain Brillaud, the audio director for Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, spoke with Ubisoft News about working with the team of three composers to create the game's soundtrack.
What lessons did you learn from working on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle that helped shape Sparks of Hope?
Romain Brillaud: After Kingdom Battle, we were able to get some feedback from players on stuff they liked and stuff that didn't work out the way we wanted. One of the things that stuck out about the music was Grant Kirkhope's touch, we wanted to continue and keep this identity for the second game. The attention to detail - whether it's in the ambience or sound effects - is also something we could see the community reacted to in a very positive way. So we thought, OK, this is a standard we need to maintain for Sparks of Hope.
On the other hand, I felt afterwards that we could have more contrast in the game; that we had some kind of linearity in Kingdom Battle. So the aim for Sparks of Hope was to bring more contrast to the music and sound effects.
How did you decide to add additional composers for Sparks of Hope? What was it like working with them?
RB: We really wanted to keep working with Grant, because he's such a talented composer and is really tied to the way our game sounds, which is part of the identity of this game overall. The idea was to keep his touch, to keep his color, but also bring additional colors and new emotions into the mix, new paces, a new way to see a battle.
It has been absolutely fantastic working with all three composers, because first of all, for me as an audio director, I had the chance to have three versions of the same game. Then the consistency is brought by transitioning from one composer to another. We keep them briefed in the same way, with a common base in the briefing, relying on the narration, on the level design, on the game design, and the art and animation. Those elements are the foundation for the music for every one of the composers.
Finally, recording every track of the game at the same place in Japan, in two different studios, under the coordination of Ms. Shimomura - that's what really glues the game together, because all the sounds of the production, from all composers , sound the same. They're played by the same performers, and it's all recorded with the same gear. It's mixed by the same engineers, so that creates consistency.
How do you create the different audio feels for the battlefields and the open world? Why is it important to have that difference?
RB: The goal was to have major differences between the exploration field and the battlefields. First of all, unlike Kingdom Battle, we don't have music all the time during exploration; we rely on the world ambience there. While in a battlefield, you need the music to push you to get the adrenaline started. We need the music to convey that this is a high-paced tactical RPG, too. So there is a big contrast of dynamics between the exploration and the battlefield, and we also use completely different textures of sound. For example, all the sharp synthesizer gameplay is inspired by vintage anime with a modern twist, because those are songs that need to be really impactful and stand out from the mix. We wouldn't use them in exploration, because that would be too aggressive. Everything is smoother going into a big soundscape when you feel everything is connected.
You can listen to the Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope Original Game Soundtrack on streaming services now. For more on Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, read about how the game updated its tactical formula, how the team created the new character, Edge, or about its accessibility features. Be sure to follow Ubisoft News' dedicated hub for more updates.