The legendary Bisboch answers the questions of TechGameWorld.com: here is the interview with Andrea Babich, narrating heart of Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
After the presentation of the game to the Italian trade press and the tour of the offices, our trilogy of specials dedicated to Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope could only end with theinterview to the game’s narrative director, Andrea Babich. As we have already done in the past, also on this occasion we must make a proper mention of the background of some members of the large Ubisoft Milano family. Not all development teams, in fact, can boast of having former editors among their ranks, with one of the best magazines in the sector that the Italian videogame press could churn out.
Let’s talk, in case, of Nintendo the Official Magazine, for NRU friends. The team at work on this magazine has changed often and willingly, while maintaining the same values intact. Hardly, from the advent of the GameCube to the fateful July 2013, you could have found the classic seal of quality of the Big N proudly standing on the cover. And we don’t know how it was possible to master an elegant vocabulary while maintaining a sort of “kayfabe” through columns signed by the Nintendo characters themselves, but one of the main proponents of this balance is our own Bishop.
From the land of persimmons to the Mushroom Kingdom
The first crucial point of our interview with Andrea Babich was the return in the world of Mario + Rabbids: after inviting us to speak to him, Bisboch emphasized the ambitions of Sparks of Hope. And if there is one person who can aim high with the plumber, it can only be the one who signed a book literally called The Worlds of Super Mario.
everything: It is a great pleasure to meet you. How does it feel to return to the Mushroom Kingdom after the first crossover, especially considering that the made in Italy videogame has only recently blossomed?
Babich: Well, what it feels like … you feel first of all (in my opinion) a beautiful thing. The real goal, for me as for the whole team, is the fact of returning, but on a larger, almost galactic scale. We are no longer limited to Peach’s Castle, but rather experience a space adventure in every sense. It makes me happy to return to the scene of the crime, and even more so with greater ambitions. And it was this that convinced me on the fly. It is not a “mission pack” style sequel, but an authentic sequel, a complete continuation.
We Remember, Hurray – interview with Andrea Babich for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
The argument of the background from editor we touched on Andrea Babich even before the interview, when Ugo Laviano told us about a passage “from taking apart a toy to analyze it to creating one”, and now Bisboch is more than happy to echo it.
everything: Not all of our readers may know this, but part of the development team has previously worked in the trade press. What’s it like to switch from Nintendo the Official Magazine to a Big N affiliate product?
Babich: Well, in the meantime many things have happened in between. The step was not only great for me, but also for others in my team, such as Roberto Magistretti, also from Nintendo the Official Magazine. The first hurdle was to get used to the game design itself. Game development saw me grappling with this aspect, and cushioned the impact with this new reality. If I had gone straight from my role as editor to having the reins of a Mario title, I would probably have gone mad! However, at the beginning of this journey, with the first Kingdom Battle we immediately accepted the challenge. “We are the right people”, not only because we were familiar with the basic material, but also because we have loved it since we were children. This sincere love saved us from day one, and the players have noticed it. I hope they notice it also with the second one [gioco].
The thumbs up of the mustache – interview with Andrea Babich for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
And this is where our chat comes to life. A game as “unlikely” as the first Kingdom Battle caught everyone off guard, and this time some expectations there are.
everything: Let’s talk about the game. Evidently the Kyoto giant must have been impressed by the crossover, as much as the rest of the gaming community. Did you have more creative freedom in this regard?
Babich: As I said before, the thing Nintendo and Ubisoft immediately agreed on was the intention to create a real following. A request for our team was born from the will that aligned the two companies. Between the two, one at random could have easily preferred something more derivative. Instead they both wanted to raise the stakes. I think the key is this: “let’s create something even more ambitious”. There has never been any doubt about it.
Grilled eggs and chicken – interview with Andrea Babich for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
Have you ever tried the turn-based title Hogs of War, from the good soul of Infogrames? The 2000 title reproduced in 3D the gameplay of Worms even before the latter, and theabandonment of the grid it gave the writer the exact same feeling.
everything: The grid formula is giving way to more Hogs of War-like movement and turn management. In a question of “chicken and egg”, did the abandonment of the grid come first or the Sparks to which it is closely linked?
Babich: As a question, this one is very much about game design. The feeling is that the will to remove the grill came first. It is one of the objectives we aimed at at the beginning: how to make the game more accessible, without losing the tactical depth? And here I really say it as a player, design is not (anymore, ed) my branch. But the feeling of dynamism, already experienced from the first tests with the prototype, was magical. The mutual search for the three heroes, or two, or four depending on the case, happens naturally. So the game designers immediately aimed for this. The Sparks were born in parallel, for the aforementioned compromise between renewed accessibility and strategic depth by combining the elements. And the number of Sparks in the game provides a number of simply insane combinations.
“We didn’t have to combine Grant and Yoko, that power was buried for a reason” – interview with Andrea Babich for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
We have already spoken, with no small salivation, of the involvement of Grant Kirkhope and Yoko Shimomura in a ‘choral work. What we used as the title above was the original comment to the YouTube video we alluded to in the question below.
everything: Joining Grant Kirkhope and Yoko Shimomura in the same project is a dream for many fans of videogame music: the remix of Treasure Trove Cove in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been called “an arcane power”. (Babich and the PR representative in the room laugh.) How did this collaboration come about?
Babich: It was born from the love of a series of people, Davide in the first place as well as me, for the composers who have made the history of video games. Past, present and future. We have Yoko Shimomura… and what do you mean about her? She has done all kinds of feats in her career. For your part, Grant [Kirkhope] he did the same, from a whole other part of the world. And then there is Gareth: younger, but also projected into the present and into the future. The magic is all in the coherence generated. I listened to the whole soundtrack in a row, and I was in shock. Not for a mere nostalgic “amarcord” towards Yoko Shimomura. It is just another way, another dimension. It is not even comparable to Kingdom Hearts; it is a choral soundtrack, but at the same time with a unique identity. The Tokyo orchestra then helped the three musical currents to blend together. I don’t know in detail how [i tre] have interacted with each other: basically, each has composed their own songs independently. But the briefing of the sound design department was there, to standardize everything. It will be up to the listener to judge; I, personally, was moved.
We tried – Andrea Babich interview for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope
One of NRU’s pre-talented Ubisoft Milano games was Osé: what are you doing, are you trying? for Wii. The magazine commented on it at the time as the equivalent of spinning the bottle, but we cited it in the title above for a question born with timid naivety. Most likely, the appointment with Rayman is set for a Nintendo Direct in the future.
everything: The DLC promises to put Rayman back in the limelight. It will be the first meeting between Mario and the Ubisoft mascot. Can you tell us something about how you will adapt it to the new gameplay context?
PR Representative: No. (Ride)
Babich: [Possiamo dire] That there is a Rayman DLC. (They laugh)
PR Representative: Unfortunately we have to stop here, on this issue!
I will be devoted to you, Shigeru Miyamoto
After having moved good old Bisboch by quoting his own song (Google the lyrics, it’s called Shigeru), we took our leave with a classic farewell formula. However, it is the promise of a crossover future like stand-alone series which left us positively surprised.
everything: What would you say to the readers of TechGameWorld.com? What can you expect from this sequel after an already promising first chapter?
Babich: A true sequel, the gist is this. A real sequel can be expected, trying to carry on all the strengths of the original (and we’ll let players tell if it succeeded) and expand on it. We have ripped the formula from the linearity with which it was born, really widening the possibilities offered by this game world. From these worlds, in the plural. So it remains our absolute will to carry on this new IP, which is Mario + Rabbids. I believe this is it.
We thank again the Ubisoft Milano staff for welcoming us warmly, and for the exchange of words given to us. The game is now available.
Now it’s up to you to tell us yours: will you make your last child born of this bizarre (but very functional) marriage? Let us know below, and as always don’t forget to stay on TechGameWorld.com for all the most important news for gamers and more. For your purely gaming needs, you can instead find the best discounts in digital format on Instant Gaming.