Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope DLC 3: Rayman in the Phantom Show Review (Switch eShop)

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

2017’s Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle had one of the best DLCs we’ve ever seen a game starring Mario receive. The Donkey Kong Adventure story expansion saw Donkey Kong and Rabbid Cranky team up with Rabbid Peach to take on tons of reworked enemies and tons of tight, tactical challenges. It proved Ubisoft knew how to make a quality DLC. Thus far, this quality hasn’t extended to the DLC releases for the sequel, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope – while both the Tower of Doooom and The Last Spark Hunter gave us more of what made Sparks of Hope great, they were just that: more of the same.

We had high hopes for the final DLC expansion titled Rayman in the Phantom Show. Not only have we not seen Ubisoft’s platforming poster boy in quite some time, but it looked like it might follow in Donkey Kong Adventure’s footsteps. However, after clearing the regrettably short story, it mirrors Sparks of Hope’s other lacklustre DLCs.

Rayman in the Phantom Show begins with Rayman arriving at the Space Opera Network via a golden invitation, which is a run-down TV studio that produces on a galactic scale. Much to his surprise, he runs into two Rabbids, Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Mario, who aren’t out to cause problems for him. Rather, they also received invitations and came to claim galactic stardom along with their robotic pal Beep-0.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

If you want to see Rayman team up with his platforming peers Mario and Luigi, you’re out of luck. Rayman in the Phantom Show is a completely separate adventure, meaning Rayman cannot join in the quest to stop Cursa and her minions. In fact, other than a couple of post-credits images, Rayman and the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom do not interact, which makes for a rather disappointing crossover.

A lack of Rayman-specific elements furthers this disappointment. Sure, Rabbids originated as a Rayman enemy, but the Space Opera Network has nothing to do with our straw-haired hero’s storied adventures. The Big Bad of the adventure isn’t a Rayman rival either, such as Mr. Dark, but rather a return of Kingdom Battle’s Phantom. While a fun character in his own right, the lack of Rayman elements left us feeling like he deserved better.

Rayman does, however, play quite differently than the other heroes. Instead of using the titular Sparks in battle, Rayman comes equipped with two of his suits: Vortex and Rocket. Switching to either of these suits changes everything about him, such as giving his basic Blaster Shot and Plunger Guards the ability to push foes off the map or cause area-based damage. Rayman can also grab onto flying rings, which is the only element from his games that Ubisoft included. He can also punch blocks and grab distant items, which almost all of the overworld puzzles rely on. These puzzles, as you’d expect, play much like they do in the base game: find a shaped key, use Beep-0 to reveal a hidden bridge, and repeat. We grew tired of them quickly.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Thankfully, Sparks of Hope’s freeform tactical battles still provide a lot of fun. The Phantom has Rayman and friends visit three different themed sets — cowboy, pirate, and mediaeval — to complete a puzzle or two before a boss encounter of some sort. Team hopping to take out Flamin’ Stooges before they can hit you with fiery blasts, and finding a way to pop Darkmess Eyes plays as great as it always has. Of these three sets, the pirate set stands out with a massive cardboard cutout of a Kraken serving as an obstacle, while the cowboy stage reskins a standard foe and the mediaeval one enlarges a Stooge to serve as a boss.

When we finished these three in a few hours of play, we opened the menu to check our progress and were surprised to find the adventure was 80% done. While we still had a lot of little secrets to uncover and puzzles to solve throughout the Space Opera Network, we expected another handful of sets to battle through or a more open area, such as the base game’s Pristine Peaks, to explore. Instead, we merely had to defeat the Phantom to finish the game in under four hours.

The Phantom himself has a few fun musical numbers as we took him on, taking digs at how Rayman hasn’t had a game in a while and lamenting his previous loss at the hands of Mario. The final encounter with him plays almost exactly the same as it did in Kingdom Battle: to break his invulnerability, you must disable his spotlight by destroying the light fixtures near him first. You have to do this three times with increasing difficulty, yet we had grown tired of the mechanic before we finished the first round.


As we haven’t seen Rayman on the Nintendo Switch in quite some time, Rayman in the Phantom Show comes as a disappointment – especially when compared to Kingdom Battle’s Donkey Kong Adventure. The lack of Rayman specific elements, the inability to play as Rayman in the base game, and the rehashing of old enemies and encounters, make this an adventure fit only for those that can’t get enough of Sparks of Hope’s great tactical battles.


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