The positive reception to Kingdom Battle meant that Brillaud, Soliani, and Kirkhope were soon discussing plans for the sequel. Soliani wanted to do what Nintendo does with all of its sequels: go bigger. Sparks of Hope would have more intense battles and boss fights, more RPG elements, more locations to explore, more Rabbid caricatures of iconic Nintendo characters, and, much to Kirkhope’s surprise, more composers.
“We wanted to keep Grant because he’s the musical identity of the first game and what it sounds like to blend the Mario universe with Rabbids,” Brillaud explains. “He brought the silliness of the Rabbids—Grant being Grant—and also these big, epic, and memorable narrative moments which results in the epic-friendly style to the game.”
Sparks of Hope is a much bigger game and has a darker tone than its predecessor, so Brillaud wanted to add new elements of musical color to the score. This was especially important given the diverse landscapes of the worlds you explore and a heavier focus on Marvel-esque narrative moments. With one legendary composer already onboard, Brillaud thought he’d try his chances and shoot for two more.
“As a director, I needed new colors, and we were lucky enough to have Yoko Shimomura and Gareth Coker both say yes,” Brillaud says. “I believe it’s a perfect mix of dedicated styles.”
Coker’s responsible for driving the emotional atmosphere in Ori and the Blind Forest, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and Halo Infinite, while industry veteran Yoko Shimomura is best known for her iconic melodies in games such as Street Fighter II, Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Mana, Final Fantasy XV, Super Mario RPG, and the Mario + Luigi games on the Nintendo DS.
“I was so happy to work on Mario again, to work with Ubisoft, and to work with great composers like Grant and Gareth,” Shimomura tells WIRED over email. “All in all, I feel incredibly fortunate and privileged to have worked on this project.”
For Coker, the chance to write music for a Mario game rather than just play one was a dream come true. One of the most enticing things about working on Sparks of Hope was the potential to write music that he isn’t typically accustomed to.
“When you listen to my tracks, harmonically and melodically, this is unlike anything on my résumé—and I was definitely not expecting that when I came into this project,” he tells WIRED over a video call. “To be honest, I was expecting to write relatively simple music—and I don’t wanna say this is complex, because it isn’t—but if you’re a composer or musically inclined, you’ll hear a lot of interesting and fun stuff going on here.”
He points to a specific example in the music he’s written for one of the game’s later planets that you explore, Terra Flora, a botanical garden full of alien colors. “Romain was like, ‘What if we explore something slightly French and impressionistic here,’ and I’m like, ‘Wait, what?! In a Mario Rabbids game?’ It’s that kind of thinking I wasn’t expecting from this, and that’s really exciting as a composer.”