When characters from the Mario universe scream in pain, are burned by flames and grilled by electric fences, it can only mean one thing: Football is taking place in the Mushroom Kingdom. The Mario Strikers series began in 2005 with the Nintendo GameCube title Mario Smash Football (American title: Super Mario Strikers) and was the first Nintendo project from the then third-party studio Next Level Games. We take a look back at the timeless classic, which from today’s perspective, more than 15 years later, is still much loved by many fans. Since we have not yet had a test of the game on ntower, we will do it very quickly.
Football has been played in the Mushroom Kingdom since 2005.
After Mario and his friends had already played tennis, golf and baseball, a new sport of football was on the way. However, this sport is played differently from classic football games. There are 4 field players per team on the field, divided into a captain and three teammates. They are joined by Kritter, who takes on the role of goalkeeper. The captains are freely selectable main characters like Mario, Luigi, Wario, Peach, Yoshi or Donkey Kong, the three teammates are all identical and can form a trio of Toads, Birdos, Koopas or Hammer brothers. An exception is the unlockable Super Team, which consists exclusively of captains and whose goal is defended by a Robo-Kritter. There are a total of different captains and four teammates to choose from. In terms of gameplay, however, the characters in this game differ very little from each other.
Unlike real football, there are no rules on the field. With the ability to glide tackle or even perform a blood slide with the push of a button, you can skillfully take the ball from your opponents. With slide tackling, your character is less aggressive, but retains the ball you have caught. With blood slide tackling, the opposite character is pushed back properly and loses the ball, which does not quite fall down on its feet so easily. The blood slide can be carried out particularly conveniently at the edge of the field, because the field is surrounded by electric fences. If a fielder touches the electric fence, he is deactivated for a few seconds. Only goalkeeper Kritter is invincible and often acts aggressively. So do not get too close to him, otherwise he will push you away.
In multiplayer, the title hits like a bomb
The attacking options work just as well as the defensive strategies. You can perform a flat pass or a high pass. All of this works great. If you stand really well in front of the goal and give a cross to the team player, the ball turns green in a short time. The so-called dream pass has been completed, and if the player presses the shot button, a cool slow-motion animation will appear, which makes the shot on target much more dramatic. The shots on target can be charged from a standing start by pressing the shot button. But if a captain fires the shot, it turns into a super shot that can be thrown into the goal in a more targeted way using a quicktime event: the super shots are scored by two goals, but I personally have never been a fan of this scoring system.
Even the goalkeeper is not always perfect.
I wrote that there are no rules, but “offenses” will be punished. If you tackle a player who has not touched a ball within the last second, the opponent receives an object. Another way to earn items: Take well-placed shots on goal, even if they miss. The items, of which a maximum of two can be held, also provide a very important tactical advantage in the game and can be used as an attacking or defensive measure. In addition to bananas and four types of tanks, there is also the sponge, which gives you a speed boost, and bob-ombs, which create an explosive atmosphere. If your team is far behind, you have the chance to get powerful items like the superstar or even the chain dog. The latter tears down everything that stands in his way. Less an object, but a gimmick in the game is Bowser, who can randomly appear at any time and cause chaos on the court. Personally, I was quite annoyed with his performance, luckily it can be exhibited in free departments.
There is absolutely nothing to complain about in terms of pure gameplay, so it is already particularly well done in the very first title of the Mario Strikers series. The gameplay is easy to learn but hard to master. Graphically, the game is pretty good on time. Particularly noteworthy are the character personalities that have been added to what are often very generic Nintendo characters. The two princesses Peach and Daisy encounter a little more arrogant and confident, Wario and Waluigi let their crazy nature shine, and Yoshi looks a bit like a pet.
Especially recommended from today’s point of view
Still, I have to state that there is hardly any difference between the different characters in terms of gameplay, and that they hardly differ from each other except for the animations. On the one hand, this provides the advantage that each character can be selected according to preference without having to compromise on the game. However, it lacks some variation. The biggest and most important point to criticize about the game is the content of the game. Apart from the free play and the tournament mode with two difficulty levels, the game has no other game modes. In the free game, some unlockable cheat codes as well as useful settings such as playing time, items, super shots or Bowser appearances can also be adjusted. There are a total of 7 stadiums, but all are identical in terms of play and different in appearance. You can see that Next Level Games focused more on the gameplay and less on the content. Overall, the game can be played particularly well in local multiplayer. As a single player, the game gets boring relatively quickly, although the computer opponents at the highest difficulty level are quite tough, but always fair.