Nintendo’s famous plumber … what does Mario really do when he does not have to save the world? Various spin-off titles show that Mario has many “hobbies”. He often competes with his buddies and opponents in mini-games in Mario Party, matches take place in Smash. But he also masters many sports. While tennis and golf usually stay pretty close to the right rules, in “Strike” it’s quite different.
Nintendo and developer Next Level Games let Mario and Co. return to the strike field after 15 years in Mario Strikers: Battle League Football. Does the hard football spin-off provide a convincingly brilliant save, or does it get negative comments?
There’s something bad!
Build your strike team from a selection of eleven characters. The game begins. Five against five. The round must go into the square. Passes, tackles, shots – these are some means to an end. But while regular football is more exclusive, Strike is much more brutal. You can slide tackle or tackle your opponents at any time to take the ball from them or to get them out of the way. A push into the ties gives an electric shock that knocks Striker out for a few seconds.
Similar to Mario Kart,? Blocks appear randomly on the strike field, which can contain green and red tanks, banana peels, mushrooms, stars, and bob-ombs. These objects can help in battles to knock out opponents in a short time and open an opportune time for a shot on goal.
The culmination of a move is a Hypershot. In addition to the object blocks, from time to time impact balls appear on the court. Collect these and you can fire a powerful Hypershot within the next 20 seconds. To do this, hold A down and then adjust the optimal timing on a bar. The attacker prepares for an impressively staged shot. The goalkeeper hangs in to fend off the dangerous attack. If the shot can not be blocked, the target counts twice!
Sliding must be learned
Before we get started, a new supporting character, Fussbot, guides us through all sorts of things to do with Strike. How do you tackle, shoot, deliver? Advanced techniques such as perfect shots, penetrations and team tackles are also explained, so that the brutal kick has a certain mechanical depth. Everything is first shown by Fussbot in short text and image form, after which we have to try the techniques ourselves. Do this three times, then continue. At the end of a tutorial unit, all learned techniques must be performed again against active opponents.
Not too many conditions
Enough to find your way around the tutorial. We want to play Strike! This works in “single game” mode in different constellations. On a console with up to eight players. Up to four consoles can be connected in local mode, so a total of eight players, two per. console, can also play here.
In online mode, two players can also compete on one console against random opponents, against friends or with friends online against random opponents. The online mode is solid and I rarely experienced any delay in my fights against random opponents.
The cup tournaments are still available to individual players. Like cups in Mario Kart, we have to fight our way through a tournament to get the trophy in the end. The six cup tournaments are all designed a little differently. In the combo cup, we compete against teams that are good at passing. Technically savvy opponents meet us, for example, in the trick cup. We get a good amount of coins for the first win, then only a fraction after that, so it does not feel very rewarding to repeat the cup tournaments several times.
In terms of online mode, the Strikers Club is also available. Within a season system, strikers play for their club (created or affiliated) for high season placement or promotion to a higher league. These seasons last for about a week, handing out chips to the club to cosmetically customize the stadium by playing matches, and coins to players by also completing season goals.
Where is the content?
That’s it already. As a starting point, there is the opportunity to play matches, compete in cup tournaments and kick off seasons for the Strikers club. Much more does not seem to be usual for the Strikers series, the Wii origin still had challenges for any playable character. It does not look up-to-date if the predecessor is not surpassed in terms of content. On the contrary: the Striker team has shrunk from twelve to eleven characters compared to the last title. Sidekicks like Koopas, Buuhuus or Shy Guys no longer exist, your own team consists of “captains” as they were called in the predecessors. There are only five arenas left, none of which have more gimmicks.
Gear provides some replay motivation. Each playable character can be donated head, chest, arm and leg armor for collected coins, which also adjusts character stats. So there is still an adaptation aspect to adapting the Strikers a bit to the desired style of play. A total of six sets of armor can be purchased for each attacker, whose parts can also be mixed with each other. But what if all armor parts are acquired?
Nintendo and Next Level Games have at least already announced that more content will be delivered via free updates. There are also new characters among them. When this content will come, and to what extent the whole game will grow, is uncertain. However, I do not think that the scope of Mario Strikers: Battle League Football will change drastically per. patch, unless it is said in advance what to expect. The final product looks half-baked, and players without Internet access or a Nintendo Switch Online subscription can purchase an even slimmer version for the full price of the title.
At least it looks cool
Still, some praise should be given. The character models, animations and special effects are very successful. Each hypershot is bursting with concentrated energy, which is conveyed quite well. It’s also fun to see strikers celebrate goals or get angry when goals are conceded. The game does not run completely smoothly, but the minimal frame rate drops occur so infrequently that they are almost imperceptible. When it comes to sound, the focus is on rocking, groovy music. Fits the gameplay, but some tunes are then sucked out at some point during the game. Above all, I do not want to hear the music in the actual guidance area anymore.
It’s hard to recommend Mario Strikers: Battle League Football. On the one hand, there is the quite fun gameplay, which is easy to learn but still has mechanical depth due to various extra techniques. The game is definitely good for a few rounds of pseudo-football with Mario characters. But the overall package leaves a lot to be desired. Single and offline players are left out pretty quickly because there is not much for Battle League Football to offer them beyond normal matches and cup tournaments. Online, we can compete for the Strikers club, but even that is ultimately just a state where normal matches are played against others. More content will be provided for free – on the one hand nice, on the other hand it raises the question: Is the game finished at all in its current form? Unfortunately, the end product is not very satisfactory.
Artwork: Mario Strikers: Battle League Football, Nintendo, Next Level Games