Mario Strikers: Battle League Game Review | Games

Platform: nintendo switch

Let’s face it, professional football isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Watching 22 millionaires kick a ball for 90 minutes and only see the occasional goal can be a dull way to spend an afternoon. What if half the players were lizards, dinosaurs or anthropomorphic mushrooms? What if chewing on a mushroom mid-game could give you a burst of superspeed?

Luckily, Nintendo had the same thing – and so a certain plumber and his pals come up with a football game fun enough to please both lifetime subscription holders and anyone less enamored with the so-called “beautiful”. Game”. Like most sports in Mario, Mario Strikers: Battle League takes a liberal approach with its adaptation of the sport, shrinking the size of the full squad to present a colorful, hyperkinetic version of the five-a-side game, with fast-paced matches filled with power-ups, charged shots, and near-unstoppable Hyper Strikes .

While smaller teams make it easier to follow matches in the middle of the scrum, the basic structure is similar enough to Fifa, albeit stripped down – movement, passing, tackling and goal shooting are all simple enough for absolute beginners to understand, but with enough tweaks to the footy formula to keep things interesting for older players competent. For example, while a simple press of the shot button will see whoever has the ball attempt a goal, such a low effort is unlikely to get past the keeper. Instead, movement of the L Stick while firing can change the direction of the strike and may be more likely to score, while holding A down before firing to charge the shot – although this also leaves your attacker open at a tackle.

Timing is everything battle league. By pressing the pass button again just as the ball is received, it is sent immediately to another player, or by pressing the shot, the receiver will immediately attempt to score a goal, confusing the opposing team with speed . Likewise, releasing the charge button at the precise peak of a shot or tackle further increases their power – get the perfect timing on a tackle, and you’ll stun the opponent for an extra second or two, enough time to make a crucial difference to a game.

Impressive are the power-ups – a collection of familiar items drawn mostly from Mario Kart, thrown onto the field by fans – do not massively unbalance the matches. Even the familiar invulnerability star isn’t the game-changer one might expect, offering only a few seconds of power (luckily there’s no blue shell). There’s also a brilliant degree of chaos to unleash, as items have to be used in the order they’re acquired rather than tactically saved. If you have a Bob-omb in your inventory first, someone gets blown up before you can use what’s in slot two.

Fun, accessible and offers an entertaining twist on real-world sport.

The real MVP, however, is the hyper orb, which can be collected by either team and unlocks the aforementioned Hyper Strikes. Again, timing is crucial – line everything up perfectly, and you’ll unleash a cannonball of a shot that explodes right in front of the keeper. They are so impressive that they are worth two goals. Even then, Hyper Strikes doesn’t feel overpowered – it’s all too easy to get the timing wrong, so landing one feels truly earned.

There are also plenty of customization options for players, with unlockable gear allowing you to tweak character stats. There’s a clever balance here – each character’s stats still add up to 63, so if you were to increase Peach’s strength to the point that she could slip tackle Bowser, her stats in other categories would be reduced to compensate. . Building a perfectly balanced team is arguably more tactical than battle leagueThe matches themselves are.

Unfortunately, that’s about all there is to it. Strikers‘ gameplay. Whether it’s diving into a quick single-player match, playing through playoff cups – usually themed around playing against teams that specialize in one attribute or another, challenging players to think about their own style of game to defeat their rivals – or in online club matches, there is little variance in how the game plays out. It even lacks the variety of Mario Kartbecause despite the cool visual of the land being built from two different worlds smashed together, these combined realms have no impact on the game.

Unlike many other Mario games with sports or racing fame, Strikers isn’t as fun to play solo either. While taking part in a round of Mario Golf or a set or two of Mario Tennis can be fun to dive into solo, Strikers is really best enjoyed in multiplayer, either locally or using Strikers Club mode online. This is the biggest update to the series in the 15 years since the last Mario Strikers game, allowing players to create their own club and customize just about everything from kit to stadium, with club members choosing a favorite character for permanent presence. It’s a great addition for those who are going to spend a lot of time on the game, but its benefits aren’t as tangible for solo or casual gamers.

Still, as a package, it’s hard not to like Mario Strikers: Battle League. It’s fun, accessible, and offers an entertaining twist on real-world sport, while delivering enough football thrills to appeal to die-hard fans. A kick that anyone can appreciate.