|Release Date||June 10, 2022|
|Developer||Next Level Games|
Hey guys! If you haven’t heard of Mario Strikers, it’s one of Mario’s more obscure series’. The first entry to the series was launched in 2005 for the Gamecube, followed by a rather popular sequel released for the Wii in 2007. Given the series’ popularity, it’s odd that they decided to create a sequel 15 years later, but it’s finally here!
Oh, and if you’re expecting a rather conventional football experience, don’t bother. Just don’t. To begin with, the only similarity between this game and football is the presence of two goalkeepers in each net. Aside from this, everything is fair game, in trademark Mario fashion. With no referee in sight, players, who may or may not be human, are allowed to handle the ball during play, violating the entire point of football. What’s more, players engage in bizarre cartoon violence, violently attacking one another for possession of the ball. Beyond this, what more can you expect? The answer? Everything! Bobombs, Red Shells, and Banana Peels are part and parcel of playing in Mario Strikers. And I’ve only scratched the surface of what this game has to offer. In a nutshell, the game is one part Football and five parts Smash Bros.
It’s reasonable to dismiss Mario Strikers as a party game, but underneath its chaotic facade lies a highly competitive and sophisticated game that will satisfy even extreme tryhards. As a certified tryhard experienced in fighting games, you can take my word for it. Funnily enough, it actually has some of the same characteristics. As I continued playing, I could quickly identify the neutral, advantage, and disadvantage states while brawling over the ball, which entails learning how to dodge, tackle, and position your players. To this end, using the correct characters respective to their role is critical, and based on my opponents online, I noticed a distinct lack of knowledge on how to make full use of a character’s stats and gear. Let’s examine how each stat affects your character, shall we?
Tackling power and knockout resistance are affected by Strength, while Speed helps characters maneuver around the field faster
A high Shooting stat, which improves shot Speed and power, should be used for scoring goals, particularly from afar.
The reach of free passes and the Speed of regular passes are both governed by the Passing stat.
Finally, a player’s shooting accuracy, Hyper Strike time window, and dribbling potential are all determined by the Technique stat.
We can rationalize that characters specializing in defending can disregard Shooting and Technique. Defenders instead want high Strength and Speed to effectively tackle others, while strikers will not require high passing Speed and should focus mainly on Shooting and Technique to more easily land the ball in the net. Of course, all-rounders also have their value, just like in real football. Min-maxing your characters to perform specific, delegated roles is essential to getting an edge over your opponent. And with ten playable characters, you have just enough variety to craft the dream team designed for your preferred playstyle.
Originally, I turned my Waluigi, who comes with high Strength, Speed, and technique, to become a goal-scoring machine by reducing his already lackluster Passing stat for more Shooting and Technique. While Toad, a character with low Strength and high Speed, is optimized for higher Strength and Speed at the cost of reduced Shooting and Technique, making Toad a competent defender. Wario, on the other hand, functions much like my all-rounder. His tremendous Strength is traded for Speed, allowing him to quite fittingly give Waluigi some crucial passes as a midfielder.
Bowser is optimized for Speed. While not quite as fast as Toad, he performs stronger ball tackles. Getting accustomed to their min-maxed stats takes time, of course. After all, you’ll be using a Waluigi who sucks at passing and a Toad who shoots like a wet noodle. But once you acquaint yourself with their advantages and limitations, the improvement throughout matches becomes apparent. And, of course, when your team is finally ready, the best place to bring them is to claim glory online against other gamers. Doing so will require a Nintendo pass, unfortunately, but without a career mode, the single-player experience is relatively weak, similar to Nintendo Switch Sports. You can play with another player in 4 vs 4 battles, which is wonderful while playing with a friend.
If you lack the necessary coins to upgrade your characters, an easy method is to play the offline Cup Battles mode. The first few Cup Battles are extremely easy, and you’ll be rewarded with a whopping 400 coins. There are five cups, leaving players with access to 2,000 coins, which is enough for 20 armor pieces. And that’s only the first set of cups.
The Championship Cup is unlocked once you’ve completed all five cups on regular difficulty.
Then, there’s Galaxy Mode, which can be unlocked by completing all of the cups on the regular level.
The cups are significantly more difficult in this environment, and the rewards are even greater.
Instead of the 400 coins players acquire through conventional cups, players can get a staggering 1,000 coins upon completion.
You’ll get another 1,000 once you’ve accomplished this in Galaxy mode.
Suffice to say, acquiring a considerable number of coins is easy, allowing players to build numerous teams.
Overall, I really like Mario Strikers: Battle League. However, while the game’s mechanics are splendid, the same can’t be said for its paltry roster of only 10 characters, a far cry from the Wii version’s 20 playable characters. Gear somewhat makes up for this, offering players the option to alter their character’s stats. Still, it doesn’t give quite the same variety the way the Wii version’s character-unique abilities did. And as I mentioned previously, the game could fare better for those unwilling to get the Nintendo Pass, similar to Nintendo Switch Sports, which I covered in one of our Worth a Buy episodes. Regardless, Mario Strikers: Battle League is a downright addicting experience, assuming you’re prepared to spend hours understanding its sophisticated mechanics.
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