The Mario Strikers series, which first debuted on Nintendo’s GameCube in 2005, has built a cult following over the past 17 years. However, in the time since that original launch, the series has only seen one additional title hit store shelves. Just two years after that first game launched, Mario Strikers Charged launched on Wii, but that was the last we heard from the Mario Strikers franchise until Nintendo announced a new title for Switch earlier this year, Mario Strikers: Battle League . While fans of the GameCube and Wii entries certainly had a long wait, the 30+ minutes of live gameplay I’ve seen show that Mario Strikers: Battle League is well worth the wait.
As you’d expect, Mario Strikers: Battle League continues many of the franchise’s conventions. Players once again enter an amazing pitch to compete in a football-like sport called Strike. These strike matches consist of five-on-five action – four players on the field for each team (who can be controlled by human players), with a goalie (who cannot be controlled by players) – with essentially no rules for Nintendo athletes; Players can attack each other with no regard for safety, use items to temporarily incapacitate opponents, shove each other into the electric fence surrounding the field, and even pick up the ball with their hands. The gameplay in Mario Strikers: Battle League may superficially look like soccer, but if anything, this is an uncompromising take on the world’s most popular sport. However, the goal at the end of the day is the same: get the ball past the opposing goalie more times than your opponent can before time runs out.
While items like Bob-ombs, Red Shells, Green Shells, Banana Peels, and Super Mushrooms will clutter up the playfield over the course of a given game, the most exciting and effective pickup is the Strike Orb. If you manage to snag a Strike Orb, your entire team will glow for a brief window, giving you an opportunity to perform a Hyper Strike shot. These shots require you to charge up and then properly time a meter to fire the shot at its best. If you time it just right, the shot cannot be blocked, while the opposing team can perform a button-push mini-game to have their goalie block them if you time the meter portion of the shot incorrectly. These Hyper Strikes play out in character-specific cutscenes, with each character possessing their own Hyper Strike. For example, Yoshi unleashes a giant egg that bounces across the field and crushes anyone it lands on before kicking the ball at goal, while Bowser picks up the ball, spits fire at it, and then throws it into the net. When the Hyper Strike goes into the net, it counts as two points, adding extra meaning to these cinematic shots.
Players can conquer the field in three game modes: Quick Battle, Cup Battles, and Strikers Club. Quick Battle is exactly what it sounds like: a one-off match between two teams. Cup Battles serve as the game’s tournament mode and appear to work similarly to Mario Kart’s Cup Series, with you unlocking more cups as you play and earning coins and other in-game rewards. These coins can be exchanged for gear that allows you to customize Mario Strikers: Battle: League characters (more on that later).
The big addition for this entry is Strikers Club. In this online mode you can start or join a club with up to 20 people. From there, any four players from an established club can go online and compete against another Strikers club. Depending on how you perform in the game, you’ll earn coins and club points. You can also earn additional rewards through achievements throughout the season, such as: B. using Hyper Strike shots a set number of times or winning a set number of games. Club Points determine your rank in the league you play in; Teams with the highest points at the end of a season are promoted to the next higher league, while the bottom teams of each season are demoted. With seven leagues moving up and down, it sounds like the game normally delivers an equal competition.
Strikers Club also relies heavily on customization, allowing club owners to personalize uniforms, logos, names and even the stadium where your matches will be played. Through the Club Customization screen, you can unlock and level up various components from the game’s various arenas to make your home field your own. Each club owner chooses a base stadium to build on, but you can then break down parts like fence posts, goals, goal-line decorations and the pitch itself. While that responsibility falls into the lap of each club’s owner, the other 19 members can vote on how they’d like to see the adjustment and give the owner feedback from the rest of their team.
The gear customization suite I alluded to earlier isn’t the most robust I’ve seen in a video game, but it does allow you to use the coins you earn to essentially respec characters in-game . For example, Rosalina is already a strong marksman, but the person running the demo added bullet polishing equipment to make her a seemingly unstoppable scoring machine. On the downside, the already tough Bowser was outfitted with gear that increased his tackle resistance, causing would-be tacklers to ricochet off unsuccessfully most of the time. All of this gear is acquired through coins earned in the various Mario Strikers: Battle League modes. Characters have four slots to customize – head, arms, body, legs – with five upgraded gear sets to unlock and choose from. The gear you equip the characters with is common to all modes and gives you the ability to change the natural stats and appearance of each individual character.
The wait for the final Mario Strikers game may have been long, but if Strikers Club is as immersive as it seems on the surface and the gameplay is as entertaining as my hands-off demo would have me believe, Next Level Games and Nintendo may have another Switch hit on their hands. Mario Strikers: Battle League is coming to Switch on June 10th.
https://www.gameinformer.com/preview/2022/05/27/just-for-kicks Mario Strikers: Battle League Preview – Just For Kicks