Nintendo has always known how to give the players a good time with friends and family alike, providing couch co-op and online party games for years. Mario Party, Mario and Sonic at the Olympics and a plethora of Mario sports games that could give any sports fan a fix. A gem amongst the treasures we’ve had throughout the years was Mario Strikers Charged.
As a British boy with a football-hungry family, I’ve always had the sport plastered throughout my life as well as over my bedroom. But to step away from the FIFA’s or the Pes’s and provide an experience that was completely unique was impressive back in 2007. Even to this day fans of strikers have craved a remaster or a remake for the switch.
I now bring you to February 2022’s Nintendo Direct, where the fans (and me) had their prayers answered. The newly announced Mario Strikers: Battle League hit the screen and the stands lost their collective mind. Like a Champions League Final we jumped from our seats and cheered, throwing beer, McCoy’s and fists everywhere. But the shoes that this game would need to fill were big, as both nostalgia and style were major contributors to the original. So, join me as we delve into Mario Strikers: Battle League.
Due to the power of the switch, we’re treated to a beautiful animation of returning and new players leaping onto the pitch. Showcasing the cast that, although less diverse than last time, proves to offer a more skill-based matchup. With the likes of the Mario and Wario brothers, DK and Bowser, Peach and Rosalina and a few others. Battle League’s clear aim was to bring the style and finesse of Charged with a new coat of paint and a more complex form of gameplay, and it delivered.
The original pencilled and rough art style is replaced with a more colourful and streamlined style that could have been pulled straight out of Mario kart. The Stadiums are all designed with different stage references in mind and although they don’t collide with the gameplay, they are still a welcome change of scenery. The enhanced art also coincides with the Hyper strikes much like in Charged. Although the gritty art style of Charged did speak to my emo heart, this brighter and more streamlined style is still incredible to look at. Aside from the need to score goals, watching these incredible shots explode from each character is a treat no matter how many times you’ve seen them.
Before I continue to drool over the art of Battle League, we need to talk about the gameplay! After making it through the start menu cutscene you are thrown straight into the tutorial menu. Here you can learn every technique of the trade and hone your skills as you are taught and challenged to demonstrate new skills in a time period. This is optional and can be exited out to jump straight into the fun.
I would recommend going through a few of the tutorials as there’s a lot to take in and skill is required. Once you’re in matches you’ll pick up the pace as games go on, with the obvious aim of ending with as many goals as possible. This can all be done as a team or as a single player, not limiting players if they don’t have a crowd to game with constantly.
Navigation is easy enough and the standard controls to pass, shoot and hyper strike will come quickly, but the other team won’t make it easy for you. With tackling and weapons involved the football pitch can be chaos at times, and you’ll need a keen eye to weave and pass through it.
Although this can be ridiculous at times and can drive the rage of a football god through you, the wins and goals are extremely satisfying. It’s rare that you’ll walk away not wanting to pick this incredible game back up but be sure to give yourself a break sometimes. After all, football is a passion and passionate people can get very punchy!
Much like most of Nintendo’s online multiplayer games it’s reliable and offers the fun and challenge that the AI just can’t. This title offers an amazing time at a party or just a good time after a long day. So if you’ve got a Switch and you’re on the fence, get off the fence and get on the field, because Mario Strikers: Battle League is a sequel that lives up to its predecessor's name. I’ll see you on the field people, but be warned….It’s coming home!
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