Mario Strikers: Battle League football is a thrilling take on the football genre where FIFA could never have expected, as well as the thrilling power of the classic Super Mario items. But a stingy offer of single-player mode means it’s only really worth it for those who want to dive into online multiplayer.
- Exciting football match
- The game is easy, hard to master
- Fantastic visuals and chic cutscenes
- Massive online multiplayer
- Not enough single-player mode
- Excessively empowered items can be frustrating
- May benefit from big character list
- United KingdomRRP: £ 49.99
- AmericaRRP: $ 49.99
Platform: Available for Nintendo Switch
Release date:10th June 2022
Type:Sports, party games
With football games like FIFA dominating the charts and Mario’s intention to be the rounded sports star on the planet, it doesn’t take long for a mustache plumber to slip on his football boots.
But instead of choosing the flimsy adaptation of the popular game, Nintendo adds its classic chaotic power to the mix; Players can foul the opposition without penalties, offside rules are nowhere to be found, and Warrior Butt’s cheeks can clearly hit the ball harder than Ronaldo’s right foot.
Of course, this is not Mario’s debut in the football world – far from it. Mario Strikers: Battle League Hall follows the third installment of the series, from the sequel to GameCube Original and Charged on the Wii. But how does the new switch entry hold up against its predecessors? Here are my thoughts.
- Lots of fun football mechanics to learn
- Each character has unique statistics
- Stingy offer for single-player mode
Mario Strikers: When you boot the Battle League for the first time, you’ll be introduced to a long tutorial that will guide you through every skill Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom friends have on the football field.
The basic controls are very easy to understand: you can pass, shoot, cross and tackle. The Battle League even features automatic goal accuracy, with passing accurately to teammates. Nintendo has made sure to make this game as accessible to newcomers as possible – even your grandma might be able to grab it with control.
However, Nintendo has ensured that the Battle League is entertaining for experienced players, with a number of optional improvements ensuring a surprisingly high efficiency ceiling.
One-touch passes and shot speeds up the ball, going out of the way of the incoming tackle and your character will start running faster than Mo Salah with a rollerblade. Find enough space on the pitch, and you can even charge your shots and use analog sticks to create a backspin or try to curl the ball around the goalkeeper. I’ve been playing Battle League for countless hours now and I feel like I’m still respecting my skills because there’s so much to learn.
Each team packs a goalkeeper (whom you can’t control) and four outfield characters. You can choose from a list of 10 people, each mushroom kingdom character playing their own stats. Todd is short and weak, but one of the fastest players in the game, while Bowser is slow and difficult to control but so strong that it’s hard to knock him off the ball.
I really appreciate this level of depth, allowing you to interfere with the balance of your team as if you were a real life football manager. I’d prefer a slightly larger range of characters – you can’t have more than two teams without overlap – but Battle League at least makes it with unlockable gear that allows you to change the stats of each character.
Like any other multiplayer Mario game, Battle League has a huge selection of power-up items that are displayed randomly on the pitch throughout a match. These include Mario Kart’s favorites such as green shells, red shells, exploding bob-oms, collar skin and even a super star that makes you temporarily vulnerable to tackle.
However, I feel that these items could become a little more powerful and incredibly frustrating in the Battle League – just imagine that the only homing-missile to reach the target would be dropped by the red shell. I wouldn’t mind too much if the items weren’t so frequent, but it’s common to see about 30 power-ups in a single 4-minute match – this is an item used every 8 seconds.
Due to the claustrophobically compact pitch factor and the extra explosion it becomes very easy to lose the ball track and concede a cheap goal. Nintendo at least offers you the option to turn off items for quick battles and multiplayer, but you’ll have to endure them when playing single-player cup battles.
I also see the Hyper Strike feature proving to be divisive – when collecting on-pitch powerups, you’ll be given the opportunity to take a step that can reward you with one, not two, sure goals (if successful time). I personally don’t think of this feature because it requires you to strengthen the action without having to deal with it which is incredibly difficult against a skilled opponent. Also, Hyper Strike helps players keep their toes because you can reverse a 4-goal deficit in a matter of seconds.
I’m a huge fan of Mario Strikers: Battle League gameplay, the result of a match is usually a thrilling goalfest – you rarely see the annoying 0-0 scoreline here. However, I don’t think there’s enough single-player mode to get the most out of the great gameplay.
Cup battles allow you to fill your trophy room, but the difficulty is minimal and you can reach the final of each tournament by playing just two matches. It only took me a few hours to reach the final credits, making it feel like a training mode instead of a completely single player mode.
I wish Battle League would feature a story mode in the same vein as Mario Tennis Aces, or even the option of playing a full season like Mario’s own version of the Premier League. Instead, Nintendo seems more interested in pushing players into online multiplayer mode.
- Up to eight people can play in one system
- There will be an online multiplayer season
- You can customize your own online club
Mario Strikers: Battle League offers a range of multiplayer modes, whether you’re playing locally or online. Up to eight players (4 in each team) can play in single system. I unfortunately could not invite so many people, but I can imagine it provides a lot of chaotic fun.
If you do not have many friends – or a large living room to accommodate so many people – then you can play online instead. By choosing Quick Battle, you can jump directly into a match with a rival player. I’ve had a lot of fun with these modes, online players show a lot more variety in playstyle than CPU.
However, it is the Strikers Club that will probably bring the most crowds. This mode allows online players to set up their own team, customize your chosen character and personalize your stadium, kit and club logo. Once you win the match you’ll be able to unlock more customizable items, allowing you to switch between new goalposts, stadium themes and pitch decorations – the level of customization here is impressive.
These unlocks are not the only incentive to win the game, as beating the opponent will also see you rise in the division rankings so that you can secure the right to brag for each season. I unfortunately couldn’t figure it out for myself, as the first season won’t start until the official launch of the game.
This is the first day, and yet I’m still skeptical about the longevity of playing Mario Strikers: Battle League online. Since all unlockable items only change the aesthetics, and there are no seemingly new characters on the horizon, I’m worried that the gameplay may quickly become stale. If Nintendo wants online mods to be the main attraction, it needs to enhance the game and have a long-term content plan.
Graphics and presentation
- Impressive 3D model
- Unique chic cutscenes for each character
- Poor game setting option
The visuals represent the biggest upgrade of previous games in the Mario Strikers: Battle League series. 3D animations look great with bright colors and detailed character models. The matches begin with a dramatic scene in the stadium, with a cheerful crowd giving it a lively atmosphere that could even rival Barcelona’s Camp Nou.
Activating a Hyper Strike will also trigger an exciting Katsin that is unique to each character. Mario will perform a bicycle kick that will ignite the ball, while Yoshi will swallow the ball, spit inside a huge egg and then bounce towards the target with reckless abandonment.
Nintendo also includes subtle animations for tackling choices, which are again unique to each character: Yoshi uses his tongue to hit other players, and Donkey Kong relies on his strong fists. It gives each character a much needed personality so they differ in many more ways than just appearance.
Even the settings menu looks great, with moving images appearing on the screen as you scroll through the home menu. With plain Nintendo polish it all looks very chic. If I liked, I would have liked a few more game settings so that I could change the preferences of the controls, as Nintendo does not currently offer any in-game customization in this regard.
The latest deal
Will you buy it?
If you are looking for a new multiplayer game:
Mario Strikers: Battle League shines most brightly during multiplayer mode, allowing you to build your own club and team up with friends to eliminate opponents. There is a lot of promise in the upcoming season with the inclusion of items in the division rankings and unlocks.
If you want a comprehensive single-player campaign:
Mario Strikers: There is a very stingy offer of single player mode in the Battle League – there is only one knockout cup competition, which can be completed very quickly. If you do not want to play multiplayer, it is difficult to justify the cost.
The latest thought
Mario Strikers: Battle League football offers a fantastic and simple Nintendo spin in football, thrilling gameplay and a high skill ceiling is probably appealing to a huge crowd. However, the lack of a flushed-out single player mode is a big disappointment, and so it’s only worth the expense if you’re willing to engage with online multiplayer.
How do we test
We play every game we review in the end, with the exception of Skyrim which is almost impossible to achieve 100% perfection. We will always warn the reader when we do not finish a game completely before reviewing.
Tested on Nintendo Switch
Played single player and multiplayer
Yes, Rosalina is available to act as one of the 10 characters
Yes, this game is only available on Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite and Switch OLED.