Mario Strikers: Battle League Review, Epic Showdowns Await!
Mario Strikers makes its long awaited return, hitting the field on Nintendo Switch in Mario Strikers Battle League.
The return of Mario Strikers franchise is here with Mario Strikers Battle League charging onto the Nintendo Switch. My 8-year-old son and I were able to play dozens of matches and explore all of the modes together. Some epic showdowns await, especially when it comes to the fun mayhem multiplayer matches provide. The game is very accessible to newcomers, while also offering pro-players a challenge.
Let's lace up our cleats explore all that Mario Strikers Battle League has to offer!
Mario Strikers Battle League Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Next Level Games and Nintendo EPD
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Mario's All-Star Strikers
The rules of engagement in Battle League are pretty straight forward as there are no rules. If you are new to the series, Strikers looks like soccer but it's quite different. Players use all their appendages, hands, feet, head and even rear end to score goals.
"If you are new to the series, Strikers looks like soccer but it's quite different."
To start off, you assemble a team of four of your favourite Nintendo characters. On the field you have your 4 runners, along with Boom Boom the goalkeeper, in a 5 vs. 5 match that includes precision shots, crushing tackles, and power up items that shift the on-field momentum. There isn't a referee in sight, so you are encouraged to play as aggressively as possible to earn the win.
Picking a balanced team
When it comes to picking a team, the first order of business is picking the leader of your squad. You can select your favorite character as the "Captain" from 10 characters: Bowser, Donkey Kong, Luigi, Mario, Peach, Rosalina, Toad, Wario, Waluigi, or Yoshi. Each have their own unique abilities, allowing you to assemble a crew of superstars from across the Mushroom Kingdom.
"Each have their own unique abilities, allowing you to assemble a crew of superstars from across the Mushroom Kingdom."
This is where some of the game's strategy gets interesting, depending on your play style and characters you choose, it can give you an edge with some minor drawbacks. For example, selecting a smaller player like Toad gives you a quick and nimble runner. The downside is your smaller size leaves you vulnerable to bigger characters like Bowser and Donkey Kong.
Power-ups that shake up matches
No Mario game would be complete without power-ups, and Mario Strikers Battle League is no different. At launch, there are 6 power-ups in total that can appear randomly on the field. These include classics like the Fireball which sets players ablaze or the Bob-omb which when touched explodes, taking out any nearby opponents. The six power-ups are Banana Peel, Bob-omb, Green Shell, Mushroom, Power Star and Red Shell. These power-ups are a blast to use and can change the outcome of a match if used effectively.
Hyper Strikes add to the fun and chaos
The hyper strike mechanic adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay, adding more drama and dazzle to the overall strikers gameplay. It's also different from 2007's Mario Strikers Charged, which only allowed one player on the team, the captain, to pull off power shots. Now, all members of your team (except the goalie) can pull off the ultra powerful shots. These strikes are the most powerful and accurate in the game, and if you pull one off and score, it's worth 2 points. Each character has their own unique hyper strike that comes complete with an anime-like video package.
"Each character has their own unique hyper strike that comes complete with an anime-like video package."
The animations are spectacular and definitely add to the excitement of the moment and can help rip a game wide open.
You can check out Mario and Yoshi's Hyper Strike below:
Overall, I really enjoyed the gameplay in Strikers. The core mechanics offer a fun time while encouraging plenty of chaos whether playing solo or multiplayer. The game has an incredibly high skill ceiling, but at the same time has a smart design that will appeal to casual players.
"The game has an incredibly high skill ceiling, but at the same time has a smart design that will appeal to casual players."
It’s not just about passing and shooting, there is deeper strategy involved. You can lob the ball, time a body check, block and of course use your power ups and items to tilt the field in your favour.
Goalie AI drops the ball
"Boom Boom" is the default goal keeper for every match and he moves automatically, controlled by the CPU. The goalie AI, often gives up puzzling goals; stops that could been easily made on both ends. Some of the strategies I tried to deploy weren’t always consistent in terms of results. I didn’t expect to always run up field and score a goal, but it’s a lot harder (or far too easy) running the same play and scoring or being denied, there is a real lack of consistency. Outside of the goalie mishaps the core gameplay is an absolute winner in my books.
Game Mode Breakdown
There are a couple of modes to keep things interesting, whether you're playing locally, or online taking on the world. Outside of that modes are pretty slim, there's no campaign available, but thankfully the on field action is excellent and will keep you coming back for more.
"The modes are pretty slim, there's no campaign available, but the on field action is excellent and will keep you coming back for more"
The closest thing to a single player experience is the "Cup Battles" mode. This is a bracket style tournament that slowly ratchets up the difficulty against CPU controlled opponents. You create your own team of All-Stars and compete in matches, earning coins as you go. These coins can be used to unlock new items for your team like new striker gear. As you win matches and climb the ranks, more difficult teams await, with better rewards as you move to the top of the Strikers world.
Strikers upgradable gear sets
The new gear system also lets you upgrade the skills of characters along with their visual style. Even if smaller characters like Toad are getting pushed around, you can upgrade their skills to standup against power characters. Along with skills, the cosmetic upgrades are interesting, giving characters a futuristic or more rugged look with the different options.
Check out the "gear gallery" below for a few of the different variants on each character:
Local and Online Multiplayer
Mario Strikers Battle League really shines when it comes to playing with friends. Even if you have a lot of people over, "local mode" supports a whopping 8 players on a single Nintendo Switch console. With up to eight players, four on each team, you are in for some chaotic competition at your next gathering.
"Even if you have a lot of people over, "local mode" supports a whopping 8 players on a single Nintendo Switch console."
The online mode allows you to take on other players from around the world. You can create or join tournaments, and there are ranked and unranked matches to choose from. Even more impressive is the inclusion of clubs, letting you and your friends join a "Strikers Club" to compete against teams in ranked playlists. You can claim seasonal rewards for reaching different divisions adding greatly to the replayability of the game.
Final Thoughts on Mario Strikers
Whether you’re looking for some friendly competition, or aiming to take down the toughest opponents online, Mario Strikers Battle League has something for players at all skill levels. It has extremely fun and addicting game that’s easy to pick up, but difficult to master. Strikers is a ton of fun to play, especially with friends and family, if you have the extra Joy Cons 8-player games are multiplayer mayhem. The experience is a mix of Super Smash Bros. meets arcade soccer, if you’re a fan of sports games or even just a casual gamer looking for something new to try, I highly recommend giving Mario Strikers Battle League a shot. With tons of replay value thanks to its local multiplayer and online play, you’ll be spending many hours trying to become the ultimate striker.
Mario Strikers Battle League PROS
+Fun and addictive core gameplay
+Hyper Strikers add variety to the play and help to open up the action
+Player cosmetics and attribute upgrades add a fun twist
+Local and online multiplayer is brilliant
Mario Strikers Battle League CONS
-No single player / story mode
-Fewer Strikers and Arenas than previous iterations of the game
-Goalie AI is maddeningly inconsistent
-Lack of extra modes hampers replayability
Overall Rating: 30/40 (75%)
A copy of the game was provided by Nintendo, for the purpose of this review.