Mario Strikers: Battle League Review

Nintendo has been making Mario Sports games for decades, some of which are hugely popular. Mario Tennis on the Nintendo 64 was released to widespread critical acclaim, as was Mario Golf. For various reasons, the response to Mario Sports games has been lukewarm in recent years, with the recent release of Mario Striker : Battle League being another example of Mario Sports games failing to live up to the high standards set by their predecessors.

Mario Strikers: Battle League is Nintendo’s third attempt at a Mario soccer game, following Super Mario Strikers for the GameCube and Mario Strikers Charged for the Wii. Mario Strikers: Battle League brings the series to the Nintendo Switch, and while the core gameplay is fun, there isn’t enough content to keep fans engaged with the game for long.

Mario Strikers: Battle League features 10 characters from the Super Mario series and lets them compete on the soccer field. Like other Mario sports games, football in the Mushroom Kingdom version isn’t as simple as real-world sports. Mario Strikers characters can use items to take out opponents like Mario Kart, and they can also unleash powerful Hyper Strike shots that come with exaggerated animations and are a near-guaranteed target worth two points.

mario  strikers  battle  league  dlc  characters Mario Strikers: Any given match in Battle League has two four-player teams, although the small number of playable characters means that both teams will usually have some characters in common. Mario Strikers: Battle League’s small roster is pretty disappointing, but it should be noted that there are actually more playable characters in this game than in previous entries. That’s still not enough, but this is one area where Mario Strikers: Battle League improves on its predecessors.

On the small roster side, the core gameplay of Mario Strikers: Battle League is fun. The controls are easy to understand, and if anyone gets stuck, there are plenty of helpful tutorials to guide them. For those who take the time to master its mechanics, there’s a ton of skill and strategy involved in the game, but it’s never overwhelming.

Mario Strikers: Battle League is even more fun when played with a group of friends, and players have many multiplayer options to choose from. Impressively, Mario Strikers: Battle League supports up to eight players on a single console, making it another solid addition to the Switch’s lineup of local multiplayer and party games. Of course, it also supports online multiplayer, where two players on one console can team up against other players online.

Mario-Strikers-Battle-League-Online-Network-Test-First-Kick-Announced-Switch As with most Nintendo Switch games, mileage will vary when it comes to Mario Strikers: Battle League’s online multiplayer. Matching is often slow when using a wireless connection, but things improve dramatically when using a wired Switch. The downside is that the standard Switch console doesn’t have an easy way for players to connect directly to the internet, so only those with a Switch OLED console or a Switch Ethernet adapter will be able to take full advantage of the game’s online multiplayer.

Mario Strikers: Battle League players can view the Tournament Cup as they battle against friends and online players. Essentially the career mode equivalent of the game, the Mario Strikers: Battle League cups task players with winning matches against AI-controlled teams, with different cups offering players different playstyles. These tournaments can be played cooperatively, which is a nice touch, and while the AI rarely poses as much of a challenge as a real player, matches can still be exciting, especially toward the end of any given tournament.

Whenever starting a new tournament or match, players can choose which Mario Strikers: Battle League stadium they want to play in. All five stadiums in Mario Strikers: Battle League look great, and players can even customize their appearance if desired. The problem is that the stadium is completely irrelevant during the game. The camera maintains a top-down view, almost entirely in focus on the pitch, meaning the stadium’s impressively detailed decoration cannot be seen. The only time players actually get a good look at the stadium is during replays, but most people will probably skip those. It would have been tricky to get the stadiums right while keeping the focus on the action, but for now, they’re a bit of a waste.

mario-strikers-battle-league-unlockables-guide-bushido-gear-mario While playing tournaments and other game modes in Mario Strikers: Battle League, players can earn coins which can then be used to purchase gear. Mario Strikers: Battle League’s equipment system allows players to equip various members of their squad with new helmets, gloves, armor, and boots to tweak their stats. Those who really want to dig in and micromanage their characters might have fun with it, but can safely ignore it without putting themselves at any major disadvantage.

Aside from earning coins to buy new gear, Mario Strikers: Battle League doesn’t progress much, so it’s hard to see how the game will keep players engaged long-term. The single-player experience is especially lacking, as there are only a handful of tournament cups, and there’s nothing worth unlocking other than harder difficulties. Playing Mario Strikers: Battle League’s soccer games is actually pretty fun, especially with a group of friends, but the lack of worthwhile progression or unlockable content severely hurts its longevity.

Those hungry for a new Mario Strikers game will likely get a lot of playtime from Mario Strikers: Battle League, and despite its general lack of content, those in need of more meat will likely leave disappointed. The core gameplay is great, but beyond that, the game doesn’t have much to offer.

Mario Strikers: Battle League is out now, exclusively for Nintendo Switch.

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