Since its GameCube premiere in 2005, Mario Strikers has been a favorite of many Mario Sports fans, thanks in large part to its non-stop action. Its successful formula was enhanced in Mario Strikers Charged two years later on Wii. And then…nothing. It’s now been 15 years since the last time we had Mario and his friends on the pitch for a friendly (or not-so-friendly) game of football. My demo session left me intrigued by the updates and excited to try it out myself, but in the back of my head I had the looming question: Does Mario Strikers Battle League play too much? safely ?
I recently watched 45 minutes of Mario Strikers Battle League ahead of release next month, played by members of the Nintendo Treehouse. The session showed us two offline modes: Quick Battles and Cup Battles. The latter offers several double elimination tournaments of increasing difficulty. Mario Strikers Battle League will also support up to 8-player offline vs. console and four-player co-op in offline cup battles.
Mario Strikers Battle League Preview
For those wondering what it offers beyond offline content, we also got to check out the Striker club mode online. Club Strikers is an online Battle Leagues mode where players can create or join soccer clubs and compete against others over the seasons to earn rewards and customizations. Matches played online will earn or lose your club points and place you in different tiers which will determine your prizes at the end of each season.
Battle League always uses one character to assume the role of captain, showcasing their unique styles at the start and end of matches. Whereas you could only field one main character as captain in previous Mario Strikers entries – and the rest of the team would be made up of Toads, Birdos, Koopas, etc. – this time you select your team from all the remaining characters. in the lineup as you see fit, minus the goalkeeper.
The roster during our preview only included ten characters, most of whom expect everyone to expect. It was shocking that it seemed to have a smaller roster for a team game where you use four characters, especially compared to other Mario sports games on Switch. Mario Tennis Aces and Mario Golf: Super Rush launched with 16 characters. Granted, it’s arguably more difficult to balance a game and its characters when more than one of them are on the field at the same time, but Strikers felt like it was playing it safe. Fortunately, tennis and golf have a strong track record of adding new characters post-launch, so let’s hope Mario Strikers Battle League follows suit.
I chose Waluigi as captain for my demo, with Peach, Rosalina, and Wario filling the remaining slots. Each character has a unique special called Hyper Strike that matches their personality. Waluigi twirls with her signature rose, and her signature shot spawns thorns that prevent others from passing, while Rosalina tosses the ball around a planet before it returns covered in ice, freezing everything in its path. Hyper Strike goals can sometimes decide a game as they have the potential to be an unblockable two point goal. However, teams will fight for hyper strike balls that will appear throughout the match to enable those Hyper Strike shots. This power-up lasts for a short time or until the player attempts a Hyper Strike, but opponents can end the power-up prematurely by interrupting the shot with a well-timed tackle.
Speaking of tackling opponents, just like in previous episodes, tackling players who don’t have the ball will give that team a free item to use and potentially gain a significant advantage. Objects include green and red shells, banana peels, bob-ombs, stars, and more. And don’t worry if your opponent refuses to tackle your team unless they have the ball, as random objects will still spawn on the pitch regularly throughout the game. . If you’ve played Mario Kart or any other Mario sports game, you can imagine how powerful an item can be at the right time to overthrow a match.
Meanwhile, Mario Strikers Battle League seems to have improved its customization options. Besides choosing the pattern or colors of your jersey or kit, you can also equip stat boost gear to improve your character’s stats. Gear sets like the Muscle Set increase your strength at the expense of shooting, while equipping the Full Gun Set can help turn even the worst shooters into an ace scorer.
Moreover, you can customize your stadium to your liking. There are several themes for your stadium, pitch and other devices. Depending on your preference, the fences and goalposts we see in football change from boring goalposts to pipes, blocks, and other Mario-themed items. I could see five themes in the preview, Mushroom Hill, Jungle Retreat, Royal Castle, Lava Castle, and a Spooky Mansion theme which, as you’d expect, is heavily inspired by Luigi’s Mansion. Each of them also has several variants to unlock and customize to help you differentiate your stadium theme from that of your opponents. The coolest part is that when you take on an opponent, your stadium merges with theirs, so both teams can show off their skills.
While I couldn’t play Mario Strikers Battle League myself, the preview was enough to know what to expect when it launched. I’m excited about the opportunity to build my dream team of Mario characters and challenge others around the world. And while Nintendo didn’t confirm anything specific, they did mention that there are plans for additional content down the line. Hopefully, we’ll see more popular characters join the roster after it launches for the Switch on June 10, along with their corresponding customization options.