Mario Strikers: Battle League Review
Hit the field in this chaotic take on soccer.
Mario Strikers: Battle League will be released on Nintendo Switch on June 10, 2022. We had the chance to try the game before it’s released.
What is Mario Strikers: Battle League?
Mario Strikers: Battle League is the latest title in the Mario Strikers series, which began with Super Mario Strikers on GameCube in 2005.
Mario Strikers: Battle League allows players to compete in a 5-on-5 soccer-inspired game called “Strike” that’s played in arenas with electric fences.
How do you play this game?
During each match, players will be challenged to score points by kicking the ball into the opposing team’s goal. Teams are composed of characters from the Super Mario video game franchise, such as Mario, Luigi, Peach, Rosalina, and Bowser, among others.
Unlike in a traditional soccer game, in a game of Strike, players can tackle their opponents to try to knock the ball away from them. They can also “tackle” their own teammates to give them a boost forward.
Players can collect item boxes that randomly appear on the field, which contain items that they can use to give themselves an advantage or mess with their opponents. As a couple of examples, the mushroom temporarily increases the player’s running speed, while the banana peel will knock someone down if they run into it.
Finally, during each match, glowing orbs will appear on the field that players can collect by running into them. Once a team collects a glowing orb, they’ll have a limited amount of time to take a “Hyper Strike” shot at the opponent’s goal. Hyper Strike shots are much more powerful than regular shots, and each character has their own Hyper Strike animation.
When players attempt a Hyper Strike shot, a short mini-game is triggered that will challenge them to press the “A” button at the correct time twice as a line moves across a meter. If the Hyper Strike shot scores, the player’s team will earn two points, instead of one.
Before the beginning of each match, players can choose the characters they want on their team, as well as the opponent’s team, if they’re not playing against other real people. Each character has different stats related to skills such as “Speed,” “Shooting,” and “Technique.”
When there are less real people playing the game than there are characters on the field, the game will automatically give players control over the character that currently has the ball. For instance, in a single-player game, the player will be able to control every “regular” character on their team, with the controls automatically switching to the player on their team that currently has the ball (not including the goalie). In other words, players will be able to pass the ball to themselves and will automatically take control of whoever has the ball in real time.
If players don’t like this setup, they can turn on manual controls, which will require them to manually switch control each time they want to control a different character, regardless of who currently has the ball.
While players can control the “regular” players on the field, the goalie duties are handled by Boom-Boom, who is generally controlled by the game. However, players can impact Boom-Boom’s actions in a couple of ways.
First, when a character takes a Hyper Strike shot, the defending player may temporarily receive control of Boom-Boom and will be able to quickly press a button in an attempt to block the shot.
In addition, when Boom-Boom has control of the ball, players can help decide which character he’ll pass it to.
Mario Strikers: Battle League features multiple gameplay modes. The Quick Battle mode allows players to play individual Strike matches that they can customize using a few different settings. For instance, while the default match length is four minutes, players can choose from three-minute, five-minute, and 10-minute durations instead. Players can also set the difficulty of the game’s computer-controlled opponents in these Quick Battle matches.
The Quick Battle mode supports single-player gameplay against computer-controlled opponents, and players can also compete with and against other real players in the same room and/or online. When playing a match through local multiplayer (that is, with other people in the same room), up to eight people can play the game on the same Switch system.
Next, the Cup Battles mode allows up to four players in the same room to compete against teams of computer-controlled opponents in a series of double elimination tournaments. Each tournament will see players face off against a group of teams that focus on a different specialty, such as “shooting” or “technique.”
Finally, players can participate in online matches in the game’s “Strikers Club” mode. This mode allows players to create Clubs that up to 20 real players can join. Clubs will be able to compete against one another to earn points that affect their rankings.
A Club’s owner will also be able to customize their Club’s uniform and stadium. During each match (even matches that take place outside of the Strikers Club mode), the stadium will be split in half vertically across the center of the field so that the two sides of the stadium will represent the two competing teams.
As players complete matches, they’ll earn coins that they can use to purchase gear items that will affect the stats of the game’s playable characters.
Unfortunately, rather than providing only positive changes, gear items will positively affect one stat while negatively impacting another. As an example, the “Chain Helmet” will increase Mario’s passing skill by two points while also decreasing his speed by two points. Players will need to decide which gear items they want to equip based on the stats that will be affected. Players can also choose to not use gear items at all. We’re not a fan of this “give and take” setup, and wish players could activate some gear items that only trigger positive changes.
Is this game fun to play?
Yes, but only to a point. Mario Strikers: Battle League isn’t a casual sports game. The game’s controls are complicated and take a while to get used to. The game gives players the option of completing a lengthy series of tutorials that will introduce them to the game’s basic controls and more advanced techniques, such as free passes and team tackles, but even when completing these tutorials, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
At the same time, it’s worth pointing out that players don’t have to employ the game’s “advanced techniques” during matches if they don’t want to. This means players don’t have to memorize all of the controls in order to play the game and even win matches. This is especially helpful when introducing the game to new players. That is, an experienced player could teach new players the game’s basic controls so they don’t have to complete the game’s tutorials themselves.
All of that being said, we can see the game’s complicated controls being a problem for younger players and those without much video game experience in general. Mario Strikers: Battle League is rated E10+ for Everyone 10+ by the ESRB, and this feels like a fair rating, as the game may be too complicated and potentially frustrating for younger players (plus, the game’s tutorials feature lots of text to read, so younger players may have trouble following along).
Elsewhere, it’s easy to lose track of who you’re controlling during a game. On multiple occasions, we found ourselves looking at one character only to realize a moment later that we were actually controlling someone else. The game will display a large number over the head of every character that’s currently controlled by a human player, but this doesn’t prevent this issue from happening.
Overall, we’ve had some fun playing Mario Strikers: Battle League, but we’ve also run into some frustrating moments (for instance, the tournament that features teams who focus on “passing” was particularly challenging). While there’s fun to be had here, the game likely won’t appeal to everyone.
Is there anything else parents need to know about this game?
Parents should know that when players compete in online matches, they may be matched up with opponents who have a higher skill level, which can result in a frustrating experience, especially if players hate losing. This may give parents the chance to talk to their kids about losing and winning with humility.
In addition, parents should know that players need a Nintendo Switch Online membership in order to play online.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that if players are participating in a double elimination tournament and quit their current match, it will count as a loss for their team. If players need to quit playing the game in the middle of a match (for instance, if they only had a few minutes of free time to play the game), they can avoid taking the loss by pausing their game and putting their Switch to sleep until they can resume their match later on.
If players do decide to quit their match in the middle of a tournament, they don’t have to continue the same tournament when they come back to the game. That is, players can restart tournaments from the beginning if they’d like to have a fresh start.
What’s the final verdict?
We’re torn when it comes to forming a final opinion about Mario Strikers: Battle League. We appreciate what the game was designed to be, and we’ve had some fun while playing. However, the game is sometimes frustrating and it may be too chaotic for players who enjoy more casual experiences.
Ultimately, if you have the opportunity to try Mario Strikers: Battle League before purchasing the full game, we recommend doing so in order to ensure it's a game your family will enjoy.
Mario Strikers: Battle League will be released on Nintendo Switch on June 10, 2022 for $59.99. The game is rated E10+ for Everyone 10+ by the ESRB.
Disclosure: SuperParent received a code for Mario Strikers: Battle League for coverage purposes.