The review of Mario Strikers: Battle League Football, the return of football according to Nintendo.
The review of Mario Strikers: Battle League Football, the new chapter of football played according to Nintendo, is ready to let us take the field on Nintendo Switch in a challenge to the last final blow, between faultless contrasts and a decidedly adrenaline-pumping gameplay. Will the formula be renewed enough to adapt to the new Nintendo console, now more than ever designed for the multiplayer gameplay of which this new title could become a must?
But let’s start from the basics: as for all Nintendo multiplayer titles, Mario Strikers: Battle League Football is part of those typical games of the brand that show a very low entry threshold in terms of difficulty, but once you learn the mechanics it allows you to create complex and dynamic games. We have seen it especially with Super Smash Bros, a shining example of this thing, and to all intents and purposes Mario Strikers behaves more or less the same way.
As often happens, however, Nintendo to highlight the sides of the title has unfortunately overlooked a couple of things that perhaps would have made the game a real must of the genre, and which instead remains in that fantastic multiplayer limbo that will take at least a year before having the right contents to cover all the shortcomings.
A question of numbers
Let’s start with a really important problem for the game: the character roster. Mario Strikers: Battle League Football “boasts” 10 characters, very few for a 5vs5 where you will already have 10 players on the field. This is why the title includes the inclusion of duplicates, even in the same team: it is not strange therefore to think of a team made up of 1 Super Mario and 3 Yoshi (plus the goalkeeper, always the same). If the gameplay is interesting in tactical terms, in the end having always the same characters on the field in a game that focuses heavily on speed becomes redundant in the long run.
The lack of variety in the characters also makes the games very similar to each other: each character – we will see it well later – has its own special attack that in addition to seeing a unique and fantastic shot, will also impose effects on the characters in the game. If the thing may be interesting on paper, in practice it becomes instead something already seen, a repetition of similar actions and special attacks that tire in the long run.
The other modes also show a lack of content: the cups are similar to each other, making the single player gameplay redundant in the long run (it will increase the difficulty, and not so much) and the character customization system does not offer many variations to the gameplay itself. There is talk of many things that could be implemented in the future, Mario Kart and Mario Golf are an example, but always thinking that a game should come out “incomplete” and then be expanded at a later time could discourage the most doubters.
But in all of this, how does Mario Strikers: Battle League Football work? Simply, the game sees 5 characters compete with 5 others in a football match where everything is valid. There are no fouls, you can throw enemies on electrified walls and every shot can become decisive, especially if special (since it is worth double).
The game keys are easy to learn, loading the tackle allows you to intercept players and the automatic passing system works very well. Obviously there are ways to make manual passes, but the game remains lacking in dribbling , given that it is not easy to dodge the characters, thanks to the small field. For the shot, it is very easy to direct it to effect so as to surprise the goalkeeper, but the lack of precise control of the last defender makes that phase quite an end in itself.
Fortunately, the special shots make everything a little more spicy: once you have the energy that will allow you to make this shot, only a loaded kick will allow you to unlock the loading bar. If you take the two colored points with precision – with a system definitely inspired by the past – you can make this shot that only at maximum precision will allow you to enter without any problem, otherwise it can be saved with a small QTE of the goalkeeper.
The special shots, however, will not only be powerful broadsides ready to enter the goal, but as can also be seen on similar games such as Windjammers, it will have effects on the other characters: here then Peach will make the goalkeeper fall in love with the ball, pushing it inside the net. , while others will leave grooves in the field.
Champions’ League or Amateur Cup?
Mario Strikers: Battle League Football is the prime example of how in the end the classic never gets bored: playing on the pitch of the new football chapter of Mario and his companions is fun, the multiplayer matches online and locally are well done and it is hilarious to take slide from miles away (even during super shots, which makes the game capable of surprising with unexpected results). Unfortunately, however, the weight given to some things, such as the number of contents, transforms this game into a sort of work in progress: there are really many characters missing in the roster of players, and perhaps putting another ten could have differentiated the games as much as enough to prolong its longevity.
This game then becomes a sign of a truly contrasting duplicity: if on the one hand the aesthetics show as always an impeccable quality, with really well-made stadiums and graphics for the super shots on the edge between comics and video games, on the other hand the scarcity of single player content makes the game ultimately fun in company, not too long-lived alone. Another example concerns the depth of the game: every action you do (shooting, passing, tackling) will even have a sort of rhythmic timing which, if respected, will allow you to have a perfect action. All this, however, will clash with the goalkeeper, a variable not managed by the player who will not give the right freedom of action.
We have already compared Mario Strikers: Battle League Football to other Nintendo titles, but where Super Smash Bros offered a series of content already tested, this new football chapter has instead preferred to leave a well-functioning skeleton in favor of a growing community: perhaps just to listen fans, the company has preferred to launch a game that will surely have to receive useful updates to expand everything.