A sequel to the original Mario Smash Football on the Gamecube, Mario Strikers Charged Football brings Mario to the Wii for the first time (in Europe), sporting improvements such as a bigger roster, more stadiums, special moves and an online component. Mario Strikers proves to be a great game that will keep you coming back for more.
As well as the usually exhibition type matches and tutorials, Mario Strikers offers up some interesting options for single player gamers. The main single player event is the ‘Road to the Strikers Cup’ mode, which basically sees you playing through three different tournaments to earn the Fire, Chrystal and Striker trophies. The tournaments are split in to the play-offs, elimination and final rounds culminating in a final showdown against who over the current champion is. When you are finished here you can choose to play through a series of challenges which range from not allowing your opponent to score in a game or coming back from a large deficit, the challenges are varied which will make you want to finish them all.
For those who want to get a bit more out of the game a plethora of unlockables have been stashed away, and to unlock them you need to complete challenges, beat the tournaments and meet other certain requirements. Doing so will grant you access to new stadiums, new characters and cheats that you can use in exhibition. These cheats are pretty fun to use, giving you the ability to remove or change aspects of the match, which helps makes the exhibition matches more fun when you are looking to mix things up a bit.
The matches themselves are a blast to play, albeit a little to chaotic at times. You play as your selected captain along with his or her cronies against another team in a game of five a side football. This isn’t a sim though, and all rules have been thrown out of the window. Along side the normal fundamentals of football such as tackling, shooting and passing each character has some tricks up their sleeves to tip the game in their favour.
The biggest of which is the ‘mega- strike’ a special attack that can be used by the captain of each team to send multiple balls hurtling at the goalie at the same time. To activate this attack the captain must be in control of the ball and you then need to hold the B button, after a brief charging period a power meter will appear on the screen with a cursor moving from side to side, you need to hit A in two different zones to determine the amount of balls unleashed, as well as the speed they go. The feature is a bit over-powered but to counter act that the game makes it menacingly difficult to pull off, while setting up you are vulnerable to being attacked by members of the other team, cancelling out the process and risking a counter attack. This ensures that you need to find a decent amount of space and time it right to pull it off. This move can also be used against you however, if this happens you will be sent in to a goal keeping mini-game, a set of gloves appear on the screen and balls will head towards you. To stop them you need to point the Wiimote at the ball and press A to deflect the ball, being able to use the motion sensing for this makes it more interactive and it is a shame that the Wiimote was not use more extensively in the game.
You cannot have a Mario game without power up and there are here as well charging up your shots or getting attacked while not holding the ball will grant to access to special powers that can be used including making yourself invincible, launching different colour shells, setting down bananas, you know standard Mario fare. As well as these each captain has there own special power, such as Mario growing in size, Yoshi turning in to a giant egg or Wario emitting gas to confuse enemies. These all add spice to the matches, and make it intense knowing that any minute you could be blown up, knocked down or trampled on.
The playable roster consists of the usual Mario posse, such as Mario, Bowser and Donkey Kong and as you progress through the game you will be able to unlock hidden characters including Diddy Kong and Baby Bowser. Each captain has their own strengths and weakness and their own special attack. Each of these characters can be picked as captain but you will need to select some people to fill up your team, you can pick from some of the well known underlings from the Mario universe allowing you to pick people like Toad, Shy guy and Dry Bones and assign them positions on the pitch.
As for stadiums there is a nice, varied selection to choose from locales like deserts, outer space and volcanoes. All of the stadiums are interactive and have their own environmental hazards. In the desert Thwomp will crash down on you, in the volcano lava pools will open out of nowhere and there are loads of other dangers like thunder and tornadoes and they all make the same more fun and chaotic.
For the first time in the UK, Mario Strikers Charged Football allows you to take the fight to anybody in the world over the Nintendo WiFi connection, allowing you to playing in single matches and ‘best of’ battles. Allowing you to find a friend or play a random whenever you please. For the Wii’s first attempt at online, the game gives you a very good offering. All of the matches that I played ran smoothly and matches can be found quickly. When you win a match you are given points that add towards you overall ranking and help move you up on the leader boards. Voice chat would have been nice but the online game remains solid.
Mario Strikers looks very good, there are some great animations for the players and the stadiums are nicely detailed, the mega-strike moves awesome and there are some nice little touches to the game, such as your characters appearance being affect by what is going on; if you are playing in mud dirt will appear on the characters clothes, if you go throw fire you will see scorch marks on the victim. It is defiantly one of the better looking Wii games at the moment and the sound isn’t too shabby either, all of the quirkiness of the Mario franchise the delightfully cheesy music makes you smile and there are some pretty good voicing for the cast, and although the music is re used a bit to much you can help but enjoy it.
Not to say that the game doesn’t have its flaws. Due to the nature of the game it can get repetitive when playing for long periods of time, if you don’t have online the single player is short and some variation in game modes would be gratefully received but when you get past these flaws then the game is a really good experience and a great introduction to the online gaming aspect of the Wii.
Originally Written By: Liam Kenna