REVIEW: ‘Mario Strikers: Battle League’ is Fun, But Barebones (Switch)

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Mario Strikers Battle League - But Why Tho

Mario Strikers: Battle League is the long-awaited return of the Mario Strikers franchise, with the last game being released back in 2007 for the Wii. Developed by Next Level Games and published by Nintendo, Mario Strikers: Battle League is available now for the Nintendo Switch.

Mario Strikers: Battle League is, at its core, a game about playing soccer. It’s sort of like the popular FIFA series if you replaced lifelike graphics with top-notch animation and realistic gameplay with over-the-top special moves and items. That is to say, it’s really nothing like FIFA except for the fact that both games involve some form of soccer being played. You can choose from several popular Mario characters (more on that later) and either play by yourself or team up with friends for some excellent 4-on-4 action. The game is easy to learn too, which allows players of all ages to get in on the action. High-level players also aren’t left out, as online play can be quite challenging and competitive.

At launch, the characters available to play in Mario Strikers: Battle League are Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Peach, Yoshi, Toad, Rosalina, Wario, and Waluigi. If I’m being honest, since Mario Strikers: Charged back in 2007 had 12 playable characters and 10 sidekick teammates to choose from, it’s an extremely disappointing roster. Nintendo has announced that more characters are on the way via free updates, but there is no known timetable for when those might come. Each character has their own unique stats and skills, which makes filling out your team a really strategic endeavor, but the limited choice of characters means the optimal strategy will be figured out pretty soon and the “meta” will be extremely limited.

In addition to the lack of characters, the absence of a story mode is quite disappointing. A solid single-player campaign could help make up for the lack of characters by giving the ones that do appear some depth, but sadly we don’t get that. The game only comes with a cup battle mode that allows players on a local console, up to four players total, to take on computer opponents in six different tournament-style cups. Once you beat all six cups, there is an unlockable galactic mode that makes the cups more challenging. You also unlock the Bushido gear, which provides a slightly higher bonus than the gear options available at the start.

Speaking of gear, let’s talk about the only real unlockables in the game so far. Each character has four slots for gear, with each slot having five different items available for purchase with the coins earned through playing matches. The problem is that every character has the exact same options when it comes to upgradeable gear. Sure, each gear type looks different depending on the character, but the stat boosts are all the same and provide only a minimal strategic challenge for players looking to craft the best player lineup possible. The Bushido gear unlocked through the cup battle mode is currently the only gear that is not available for purchase from the start, and it would be nice to see other forms of unlockable items available in the future.

Other than the cup battle mode, the only other gameplay options are quick battles and Strikers Club. Quick battles are just one-off games, perfect for anyone looking to get a game in but don’t have the time to commit to a full cup. Strikers Club mode allows players to team up online and form a club where each player can earn points for their club and rise up the online division rankings. It’s very similar to the online divisions in the FIFA games, and it’s a neat way for friends to team up and help their club reach the very top. The rewards are minimal though, with coins and tokens being awarded that can help buy upgrades for individual players or for the club as a whole. I’d like to see more options here, but the baseline mode is still quite enjoyable.

Mario Strikers: Battle League may be barebones, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. More characters, customization options, and game modes could really help improve the game, but the package delivered on release still holds incredible replay value. It’s a game worth coming back to over and over again, whether with friends or by yourself. Over-the-top action and the stylized Mario look make Mario Strikers: Battle League one of the most fun sports game experiences, I just hope more is added soon so it doesn’t get stale after a few months.

Mario Strikers: Battle League is out now on Nintendo Switch


Mario Strikers: Battle League
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Mario Strikers: Battle League may be barebones, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. More characters, customization options, and game modes could really help improve the game, but the package delivered on release still holds incredible replay value. It’s a game worth coming back to over and over again, whether with friends or by yourself. Over-the-top action and the stylized Mario look make Mario Strikers: Battle League one of the most fun sports game experiences, I just hope more is added soon so it doesn’t get stale after a few months.