Mario Strikers: Battle League is an incredibly stylish game. Everything from the menus to the special shot animations are oozing with style. Having not played any previous Mario soccer game I imagined I’d be in for a hectic Mario Kart style take on soccer, so I bought the game without giving it much though. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a whole lot of fun with the game since its launch, and I’m not so sure I’ll spend a lot more time with it.
I was disappointed to find that there’s not a whole lot of single player content. You can play quick matches or enter into cup battles, but there’s no story mode, and no progression (besides unlocking a few pieces of equipment that change a character’s stats).
The gameplay itself feels solid. You’ll pass and shoot around the pitch, while avoiding enemy tackles and power ups while strategically deploying your own. You’re rewarded for well timed passes and shots allowing you to score a combos which increase your chance of scoring. If you collect a glowing orb that occasionally appears you’ll have an opportunity to execute a powerful shot that if timed correctly becomes unblockable and counts for two points.
The hyper strike shots are easy enough to pull off against the AI, but I’ve found them almost impossible to pull off online. They can be interrupted by a tackle, so you really need to be wide open to pull one off. This makes sense, otherwise it could make the game too easy if you could consistently get these shots off, and it makes it extra rewarding when you do pull one off (beyond the extra point).
That said, in general my online experience has been miserable. When playing solo I’ve been matched against teams of players who have a huge advantage over my AI controlled teammates. They’ll often constantly tackle everyone repeatedly (you can tackle players whether or not they have the ball) and there have been some matches where I feel like I’ve barely crossed mid field. In general when I’ve played online I either lose in an 8-0 embarrassment or I get the feeling I’m playing against a child who can’t quite grasp the controls and I win without breaking a sweat. There hasn’t been any middle ground, and I haven’t wanted to play online at all anymore.
Without an enjoyable online experience, I’m left with the hollow single player experience which definitely isn’t worth the $60 asking price. Maybe I’m just terrible at the game (seems likely), but I pictured myself having more fun with the game.
I might give the game another shot with some local multiplayer, but otherwise I don’t think I’ll be launching the game again.
I have been having a lot of fun with it, but yeah, it’s a problematic game in many regards, especially in that thin single-player content.