Battle League “, the plumber returns to football after fifteen years of stopping the game

If the general public has had the opportunity to see Mario handle golf clubs and other tennis rackets at a steady pace since the 1980s, it was fifteen years ago he had put the frying pans on for a title dedicated solely to football. Not unforgettable, Mario Smash football (GameCube, 2005) and Mario Strikers Charged Football (Wii, 2007) nevertheless managed in his time to shake up the harmless universe of the mushroom kingdom, more accustomed to good-natured cartoon adventures than to dirty tackles, that rubbish and flashy target parties.

Rare fact: Although this series is stamped Nintendo, it is historically entrusted to Western subcontractors. In this case, to the Canadians of Next Level Games, also responsible for the friendly series of Luigi’s mansionand officially became a Nintendo subsidiary in 2021. For all these reasons, the January announcement of this new one Mario Strikers: Battle League for the Switch was met with genuine curiosity.

Cara-pas and mushrooms

We will not offend you by reminding you of the football rules, especially as they are completely misleading in Mario Strikers: Battle League. Two teams of four players (as well as a goalkeeper operated by the console) compete on a small court closer to futsal than real football. Everything is good for shaking the nets, especially fiercely offensive opponents. However, be careful if the one you throw does not carry the ball, an object Mario Kart (shell, sponge, etc.) will be made available to your opponents as compensation. And if the players in previous matches were very careful to mark the opposing team captain, the only one who is able to perform an unstoppable “hyperstrike”, everyone now has the power, provided they have assembled an orb special, which appears from time to time to another on the lawn.

Although a hyperstrike does not wipe out the keeper, it usually leaves the opposite rows completely messed up.

The result is therefore a merry mess that is more of a rat race than gamebuilding, but after all, that’s why we play a “Mario”. Especially since the sensations are there. They are served by a colorful artistic direction, as in the strong moments when the characters take poses Olive and Tom redraw them with large black brushstrokes and saturated colors. It should be noted that these twists and turns do not prevent the title from showing a certain technicality, with manipulations with demanding timing. Nevertheless, Nintendo commits, it also knows how to stay available.

Too stingy in content

If a yellow card is to be given for this Mario Strikers, it is the poverty of the content reserved for “solo” players. A few championships against the computer, a rather uninviting wardrobe of equipment to expand, ten playable characters, terrain with only cosmetic differences … it’s bad, especially for a cartridge offered at full price, even compared to other sports games from Nintendo universe.

Mario, Luigi, Peach, Harmony, Toad, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Wario and Waluigi are the only characters available at launch.  More should be added through updates.

The publisher, in fact, continues its ugly habit of delivering its products in set form: as with the latest Mario Tennis and Mario Golf, Nintendo prefers from now on to provide restrained games, of which it only unlocks all content drop by drop, to artificially hold the players’ attention. The online mode remains: In “Club Strikers” mode, you are invited to play as a single player in a club. It is up to the teammates to vote for the team leader, who can determine the decoration of the stadium, the color of the jersey and the philosophy of the game.

We may be picky, but what alternative when we just want to play football with friends and take ourselves less seriously than with Fifa ? To tell the truth, we see only one: Rocket League, a free car football game that remains the best reference for fun football games seven years after its release. To succeed in redirecting followers, this version of Mario football should no doubt have focused on local content rather than online gaming. Perhaps it will within a year if future updates enrich the formula sufficiently; until then, the ball is on Nintendo’s court.

Pixels review:

We liked:

  • Mario’s universe, which is unleashed;
  • bags of fluorescent special movements;
  • the feeling of progress, despite the chaos.

We liked less:

  • the lack of grades and adaptation at launch;
  • the absence of mini-games, alternative modes, statistics … A little of each actually;
  • The fact that after a while we can not zap the fluorescent special movements of bags.

It’s more for you if:

  • you like football …;
  • … But not too much anyway (otherwise you would play Fifa).

It is not for you if:

  • you do not like football at all;
  • you really like football (otherwise you would play football).

Pixels note:

The important thing is the 3 points (out of 5).

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