Mario Smash Football (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 24.11.2005

Review for Mario Smash Football on GameCube

The Mario Sports series has so far been a resounding success, with the versions of tennis and golf so far ruling the roost thanks to Camelot's fine work. But with even more versions due out in the six months, namely Square Enix's Mario Basket 3x3 and Namco's Mario Superstar Baseball, is there any need for this latest game, Mario Smash Football? Are the standards about to drop?

As with most sport-related games, there are no attempts at crafting a storyline, and thankfully Nintendo and Next Level Games have not tried to squeeze anything into Smash Football. Therefore, all that we are given in terms of reasoning for the game is a brand new tournament full of Grudge Matches between the various inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond. Wario, Waluigi, Donkey Kong and Bowser join the likes of Peach, Daisy, Luigi and Mario on the sports field, ready to give the crowd the best show ever!

Just as we have seen in the absolutely gorgeous Mario Tennis and Golf, Mario Smash Football starts off with a spectacular video sequence featuring all of the characters dashing around football pitches, sliding, dodging tackles, launching weapons and taking wild shots at goal. However, unfortunately that proves to be the peak in visual prowess. Whilst the character models are solid enough and appear to be well animated, unfortunately the rest of the game is somewhat of a letdown. The stadia are bland with not much character to them at all and the crowd is just little cardboard cutouts. Now, whilst other football games tend to use this same technique, there is not as much going on during these matches do you would think that the power of the GameCube could have been used to a greater extent. Thankfully when the action heats up, these niggles will prove to be inconsequential.

Screenshot for Mario Smash Football on GameCube

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the audio angle, which simply becomes tedious and downright annoying after being subjected to it for a lengthy period of time. None of the tunes used within the game will become lodged in your head, unless you have the misfortune of being one of those people who cannot help but get bad music looping in your mind. As for the speech, the problem here is the one that arises in most Mario games. Will Nintendo ever learn how irritating high-pitched voices? Probably not, so we will basically have to suffer through the torture with each new product. The only voices that are actually amusing are those of Wario and Waluigi, although they too grow tiresome over time. Hey, you cannot have everything I suppose...

Playing the actual game is not exactly rocket science either. Yet this turns out the be the main draw of Smash Football as it means any gamer can easily step up to the mantle, grab a GameCube controller and be ripping the net constantly within a few tries. However, mastering the seemingly basic control system takes much longer and gives a greater sense of achievement when truly conquered. As the saying goes 'watch out for the quiet ones'; well, in this case it is more 'watch out for the deceptively simple ones'. Mario Smash Football looks to be a mild-mannered 'soccer' romp with all your favourite Nintendo characters. The truth, though, could not be farther from that assumption!

Screenshot for Mario Smash Football on GameCube

You choose one of the team captains, with the remaining members of your five-a-side group consisting of identikit members that do not have the ability to pull off certain special manoeuvres. There may be no specific statistics to help you make your choice of player, but as with most Mario games in all likelihood you will already have a favourite character to select by default. This really is no Pro Evolution Soccer or FIFA, by any means, so please dispel any such thoughts from your head right away or else this will immediately be disappointing. Instead think back to the whimsical Sega Soccer Slam (also by Next Level Games as chance would have it) or even EA BIG's FIFA Street. Smash Football is all about rapid, end-to-end craziness, with barely any chance to catch your breath.

Flick the ball through to a player running up-field, dive for the header and BAM, it is a spectacular goal. In the same breath, speedy one-two passing and dodging around your opponents, before unleashing a powerhouse of a shot that leaves the goal-keeper stunned beyond belief ready for a simple follow-up tap-in from a straggling attacker works just as well. An air of caution is required throughout, nevertheless, as you can either be caught on the counter-attack very easily or mowed down by one of many weapons gained during the match itself. Keep a wary eye out for freezing blue shells, large Bob-ombs or banana skins, because just as in previous Mario melee games the power-ups take precedence at key moments of play. Just when you think that you are clean through, along comes a gigantic Chain Chomp or a pitch invasion from King Koopa himself, Bowser. Then you will seriously know the meaning of the word 'pressure'.

Screenshot for Mario Smash Football on GameCube

Everything is nail-biting, from start to finish, from re-start to the finish once more. Power-up items are gained mainly from when the opposing team's members have attacked your players that were nowhere near the ball. You can also obtain them randomly by performing powerful shots. Should your captain get the chance to charge his shot for long enough, he / she / it will rise into the air and you must stop a gauge twice in the correct place to release a Super Strike. Normal players just let off a harder shot than usual, but Mario and company, if done perfectly, will score almost every time – even knocking the ‘keeper back into the net, bagging you two goals instead of the normal one. There is enough here to satisfy most gamers’ crazy fun-factor requirements, and in multiplayer it becomes an absolute riot.

One of the main questions that rears its ugly head with this type of title, though, is will your interest be maintained sufficiently long enough to warrant the £29.99 you will likely have forked out for this latest release. Mario Smash Football is to some extent an essential purchase for GameCube owners. That is if you have three friends that can pop over on a regular basis to join in the crazy football action. This suddenly turns into an experience that is only bettered by Mario Kart for sheer fun and wacky shenanigans. However, the magic can kind of wear off a little too quickly in the batch of solo modes available for picking. Playing against the computer can be terribly frustrating, as there is definitely an automatic handicap somewhere in there. If you find yourself winning by a significant margin early on in a match, you can be SURE that your opponents will amazingly raise their level…every single time. A double-edged sword is what Smash Football is…

Screenshot for Mario Smash Football on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Mario Smash Football (or Super Mario Strikers if you are not from PAL territories) is nowhere near the class of Pro Evolution Soccer. However, as a nice alternative to serious football you could do far worse, especially considering the fun you can have in multiplayer!

Also known as

Super Mario Strikers

Developer

Next Gen

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (11 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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