Mario Strikers: Battle League (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 15.06.2022 4

Review for Mario Strikers: Battle League on Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch has had absolutely everything thrown at it when it comes to Mario. Sprawling 3D adventures, iconic classics, paper spin-offs and the usual roster of must have sports games like Mario Tennis Aces and Mario Golf: Super Rush . Since the Nintendo Switch hit the market, fans of a certain football/soccer series had wondered if Nintendo would ever resurrect it. Dribble into 2022 and developer Next Level Games returns to the pitch with Mario Strikers: Battle League. Does the new entry elevate the football experience to the next level, or has Nintendo not met the goal?

The series has been a rather quiet one for Nintendo and Next Level Games. The new Switch iteration is just the third entry so far. After a fifteen-year hiatus, fans have held onto their Mushroom Kingdom scarves in eager wait for something fresh. From the outset, Mario Strikers: Battle League completely looks the part - the jump, or more so leap, from the previous Wii entry is immediately clear. The added visual fidelity to the football franchise makes it an absolute joy to play. Frame gurus have reported a slick and stable performance, and having battered through hordes opposing teams, it holds incredibly well.

For those unfamiliar with the Mario Strikers formula, it is an all-out frenzy of things happening on the screen. Expecting a jolly calm session, simply passing the ball from player to player? That is not what goes down in the Mushroom Kingdom. Whether it's the items being littered across the turf or players leaping into special moves, the game keeps up and sticks to the beat. Each of the little details are captured well - brimming full of those sweet Nintendo touches, from the bustling audience to the charming, themed arenas. Characters are animated well, with each of their distinct personality traits on display - it may not be as riské as the Wii edition, but Next Level Games does an excellent job bringing a little theatre to the sport. Fortunately, raging fans out by the stands were not included.

Screenshot for Mario Strikers: Battle League on Nintendo Switch

Speaking of rage, where Mario Strikers: Battle League differs from your standard FIFA fare is that the action is brutal. For one, there's an electrified fence that adds just a dollop of tension to the mix and no referee to hand out those pesky red cards. The core controls remain intact from past entries and didn't need much tweaking - pass, lob and tackle as you would on the pitch normally, with additional buttons to dash, dodge and use items.

That is a fair amount to learn and fortunately the game includes a bunch of tutorials to ease new and seasoned soccer stars into how it all works. Items - shells, stars, explosives, slippery bananas - keep even the best players on their toes and don't detract too much from dashing for the goal. After a few practice matches, it all falls into place well - giving players a significant amount more control than might be expected. There is a solid amount of depth, and where Mario Strikers: Battle League excels is how refined it feels in action, allowing for real strategy and tactical play.

There's a surprising amount of balancing in a game that's this frantic, too, with rules allowing those who tackle players who aren't in possession to be gifted an item, ducks and dodges to really bring a little flair to proceedings. It wouldn't be a sports outing without gear, and Battle League includes gear for each character that tweaks stats - enhancing some attributes, like speed, in favour of reducing others, like strength. It's perfect for newcomers and allows seasoned players that bit more depth.

Screenshot for Mario Strikers: Battle League on Nintendo Switch

CPU battles are enjoyable, but where a sports game like these excels is playing with friends. Local player support works well, with a solid setup for crowding round the TV for a session of classic football fun. Heading online is a different ball game, however. Compared to previous titles, Battle League is a good step up when it comes to matchmaking random foes online - persistent connections, reliable framerates and leaning into the better-side of the very mixed bag of Nintendo online titles.

Where Nintendo have taken strides forwards, the team have taken odd steps backwards. At time of review, the game doesn't support teams of four individual Switch consoles. Players can share a Switch to haphazardly make this work, but the dream of being able to squad up remotely is extremely limited at present. There is also a lack of proper spectating tools, an essential feature for a game that demands it. It's a bizarre lack of options, especially coming off the back of the hugely successful Mario Kart 8 Deluxe that supports lobbies of up two twelve individual Switch consoles and more extensive tournaments.

If Nintendo and Next Level Games decide to patch in and improve the online features to at least mirror other first and second party games, it would sweeten the experience significantly.

Screenshot for Mario Strikers: Battle League on Nintendo Switch

Outside of the pitch, where the game does feel lacking is the content at launch. Nintendo have highlighted updates, but the base package - at time of review - feels a significant downgrade compared to past entries. For one, there is an offline tournament mode, but no campaign or story mode feature.

Granted, there has been a strong push and focus to beefing up the online matchups, but there is still merit in a sports package to have offline campaigns to devour. Past entries also brought other faces to the line-up as team members, or sidekicks. The Wii edition had the likes of Hammer Bro, Koopa Troopa, Boo and various others, whereas Battle League has far less players - most seemingly relegated to spectator duties.

The base package, with promise of additional features post-launch, make a game like Mario Strikers: Battle League a difficult one to manage. The focus has perhaps shifted to creating a package that runs well, and it does, online. There is a missed opportunity to play to Nintendo's strengths in the huge lore that could, and has previously, been explored.

Screenshot for Mario Strikers: Battle League on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Mario Strikers: Battle League is a promising start to filling the football boots of the long awaited sequel. Solid, liquid smooth performance on the pitch and that signature cocktail of personality and gritty football fun from Next Level Games.

Where the game falters, at time of review, is the significant lack of offline content, supporting characters and lack of basic online features found in similar multiplayer games.

If these issues are patched in, the base game is a solid package that sets the foundations for what could grow to be a more complete package.

Developer

Next Level Games

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Sport

Players

8

Online enabled

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

Comments

I was so looking forward to this...but it's so disappointing.

This trend of releasing bare minimum games and patching updates in later (free or not) is awful.

Beautiful animations, but there's so much to be frustrated with.

This sounds really fun, but I was put off previous Mario Strikers because of a lack of content... to hear it's the same here sadly makes me want to give it a miss completely. Switch Sports has been rather disappointing, as well, because it feels so barebones compared to Wii Sports Resort.

Totally agree with you, Az - I get why it's being done, to squeeze out sales longer, but give us a meaty game and THEN keep supporting it with more, not a skeleton to start with!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I'd honestly be interested to know how this does work long-term for the games they've been doing this with.

Surely, by the time the game is complete with all the content they want to add in, most people will have moved on from the game. Many people have put off buying Strikers, for example, because of the minimal launch content, and you'd have to wonder how many of them would still buy it even after the add-on content is released. People forget, buy other games, move on etc.

You can see some games having long legs, like Mario Kart, but I feel games like Strikers and Golf are more limited in their appeal. If Strikers doesn't do too well, I think only Nintendo is to blame. It is less popular than Kart, obviously, but I just have a feeling it's not gonna do as great as it could have done if they hadn't made such an unappealing, barebones package. And it's real sad, because I was one of those really waiting for a new Strikers. I got it because I had to use one of my vouchers up, but I wouldn't have gone near it based on its current state otherwise.

Tennis Aces, Golf and now this have all been disappointing on launch, like Az said I just don't get the approach. Unfortunately both Tennis and Golf have probably sold well enough for them to keep warranting this approach. I am more annoyed that the "full" game isn't on the cart if they keep doing this way of drip feeding out content.

The thing is what Aces turned out to be was good, but it still, to this day, lacks basic options that were available in previous Mario Tennis games. 

The demo for Mario Strikers actually tempered my excitement for this game, but that was just the demo I guess. On the flip side loads of people seem to be enjoying this but probably because they have not played the predecessors so they know how much better it could be.

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