This ain’t your momma’s soccer game
What with the success of Mario Tennis and Mario Superstar Baseball it was rather commonsensical for Nintendo to try their luck with soccer. I believe these games serve as proof that not everybody out there demands the hardcore realistic titles that we see so often as the norm with sports games like the FIFAs and the Maddens from EA. In fact, when it comes to Gamecube, for some reason sports games just aren?t its selling point ? even though I?d argue that of the three systems, Gamecube?s controller is the most comfortable and thus, ideal for sports games as they are typically intense and demand accuracy and precision.
Nevertheless Nintendo has been releasing these mascot-based sports games – such as the one I?ll be ranting about this week, Super Mario Strikers – and when it comes down to it, they?re great. I think the reason is because Nintendo is sticking to a very basic formula when it comes to these games: beautifully coloured and rendered characters, extremely simple and fluid controls, and power-ups and specials such as red shells, bombs and chain-chomps just mix things up.
As aforementioned, the controls are incredibly easy to get a hang of ? perhaps rather facile. I popped the disc in, started up an exhibition game and after experimenting with a couple of buttons and combinations I was whooping my opponent. I went through a few of the tutorials afterwards just to make sure I didn?t miss anything but for the most part I found I nailed the fundamentals e.g. passing, shooting and even charging up shots in quick time.
If you?ve played Mario Tennis, Mario Superstar Baseball or Mario-whatever, then you can expect to see the same roster of characters such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Yoshi and even the ever-popular, and especially ingenious creation – Waluigi. These guys serve as captains and you have to either choose Toads, Koopas, Hammer Brothers or Birdos to make up all of your teammates. I personally liked to use Yoshi with a team of Toads as this combination guaranteed swiftness.
In case you were wondering, there are no such things as red or yellow cards, throw-ins and corner-kicks. Even though the stadiums seem to be oft times outdoors, all the fields are fenced so that they operate like indoor ones, thus, the ball never leaves the field. Obviously, in a game in which you can toss shells and exploding devices at enemies to even or uneven the odds, there is no referee. But strikers has its own kind of penalty system so that players are deterred from tripping too much. Basically, should you trip an opponent who doesn?t have the ball, the opposing team will gain a special upgrade, e.g. three green shells will become three red shells, which can even be upgraded to three spiky shells.
The one downer of this game is the one-player mode is too easy. I assure you, you?ll fly through the tournaments in a day. But because it?s so easy to get the hang of, it makes for a fantastic multiplayer, in fact, you?ll be cursing and throwing fists with people in no time.
I?d say that Super Mario Strikers is worth checking out even if you don?t plan on playing against friends, it makes for a good rental. If you do manage to get four people together to duke it out on a regular basis I?d strongly recommend adding this to your collection as it is will make for engaging matches.