Mario sports titles have garnered some major success throughout the years. With the exception of a couple of massive duds, you can almost bank on the notion that Mario and the gang being inserted into a random sport will translate into an across the board success. One of the least celebrated, but thoroughly enjoyable Mario sports titles ever to have been released was Super Mario Strikers, an arcade soccer title that contains one of the greatest multiplayer components ever in a video game. A two player battle between two seasoned veterans, or even two casual players would result in some of the most memorable and talked about events in gaming. While it didn’t have the major commercial success that Mario Tennis had, this Gamecube soccer title did earn a sequel on the Nintendo Wii, called Mario Strikers Charged. With a much stronger single player experience and a better overall visual presentation, Mario Strikers Charged set out to adjust a few of the previous titles shortcomings. But was Mario Strikers Charged able to take over the multiplayer realms as well? That’s what we’ll strive to find out in this edition of the Comparison Series: Super Mario Strikers (Gamecube) versus Mario Strikers Charged (Wii). As always, on the final day of the Comparison Series, a winner will be selected for Visuals, Audio, Gameplay and Replay Value, as well as the scores for each title, with an overall winner selected.
Today’s game will be Super Mario Strikers on the Nintendo Gamecube.
As one of the least supported sports titles under the Nintendo banner, Super Mario Strikers is actually the single best sports release from the company. While it certainly had its shortcomings in various facets, the overall package is so strong, that it balances out the experience perfectly. The most impressive feat however, comes in its depth.
There are eight readily selectable players to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses that are unfortunately never properly addresses during menu navigation or character selection. Donkey Kong is slow on his feet, as well has having the smallest Super Striker opportunity. Peach has a shorter tackle range, but has a good amount of speed to her movement. After you pick your character, you can select from four different batches of teammates, from the Toad brigade and their brutal deke abilities, to the slow on their feet Koopa Troopas. You’ll have four players in total on each side — three being the sidekick characters you choose from, and the main character being the fourth. Goalies are always CPU controlled.
The field is much smaller than your standard soccer field, with an electrical barrier surrounding it. If you get tackled into it, you will be momentarily stunned. You’ll also have several Mario items that come into play as offensive, as well as defensive additions. A mushroom will give you a boost of speed and hopefully send you into a breakaway, the blue shell will freeze the character it hits for a moment, while the star grants a very brief invulnerability, allowing you to shed off any attacks coming at you, or take out a few players ahead of you to give you more time to pull off a more precise shot. There aren’t many more items you can acquire, bu they all have their uses.
Super Mario Strikers isn’t just about kicking a ball into the goal; if you go about this mentality, you will be stuffed hard and often. You need to keep in mind what power ups you have currently, keep an eye on what power ups your opponent has, and be extra careful with your passing game. An errant pass can be intercepted more often than not by a slide from you or your opponent. Manipulating your C stick and your deke maneuvers will benefit your progress immensely, giving you the ability to finely tune your evasion, and flat out break your opponents momentum. For advanced players, the deke can even psyche out the CPU controlled goalie, faking them out to one direction with a missed tackle or grab, as you bounce by and kick the ball in. You can even float kick a ball over a defender if you’re in the right position and hit the ball just right. You can have a partner lob pass the ball for a Pele-like kick, which can go over a goalies head if timed and angled properly.
The depth doesn’t stop with dekes and close trick shots. You’ll have two other methods of trying to score — near half court shots, and the Super Striker. Long ranged shots can be manipulated in mid flight, enabling you to almost pilot the arc it takes. Holding either up or down while at the very top or bottom of the half court area, you can curve the ball around the opposing goalie, getting nothing but net, or banking it off one goal post and into the net. It’s a lot easier said than done, but mastering this long shot will go along way towards dominating the CPU, or a friend. Finally, the Super Striker is a two point goal that can be a chore to get off. Holding the kick button down will bring up a meter. Your goal (no pun intended) is to get inside the designated area to score two points. This is where our power ups come in handy, as a well timed three red shell shot can take out anyone coming close to you, giving you the time to try and nail the Super Striker. It’s an infrequent occurrence to have the time to pull off one Super Striker, so be aware that you may have to rely on the “old fashion” one point shots to get a win.
Super Mario Strikers isn’t the prettiest or most pleasant sounding title you’ll come across. There’s not a lot of detail going on, but then again, the gameplay carries the package nicely. Everything looks proper, from the cast of characters to the different stadiums you can play in, but nothing screams “impressive” outside Waluigi’s Degeneration X crotch chops.
Same thing with the audio, where the music is best kept off, as there’s nothing substantial or beneficial from having it play at all. The effects work and all fit in properly, from the voices to the ball being kicked about. You can tell that Next Level Gaming had their sights set on delivering one unforgettable experience.
The multiplayer game is hands down some of the best and most captivating gaming you’ll find in a two player setting. While there is the option to have four players total, the two player setting is more gripping and definitely leaps and bounds more enjoyable. For the advance players, Super Mario Strikers can lead to some epic matches, from the 1-0 seven minutes into overtime victories, right on through to a 20-4 rout. Beginners need not fret, as a multiplayer bout between them will still garner some intense moments and good times. It’s easily accessible by any and every gaming demographic, with the ease of gameplay welcoming those that are new or those that are casual gamers, to the surprising amount of depth for hardcore and advanced gamers.
Super Mario Strikers perfectly dismisses the problem so many games have been suffering from for years — graphics over gameplay. While what you see on screen is not deplorable by any means necessary, the tight gameplay and insanely addicting multiplayer aspects will be what players get a real kick out of. While the single player aspect isn’t the strongest aspect, having a friend alongside you will have you both hooked for a very long time to come. It earned its high placement in my Top 25 Games of This Decade, for all the right reasons.
Check back here tomorrow as we’ll be taking a look at the final review in this Comparison Series, Mario Strikers Charged on the Nintendo Wii, as well as who won in the Visual, Audio, Gameplay and Replay Value aspects, as well as the overall score for each game.