Wii

North America

Mario Strikers Charged

by Aaron Kaluszka - August 7, 2007, 11:57 pm PDT
Total comments: 12

8.5

This isn't your father's Mario game.

Mario Strikers Charged is the sequel to the GameCube soccer title Super Mario Strikers. While the game may seem very similar to its predecessor at a surface level, a bevy of improvements, including the Wii’s first dedicated online multiplayer, result in a much better game than its forerunner.

With players decked out in armor and playing on desolate fields with a metal soccer ball, it wouldn’t be too far off to describe Mario Strikers Charged as Mario Strikers: Act Zero, except that this game is actually good. The post-apocalyptic setting of the game is easily the most un-Mario-like style ever for the series. Not only is Mario Strikers Charged the most atypical Mario game in terms of graphics and sound design, but also in its darker personality. It is certainly different seeing the mean-spirited side of the normally-happy-go-lucky Mario characters, and though the differences are a little jarring at times, the unique style is a breath of fresh air for the franchise, which still maintains enough of its character to feel like a true Mario Sports title.

Though based on soccer, besides the goal of getting the ball into the opposing team’s net, Mario Strikers Charged throws out the entire rulebook. Often, the basic rule of only contacting the ball with your feet is completely ignored with players throwing and punching the ball; heck, Boo doesn’t even have feet and can travel through players while in possession of the ball. There are no fouls, and players will spend at least as much time knocking down players as actually trying to handle the ball. The no-mercy style of game play goes well beyond NBA Jam as well as the most brutal of hockey games.

There aren’t any out of bounds because most fields are surrounded by an electric force field. Players near the edge can be thrown into this field, resulting in electrocution and thus a temporary inability to play. Certain stadiums don’t have these fields, so players instead can be thrown right off of the side into a bottomless pit, which knocks them out of the game for much longer than electrocution.

Carefully choosing the members of your team makes a huge difference in comparison with Super Mario Strikers. Depending on the opponent, team imbalances can become very apparent, and choosing the wrong members can make the game more difficult. Each character has his own special abilities, and the strategy employed when perfecting these abilities makes the game much deeper than is first apparent. Identical strategies simply will not work against every team. Despite the diversity of normal players, Kritter is always the goalie for all teams, and like the first game, he cannot be directly controlled except when he has possession of the ball.

While the sidekicks have their own unique abilities, captains have more powerful special abilities that are activated whenever they use a special item. For instance, Mario and Luigi have their classic super-size power-ups, which allow them to run around the field like Godzilla. Waluigi has the amusingly-titled “Wall-luigi" power, which allows him to lay down trails of briar wherever he runs.

Two major game additions significantly change the tactics employed on the playfield. First, the addition of weather and other on-field obstacles can make getting from one side of the field to the other a challenge in itself. Players will be hard-pressed to even keep possession of the ball. Besides the numerous standard items, such as shells and chain chomps, many of the fields have a plethora of their own hazards. From Thwomps to lightning that is attracted to the metallic soccer ball, the standard field can seem drab in comparison. One field really changes up play by making several of the characters disappear completely. A well-balanced team is essential in this case.

On some occasions, bad luck with the environment can make the game feel cheap. Certainly, it is infuriating to have played through an entire cup, only to lose to what seems like a cheap shot involving a stray tractor rolling over your player. However, there aren’t any totally random incidents because impending collisions are made known, though there might not be a lot of time to react. Players must simply adapt their playing style to the particular field, which gives the game a lot of challenge and novelty absent from the original.

The second major gameplay change is the inclusion of Mega Strikes. If the captain of a team is in possession of a ball and charges his or her shot, a charge meter appears. The meter counts from three up to six, representing the number of shots that will be taken. If the captain manages to pull off the Mega Strike without being tackled, a cut scene is shown of the captain flying high into the air and undergoing an ominous alteration even more extreme than the Final Smashes found in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. While some, like Wario’s air-sucking maneuver, are more humorous, most are downright scary, such as Peach’s Sephiroth-like transformation. After the short cut-scene, three to six balls come flying at the goalie. The game switches to pointer control, and the defender must target each ball as it comes in and quickly press A to destroy them. While it is easy to block all of the balls at lower difficulties, later in the game speedy reflexes are needed in order to shut out the Mega Strike.

The light that emanates from the metallic ball in Mario Strikers Charged changes color the more it is passed around. The closer to white the ball becomes, the more likely a shot taken on the goal will be successful. This leads to more passing strategy on the field.

While the first game’s one-player mode could get old quickly, Mario Strikers Charged improves single player in several ways. First, the gameplay is simply much more engaging, staving off boredom. Second, the game includes Striker Challenges, which put players in increasingly hard mid-game situations. Completion of the challenges unlocks cheat options, including the option to turn off Mega Strikes, for those who want a slightly more traditional game of Strikers.

The main single-player mode of the game, The Road to the Striker Cup, puts a single team up against a long succession of opponents. Each cup involves several qualifying rounds and then single-elimination championship games. Thankfully, the game can be saved, and players restart at the beginning of a cup if they fail to become champion. Though the game only includes three cups, the difficulty ramps up quickly, and players probably won’t be able to breeze right through, winning all of the championships.

The only serious problem with single player is a horrible AI for your teammates. The game essentially directs players towards the ball, but does little else, waiting for you to take control of the situation. The AI won’t engage the opposing team or even take possession of an easy ball. Unfortunately, the CPU team plays exquisitely well with each other, particularly in the harder stages, while you’re left with managing a brain-dead soccer team. Usually, I like taking control of players in sports games, but it would be nice to have a little balance between computer-controlled teammates and rivals.

Multiplayer also benefits from the improved gameplay but adds the long-awaited online play. Although online conditions are never perfect, most of the time, Mario Strikers Charged’s online gameplay is fast and smooth. Overall, it’s a pretty decent online experience, though there are several shortcomings. The game keeps leaderboards and other stats, and players can see which friends are online and whether they are playing or not. Disappointingly, Mario Strikers Charged again uses Friend Codes, though this time they are tied to players’ Miis rather than the console. This means that multiple people can keep individuals statistics on the same Wii console as Miis are selected when logging into Nintendo’s network, though it does nothing to simplify the Friend Code process.

Unfortunately, due to lag concerns, players are limited in their international play options. American players cannot add friends from other regions at all, even though the manual implies that it should be possible. Additionally, only two Wiis can be connected to each other at a time, meaning two systems with two players each are required for a four-player game and even then, the person in charge of second remote is considered a team guest rather than allowing for selection of another Mii.

Mario Strikers Charged is much more wild and frantic than its predecessor and is perhaps the zaniest Mario sports game in existence. The game never allows a dull moment, and it will keep players engaged with its fast-paced antics. The game’s unique portrayal of the Mario universe is an appreciated, albeit raucous change, and the depth of its gameplay is somewhat of a surprise. Mario Strikers Charged completes the package by gracefully ushering in the long-awaited Wii online multiplayer.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 8 9 9.5 8 8.5
Graphics
8

While not amazing, the graphics do push beyond the bounds of the GameCube’s abilities. The atypical Mario personalities are made evident during the post-score celebrations and Mega Strike cut-scenes. Players are even shown to be covered in burns or frost after certain attacks. On the down side, the fields with more special effects seem to exhibit a frame rate hit. The colorful characters can sometimes make it hard to determine which team they are on, but the game includes several camera views that neutralize the problem.

Sound
8

The soundtrack mostly stays away from reusing classic Mario tunes or even attempting to embody the traditional Mario style. The soundtrack is quite catchy and refreshing, though the music doesn’t always match up to the rest of the game’s atmosphere. The trademark Mario character voices are there but are used in moderation, and they do not become annoying like they have in some other Mario sports games.

Control
9

The game balances traditional control with a small amount of motion control. The motion control isn’t overused, and it serves the game well by making players feel more like they’re attacking their opponents. The point-and-shoot goalie control is an interesting addition that changes things up.

Gameplay
9.5

Mario Strikers Charged is simply a blast to play. From the variety of characters to the new stadiums, the game builds upon its predecessor in numerous ways. Though the game has a more serious tone than most Mario games, there are plenty of humorous moments that add to the overall experience.

Lastability
8

Due to difficulty, the one-player mode will last for a while despite only containing three cups, and the Striker Challenges give players even more to do. Of course, Mario Strikers Charged is even more fun to play in multiplayer mode, and the inclusion of online play should make the game a favorite for some time to come.

Final
8.5

Mario Strikers Charged easily places itself at the top of the Mario Sports collection. The game remedies most of the problems of the first game while practically reinventing the entire game of soccer. The diversity of characters and stadiums, as well as multiplayer options opens up much replay opportunity. Though sometimes the presentation barely seems like a Mario game, the item-heavy craziness is pure Mario at heart.

Summary

Pros
  • A new take on the Mario brand
  • Extremely engaging
  • Online multiplayer
  • Solid controls
  • Varied environments
Cons
  • Abysmal on-team AI
  • Friend codes and other unnecessary online limitations
  • Limited goalie control
  • Perhaps a little too much action for those who just want to play soccer
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

Shift KeyAugust 08, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: NewsBot
Players can add friends from other regions, but they cannot play ranked matches with each other.


Fact: Americans cannot add Aussies. This is clearly stated in the manual - and we have tried it. So you're stuck with friend codes from your region.

The manual actually implies that you can but they don't recommend it. I forgot to fix that statement after I actually tried it.

18 DaysAugust 08, 2007

It's an epic game, great review. I'm thinking of making a solid effort to be the number one Australian player next week.

trip1eXAugust 08, 2007

Yeah this is a great game. My first thought was meh because I had played the previous game. And at first it seems like the way to play is just go down and do a MegaStrike which is too easy in the beginning.

But then you start to learn the moves of the sidekicks and the STars and the dekes and there's just lots of options there.

Online is fun and pretty smooth, but go back to playing AI and you see how much smoother it is. This is true of all internet games tho.

ONe Nintendo dropped ball tho is No Comms. No voice. No text chat. etc.... We need something when playing against friends. I don't care about strangers.

18 DaysAugust 08, 2007

Voice would be bad. I swear almost constantly playing this.

PlugabugzAugust 09, 2007

Agreed. I go nuts at the insanely difficult AI (in single player, diamond cup).

CalibanAugust 09, 2007

Diamond cup? There are three cups, Fire, Crystal, and Strikers...is Diamond an extra Cup?

ryohazukiAugust 31, 2007

A con because theres limited goalie control?

WTF, name a recent footie game where you can control the goalie? at least the game uses the wiimote and you can acutally have some control over what the goalie does, I think its a good feature because if you have skill it can help prevent losing a game (especially online) rather than the keeper randomly saving the megastrikes.

Just my thoughts!

I don't know about soccer games, but I know hockey games let you have goalie control. It's almost the same thing, so I don't see why it can't be an option.

Goalie control not being in the player's hands in this gfame is good because it focuses the player on-the-field action. I guess a soccer SIM would neet it, but Strikers is not that at all, it's focused, 3-5 minute soccer games of fun.

ryohazukiSeptember 02, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Kairon
Goalie control not being in the player's hands in this gfame is good because it focuses the player on-the-field action. I guess a soccer SIM would neet it, but Strikers is not that at all, it's focused, 3-5 minute soccer games of fun.


No football games let you control the goalie, except for when he makes a save u can choose to pass, or kick the ball out, thats it! Thats the point I was trying to make. So it seems a bit pointless stating limited goalie control as a con, therefore you'd need to state that in every football game review!

Shift KeySeptember 02, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: 18 Days
Voice would be bad. I swear almost constantly playing this.


I'm tempted to request trash-talking functionality in the next game. Waluigi's crotch chops only go so far.

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Mario Strikers Charged Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer Next Level Games
Players1 - 4
Online1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario Strikers Charged
Release Jul 30, 2007
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone 10+
jpn: Mario Strikers Charged
Release Sep 20, 2007
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Mario Strikers Charged Football
Release May 25, 2007
PublisherNintendo
Rating7+
aus: Mario Strikers Charged Football
Release Jun 07, 2007
PublisherNintendo
RatingParental Guidance
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