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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Next Level Games

 

ESRB

E+10 (Everyone)

 

Released

December 5, 2005

 

 

- Easy control, accessible to just about all ages

- Fun gameplay, especially with four human players

- Many different unlockables

- Looks good

 

 

- Some may find the gaming a little repetitive with the single player options

- No skills competition

 

 

Review: Sega Soccer Slam (GC)

Review: Mario Power Tennis (GC)

 

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Super Mario Strikers

Score: 8.8 / 10

 

I wish there were more games that are as fun as Super Mario Strikers.  The game doesn’t try to blind you with a bunch of glossy, (attempted) photorealism or distract you with accurate stats and true-to-life animation – it’s just fun, particularly when you’ve got a group of three friends playing along.

 

super mario strikers          super mario strikers

 

In the spirit of NHL Hitz, Sega Soccer Slam, and Mario’s numerous outings into the world of sport – baseball, kart racing, ultimate fighting, golf, tennis – Super Mario Strikers seamlessly melds a pick-up and play mentality with some excellent cartoon sports action.  The normal rules of soccer are paid lip-service.  Basically the only thing Super Mario Strikers has in common with real soccer is that both use a ball and there are goalies.  Real soccer doesn’t allow an invisible electric fence to keep the ball (and the players) on the field; no one ever tosses a big red turtle shell during a Man U match; slow-mo bicycle kicks never happen; and Bowser never shows up to tilt the field one way and spray fire at players on the field. (If there are similarities between Super Mario Strikers and Sega Soccer Slam it’s because several members of the development team worked on Sega Soccer Slam.)

 

You start a match by choosing a captain, one of the trademarked Nintendo characters like Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Donkey Kong, Wario, and Mario, then you choose your teammates – a trio of identical characters: Hammer Brother, Birdo, Toad, and Koopa.  The differences between the captains and teammates are non-existent.  While a game like Mario Kart Double-Dash offers some differences between character stats (Donkey Kong is slow to accelerate but has a good top speed; Mario is an all-round character), Super Mario Strikers just lets you choose your favorite character.

 

The difference between the regular teammate and the captains is that the captain is the only one who can initiate a Super Strike.  When the captain has the ball and the “shoot” button is held down long enough, a gauge appears over the character and if you can time the swing of the gauge needle correctly you’ll perform a shot which cannot be blocked and is worth two points.  Pulling this off is a particularly rewarding experiencing on the higher difficulty levels and against human opponents because it takes quite an effort to set it up.  If any opposing players are close they’ll likely deck you or they may throw out a power-up item, like a Bob-omb or the 

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brutally annoying Chain Chomp, to interrupt your attempt at a Super Strike.  One cannot rely purely on Super Strikes so it’s a good thing that the more “traditional” elements of soccer are present, like lob passes and one-timers.  Even with the traditional elements, Super Mario Strikers adds its own wrinkles.  When you perform a perfect pass – indicated by a green streak behind the ball – if a shot is attempted everything goes into bullet time while the player performs some acrobatics and you can direct the ball somewhat.

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Power-ups are “earned” by the opposing team if you knock down a player that does not have the ball.  Super aggressive players will find themselves on the receiving end of an almost endless stream of power-ups.  To earn power-ups yourself shots on goal will earn them.  The power-up system is actually a good way to balance each match.

 

Playing through the single-player Cup Battles (essentially tournaments) unlocks more fields, cheat options, and more difficult and longer Cup Battles.  It’s enough to keep a lone player glued to the game, but when you have friends involved… Super Mario Strikers practically turns into a different experience.  Multiplayer grudge matches is really where it’s at.  There’s nothing quite like two-on-two matches with some buddies or even your kids (if you have some).  And because there are a number of options that can be tweaked to level the pitch, you can adjust the gameplay to suit the style or skills levels of the people involved.

 

super mario strikers          super mario strikers

 

On the graphics and audio front Super Mario Strikers is just as good as the other Mario sports titles.  On a big TV in progressive scan mode and played in 16:9 aspect ratio, the action looks quite good and offers a great view of the field, which can become quite cluttered with power-up items.  But even on my 21” TV Super Mario Strikers and played in 4:3 aspect ratio it still looks great – bright, colorful, cartoony.  Because the action is so much back and forth there’s no commentary (though I’m told commentary was actually included in the initial concepts of the game), but it’s not really missed and the ambient noise – the crowd noise, Peach getting electrocuted on the fence, action on the field – is great.  It’s also very consistent with the Mario Universe.

 

Super Mario Strikers is a no-brainer as a family purchase.  (Although there’s “comic mischief” I have no problem recommending Super Mario Strikers as a great game that the whole family can take part in.)  Strangely enough, it should also appeal to any gamer just looking for a fun time, with or without friends.  Great stuff.

 

- Omni

(December 11, 2005)

 

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