Saturday is quickly turning into Retro Review day. Soccer season is in full swing, so that's a good opportunity to bring up Mario's first soccer outing, Super Mario Strikers for the Gamecube.
Witness Mario's Fleet Feet
Mario has gone maniacal on us! He just can't turn down a game, can he? Man, with all the athletics Mario performs we can only hope that he has a lifetime supply of Ben-Gay stashed away somewhere. Nonetheless, not satisfied with being a plumber, a hero, a go-kart driver, a golfer, a basketball player, a referee, a painter, a tennis player, a baseball player, and a partier, Mario and friends have decided to take up a new pastime-- soccer (or as everyone else lucid calls it, football). This Next Level Games-developed title, Super Mario Strikers, brings the Mario crew to a whole new sport with an "extreme" attitude.
Mario is a jack of all trades.
The fun begins by choosing one of eight starting team captains. Each captain has a different playing style to them, so players can choose the captain that best fits their own personal interests-- yes, even those with interests of staring at the exposed torsos of Peach and Daisy. Take a cold shower, fellas. After choosing a captain, the next feat (pun intended) is to choose one of four sidekicks (Toads, koopas, hammer brothers, and birdos)-- once again each with their own distinct flairs. Each match is five on five. There's one captain, one Kritter (from DKC fame) goalie, and three sidekicks. Passing the ball is as easy as hitting the A button. Shooting is accomplished by tapping the B button. The longer the B button is pressed, the bigger the charge. The bigger the charge equals the bigger the chance of the ball going past the goalie. There's a slew of tricks that can be performed such as lob shots and perfect passes. Captains, when on the opposition's side of the field, can charge up their shot to the point of bringing up a meter a la Mario Golf. By hitting the meter in one of two green sections one can pull off a super shot which may or may not score. By hitting both green sections, your team captain will pull off an unstoppable super shot that will send the goalie and ball rocketing into the goal. Super shots are good for two points as opposed to just one. The only drawback with super shots is that they take a long time to get going, so anyone can come by and either hit or steal the ball away from the powering up player.
More players mean more action.
Mario knows sports. Mario knows soccer. Mario doesn't know traditional soccer. Among the fast-paced plays on the soccer field, players can earn items from stealing the ball from a foe to having the ball stolen from them. These can be used at any time. Bob-ombs can come flying from out of nowhere when one least expects it, or they can be frozen to a standstill by a blue shell. There's a large number of items, but to add to that craziness Bowser can sometimes land on the field, spitting fire like a garden hose sprays water. Sometimes a Chain-Chomp can plummet to the field and dance around without caution to the wind. Apparently, Mario does not know what a red card is either.
The main meat and potatoes of Super Mario Strikers rests in the Cup Battle mode. This mode pits your team captain against other captains in a league. The Mushroom Cup is three matches, and the player with the most wins at the end of the league wins the trophy. The following cups simply have more teams, more matches, and more of a difficulty. Cup Battle is the mode which will unlock more arenas to play in. However, there's only seven arenas and the only differences between them are aesthetic.
Bowser isn't playable, but he does cause a
lot of problems on the field when he arrives...
To round out the package are Milestones. These are bronze, silver, and gold trophies that awarded for a number of reasons such as scoring goals, hitting other players, and performing super strikes. Getting a gold means receiving a new cheat that can be used in grudge match play. Grudge match play is what will keep most gamers playing for more. However, without a friend to play against there's really nothing in Super Mario Strikers to keep a single player satisfied for very long.
While not the greatest sports title in Mario's impressive arsenal, Super Mario Strikers shouldn't get flagged with a red card either. It's a capable soccer game, but it's over far too quickly. While lacking a substantial production value it does weigh in where it matters most-- fun. For those with friends to play alongside them, pick this title up. It should be rather cheap now. For those without friends, sucks to be them-- er... rather... wait until Mario Strikers: Charged for the Wii.
[SuperPhillip Says: 7.25/10] - Super Mario Strikers is a capable soccer outing, but there's far better Mario spin-offs to be had other than this one.