On February 9th, Nintendo shocked the gaming world with the out-of-nowhere announcement that Super Mario Strikers: Battle League is coming to the Nintendo Switch later this summer. That got me thinking about the original release on the GameCube, so I decided to pull out my orange Japanese console for the ultimate retro review to get us hyped about the upcoming Battle League!
So does Super Mario Strikers on the GameCube still hold up? Is this one of the best Super Mario sports titles ever? Let’s find out!
One thing to get out of the way immediately are the graphics. Super Mario Strikers came out in 2005 on the Nintendo GameCube, so this is a 17-year-old title with 17-year-old visuals. To be honest, the GameCube’s graphics across the board still hold up really well, and although it is a bit grainy, the game still runs incredibly well and looks lovely in the process. The animations for each character’s special abilities, particularly, are still a joy to see and are really well animated.
What surprised me upon returning to Super Mario Strikers is how well it controls. The game benefits tremendously from being the first of the series and Next Level Games keeping the controls simple enough for any casual to pick up and play with no problem. As a dad now, my children have been playing with me, and they picked it up instantly. When controls are that easy to understand, that deserves massive praise, especially when they can be deep.
Gameplay is an absolute riot, as the full-contact, Mario-branded soccer/football title continually creates highlight moments. Hard checks into the electric fence will have characters screaming in pain, hits and slide tackles have a great thud about them, and the passing and shooting is quite intuitive for a Super Mario sports game. Super Mario Strikers even has special abilities and items that create even more chaos on the field, and it is honestly a riot every single time, especially with four players.
One of my favorite things about Super Mario Strikers are the special shots. Every character has a unique special shot that, if connected, guarantees 2 goals, but hitting these shots is quite the challenge, especially if you are playing against other human players. Only the captain in this version can score a special shot, and it takes a while to charge it up, leaving the captain vulnerable. If you happen to get the line in the two slim green sections, congratulations!
Of all the characters that deserve their own highlight, it is absolutely Waluigi. Although the evil Luigi got his famous start in Mario Tennis, he came to his own in Super Mario Strikers. Waluigi’s antics and gestures, particularly the crotch chop, are some of the funniest in Super Mario history, and they all started here! I cannot wait to see what this goofball is going to do next in Battle League.
One area of disappointment is the criminally small roster. Although there is a healthy amount of fields for the first entry in the series, the roster definitely is lackluster. There are only 8 captains to choose from, with one more character to unlock (That isn’t even a proper Super Mario character), but there are only 4 secondaries, which is disappointing. Basically, there are only so many combinations to make for teams, which can become stale after a while.
Considering when this came out and the fact that it was Nintendo’s first attempt at a Super Mario-themed soccer/football game, Super Mario Strikers is an insanely fun title that delivers excellent experiences, especially in a party setting.
This was one of the sleeper hits on the Nintendo GameCube, and it is exciting to know that the series continues with the third installment coming to the Nintendo Switch. This may not be the deepest soccer/football experience, but I can guarantee this is one of the most entertaining ones.
I mean, c’mon. Waluigi shines brighter than the sun here. This game is golden!
Fantastic and hilarious gameplay
Special shots are so fun!
Lots of game modes
Roster is a bit lackluster
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.