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Mario Strikers: Battle League Football can be summed up in two words: customisable chaos.
Punting a teammate into an opponent for a ‘team tackle’ takes expert timing. As does the addition of charged tackles to a repertoire of ‘perfect’ passes, shots and tackles.
The good news is you don’t need any advanced techniques to start having fun.
There are three ways to play: quick battles, cup battles or by joining a strikers club.
Quick battles are local matches with up to eight players.
Cup battles pit your squad against a series of special opponents (think classic mode in Super Smash Bros).
But strikers club is where committed players will spend the bulk of their time.
With no story mode to speak of, Mario Strikers: Battle League Football is banking on players joining a club to keep them coming back.
Up to 20 people can join one club, which is pitted against others on a two-week fixture.
We didn’t get to test this in our session as the servers aren’t live yet, but clubs will be able to customise their outfits and the look of their home stadium, then play others to rise up through the ranks and earn coins.
Coins can be spent on in-game items known as ‘gear’ that can dramatically alter the attributes of your team.
Want a Bowser that’s as fast as Yoshi? Fine.
How about a Toad as tough as Donkey Kong? Totally doable.
There are trade-offs, and taking these deceptively customised characters online is part of the mind-game.
An average piece of gear costs around 100 coins and boy do they unlock slowly.
One quick battle earned us two coins. Completing all training levels, however, will award you with 800.
Unlocking them all for every character will be a slog, so spend wisely.
Nintendo wouldn’t say if more gear will be added over time as DLC but, thankfully, there’s no pay to win option. All coins must be earned in-game.
Unlike the recent Nintendo Switch Sports, there’s no waggle in Mario Strikers: Battle League.
Almost every button on the pro controller is used and you’ll need a handle on various combos to dodge tackles and cancel charged passes and shots.
At its best it is frenetic, fun and wonderfully animated.
Every character has its own strengths and its own super strike – a powerful shot on goal that will score you two points if you can pull one off.
Strike orbs appear at random for you to collect. Once you’ve got one, you’ll need some space to charge up and hit two points on a metre for power and accuracy (like in old-school Mario Golf).
On top of that, there are item blocks. Your team can hold two items and use them at any time, including a banana, green shell, red shell and bomb – all of which work exactly as you’d expect.
With five players on each team all with different attributes and customisable gear, it’s a lot to take in when – at any time – an opponent could kick you into an electrified wall.
Games are short but given the brutally tough A.I. controlled goalkeepers, both of our matches went to extra time.
For fans who have been waiting 15 years for a sequel since Mario Strikers Charged on Wii, there’s plenty to like.
Whether Nintendo can keep numbers up online with the lure of unlockable gear alone remains to be seen.
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Nintendo Switch Online subscribers can play for free in a “First Kick” demo next week.
Mario Strikers: Battle League Football’s training mode as well as online quick battles on Saturday 4th June, Sunday 5th June and Monday 6th June.
- Saturday 4th June 1:00pm – 2:00pm AEST
- Saturday 4th June 9:00pm – 10:00pm AEST
- Sunday 5th June 5:00am – 6:00am AEST
- Sunday 5th June 1:00pm – 2:00pm AEST
- Sunday 5th June 9:00pm – 10:00pm AEST
- Monday 6th June 5:00am – 6:00am AEST
Mario Strikers: Battle League Football releases on Nintendo Switch on June 10, 2022.