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Thursday January 19, 2006 4:19 am

Playfeed Review: Super Mario Strikers

Super Mario Strikers Review PlayfeedOkay, so let’s be real for a second. Mario is one talented plumber. He somehow manages to hang on to that day job while stomping giant mutant turtles (of the non-ninja variety), making time to party with his friends, and taking part in just about every sport known to man. Most recently, that would be soccer. We gave you an early preview of Super Mario Strikers when we went hands on with it at E3 2005. We have finally played through every part of the finished product that we can, and we are back to give you the scoop on whether Mario continues with another super game, or if he strikes out.


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

First things first - Super Mario Strikers has mass appeal. The pick up and play control scheme makes it easy for anyone, whether a seasoned gamer or a pitiful noob, to jump right in and have fun. Now, starting the game up, you will soon realize that you don’t have that many options for what you can do. It’s a soccer game, and while the seven different fields may have different Mario-esque visuals, but aside from the look, there isn’t that much variety. If you have played Sega Soccer Slam early on in the Gamecube’s existence, you should be immediately comfortable with Strikers.


GAMEPLAY


Teams in Super Mario Strikers are comprised of a captain (think the Mario Party crew,) three teammates, and a crocodile goalie. The problem here is that teams also lack the feeling of being unique. Yes, the captain is the individual you build your team around, but it would have been nice to have teammates that varied in abilities and specialties to make the game have just another level of depth. Don’t get us wrong - the soccer is great. Everything is fast-paced, and you will definitely have a blast if playing against a friend. The problem is that Strikers has a hard time standing on its own as a one-player game. With a few tweaks, it could have been better. Still, you do get a choice of a team comprised of a school of Toads, Birdos, Hammer Brothers, or Koopa Troopas. It’s just that they are all the same, save for voices.

While Strikers is a great party game that anyone can have fun with, don’t expect button-mashing to get you too far. There is a small learning curve that will make a good player into a great one if they take the time to go through the tutorial and practice the moves. Trivial things like passing and shooting can be made very exciting if one knows how to take advantage of the situations presented to them in the game. For example, if you pass to a teammate who is in scoring position, and then hit shoot as soon as the pass connects, you get the “Perfect Pass” which will slow the action down Matrix-style for a few seconds. When going for a goal, you can hold down B to charge up your kick. If done correctly, a meter pops up. Stop the meter in the right place, and you will enter a cool slow motion cinematic sequence where you try to kick the ball into the net with fire, thunder, or some other force of nature propelling it at high velocity.


The more standard soccer fare is featured as well, just don’t count on any flags to be thrown. You can slide, tackle, and juke. Knock an opponent into the stadium wall, and they receive a shock that paralyzes them for a few seconds. Satisfying, indeed. Even better, you can earn power-ups (this is a Mario game) that send your opponents flying. One example of a power-up is the ability to send blue turtle shells flying across the field which, if touched, will freeze your opponent for a few seconds allowing you to get past them.

Controlling your team is simple, and the goalie is on auto-pilot, allowing you to focus on the action on the field. It’s a good thing, because Strikers soccer goes at breakneck speeds. Expect the ball to go back and forth from team to team multiple times per minute. This adds to the games charm. You never can be sure that you have control and will make that goal. This results in mayhem both on-screen and in your living room. In our tests, our reviewers were talking smack while on-lookers let out a few “Ooooh’s” whenever someone was tackled hard.


FINAL VERDICT


Playfeed Super Mario Strikers Review ScoreThink of Super Mario Strikers as an arcade sports game meant to sit next to Super Monkey Ball and Mario Party on your shelf, and you will see it for what it is. This is what Nintendo gave us this past holiday season to play against visiting family members after opening presents. If you are having a few people over, or have siblings around that you want to put a thrashing to, Super Mario Strikers is for you. If you are looking for a deep single-player experience, stick to FIFA instead. While Strikers lacks a mountain of options and gameplay variations, it does what it is meant to do very well - that being providing a fast-paced take of soccer, Mario-style.

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