GAMECUBE REVIEW: SUPER MARIO STRIKERS

Golf? Check. Basketball? Check. Tennis? Check. Soccer? Umm...wait....Check. by StewXX

December 05, 2005 - There is something to be said for the quality of Nintendo games that feature its flagship character Mario. He's involved in several generic-style games from kart racers to pinball and from to golf to tennis. And now with Super Mario Strikers, Mario's prepared to take his fans out to the ballgame - as long as you know that this ballgame is soccer.

The Mario franchise has proven itself over the years to be a very consistent series that delivers arcade-style gameplay with a level of quality and fun that few companies can maintain. Super Mario Strikers delivers the fun, especially in the multi-player mode but the overall quality of the game suffers in the graphic departments. Textures tend to look blocky and blurry and there is a lot of slowdown which actually interferes with the gameplay. As far as options and modes go - there isn't many. The overall breadth of this game is one of restrictive functionality. There are just enough modes and features to cover the bases, so to speak, but it fails to hit a homerun. Sorry, I can't get the baseball analogies out of my head - without a hammer.

Characters include such luminaries as Mario, Luigi, Daisy, Peach, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Wario, and Waluigi. Pick one as a team captain and then chose a second banana such as Koopas, Toads, Hammer Bros and Birdos and the rest of your team will be made up of somewhat generic characters from the Mushroom Kingdom. There is no story mode which in this case would just drag down the pace which is quite energetic and frenetic.

There is a lot more taking place here than just a standard soccer match. This is like a Warner Bros. soccer match, complete with cartoon violence, weapons, evil schemes, gags and explosives. These cartoon features don't overpower the game, they actually enhance it. The soccer gameplay itself is solid with a very responsive control system and a minimum series of moves. The move list never increases so you use the power-ups and cartoon gags strategically to turn the tide of battle or further oppress your losing opponents.

Moves include running, jukeing, passing, lobbing, kicking and a handful of trick moves. When playing defense you can slam players into the electrified fence and cause them to drop the ball while they display some shocking animation - as a result of sucking up some current. Power-ups are awarded to the teams that need them the most. The CPU knows when you're getting a crap-kicking and it helps you compensate for your bad beats by giving you a helping hand.

Shooting the ball with one press of the button is the most basic way to score but it's not a guaranteed method of acquiring points. The best way to assure yourself of scoring is to press down the shoot button and hold it in until a swing-o-meter appears. It displays the power of your shot as it continues to load while you hold the button. Release the button when the meter swings into the timed area and you'll launch a virtually unstoppable Superstrike. Not only do you have to time these shots just right, but you have to make sure that no opposing player tackles you or pushes you during the process. Superstrike plays are worth two points as opposed to one.

Controlling the ball and the player is relatively easy thanks to the great ball physics and the forgiving ball-magnetism that keeps the ball attached to the handler. Just move the player along with the stick and out of the reach of the opposing team. That may not be as easy as it sounds especially if the other team has some turbo power-ups in which case they can gain on you in seconds. Teams can also release booby traps in the form of banana peels, explosives, spiked shells and even a large Chain Chomp. This works both ways and is dependant on the qualities of your team leader. When it comes to bananas you know that Donkey Kong is the one responsible for littering the playfield with slippery peels.

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System: GameCube
Dev: Next Level
Pub: Nintendo
Release: Dec 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by StewXX