Mario Strikers: Battle League
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|Mario Strikers: Battle League|
Mario Strikers: Battle League (known as Mario Strikers: Battle League Football in PAL regions) is a 2022 association football/soccer video game developed by Next Level Games and published by Nintendo. It is the first game in the Mario Strikers sub-series since Mario Strikers Charged, released on the Nintendo Wii 15 years ago, was released on the Nintendo Switch, and is the third game in the Strikers series in general.
- Once again, it was clearly rushed in development just for Nintendo to release it for the summer, which resulted in several problems listed below.
- To add insult to injury, like with many of Nintendo's games nowadays, they decided to once again release this in an unfinished state only to patch in certain elements that are missing from this game at a later date, proving that they are starting to care less about their games and more about money, completely going against Miyamoto's motto, "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."
- The game lacks a major amount of content, especially single-player content. There isn't much for a solo run, with the expectation of the Cup Battles mode, which is an inferior version of the Road to the Strikers Cup mode in Charged, being far more limited and playing out like a typical Sports Tournament, similar to Mario Sports Superstars, rather than an amazing single-player experience that feels good to play, even by today's standards.
- Although Mario Tennis Aces and Mario Golf: Super Rush’s adventure modes were too short, at least those two games made attempts at an adventure mode. While this game only offers the cups as a single-player mode, and that’s it. What makes this even more of a slap in the face is that instead of getting a story mode showcasing the science fiction elements, players are just left with cup battles, which is absolutely ridiculous, especially since a story mode showcasing the science fiction elements and where players would end up composing teams and vying for the championship against intergalactic entities and robots like the tutorial host Fútbot would have made this game more worth the $60 price tag (although not by much, it could have made the experience less barebones). Not to mention, it would have been great potential for a Mario Strikers game too.
- There are only five colors (red, pink, orange, yellow, and green) for your team and five other colors for the opponent's team (blue, cyan, purple, lavender, and grey), which is disappointing and it would have been better to choose any colors and emblems they like.
- The custom colors and emblems only work when players create a team in the Strikers Club.
- The new game modes aren't very interesting nor memorable, as they're rehashes of previous game modes from other Mario Sports games, such as the new Striker's Club mode which is clearly just like every online mode in the other Mario Sports games, with the only unique thing about it being the customizable gear system which is just the same as the customizable modes in other Sport spin-offs in the Super Mario franchise, which makes the overall experience very tiring and plain.
- Additionally, the only real unlockables are gear which you can buy with coins, and there aren't that many of them.
- The Menu UI is just a disastrous pain to navigate since the layout is so convoluted that you're likely to get lost and confused about what you're trying to set up with the game modes.
- The game also features a considerable amount of loading times while changing menus, which makes navigating them even more of a pain than it already is.
- Underwhelming character roster, as there are only 12 playable characters in the roster and many iconic characters such as Bowser Jr and Petey Piranha, were given the boot (though Daisy and Shy returned via a free update, and along with Pauline and Diddy Kong set to return in a second free update for this month), and the only new ones in the roster are Toad, Rosalina and Pauline. But Toad and Shy Guy were already playable as sidekicks and the change into the main one isn't a real change really, and the fact that the sidekicks were removed adds to the already lackluster character roster as a whole.
- Lifeless and purely aesthetic stages that recycle the same layouts as each other, and don't have enough variety to make them unique or interesting enough from the stages from the previous two games. What stinks about this is because Charged had a lot more stage variety and dangerous obstacles (including Sand Tomb's Thwomps and Crystal Canyon's lasers) that made them special to begin with, which is what this game lacks entirely.
- What’s even more of a slap in the face about this is that even Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash only had one court, and even the courts there had more variety than this, and that released in 2015 on the Wii U.
- The game is a lot more slower-paced than other Mario sports games, which were faster and slick with good time reactions and challenging gameplay that tested the patience of the player, whereas this game, it forces you to mash the buttons to make the pacing faster which is rather tiring, and the overall game is way too easy with zero challenge at all.
- Charged has that distinction, such as the players playing a minigame where they have to guard the balls from the Mega Strikes, but that's to a lesser extent.
- The CPU AI for the Boom Booms is just atrocious, as he's very slow and doesn't react fast enough to block your kick of the ball into the goal, which can easily result in a point. This is probably due to the laughable animation he does when trying to block the ball from getting into the goal, as he slides away from the goal and just swipes his hand towards it when it clearly isn't aiming at him at all and is likely going to the goal, just like Sports Superstars, but with Pom-Pom, which makes the game a bigger cakewalk than it already is.
- It should also be noted that Boom Boom is just a poor replacement for Kritter since he isn't as smart nor clever as Kritter, and tends to barely catch the ball at all.
- For some reason, Rosalina's character model is absurdly laughable, with more polygons and a larger draw distance, which doesn't match with how the other character models are sized in the game.
- Cutscenes (both the intro cutscene and in-game cutscenes) have occasional frame rate drops that dip from 60fps to 50fps (although not as bad as 30fps) which can get extremely jarring at times when watching them, and the overall quality of them can get rather pixelated at times thanks to frame rate dipping in quality a bit at times.
- The in-game cutscenes have a more lighter approach for the characters' animations. While that's not a bad thing, the Mario Strikers series is known for its edgier nature, so it's jarring for Battle League to suddenly be more family-friendly, even if the characters get pushed in electric fences and all.
- Lack of other features like game modes and alternate ways to play like the Striker Challenges from Charged or any other extras which it feel like an unfinished game.
- A bit too overpriced for its own good, with the game costing a total of $60 in North America, $79.95 in Australia ($69 at JB-HI-FI), and £42 in Europe despite being far too much for a game that has very little content in it and has barely anything unique going for it really, and not to mention that Charged only initially costed $20 and it had a lot more content and originality to it than this game ever had.
- During the matches, it has two winning animations and one losing animation, in contrast to Charged's six (for certain characters) and two, respectively, which is a bit disappointing. Fortunately, they're a major improvement over Mario Golf: Super Rush's bland animations (and Mario Strikers Charged's infamous losing animations).
- Also, Daisy straight-up CRIES should an opponent score on her. This is jarring because this completely contradicts her tough-as-nails personality, as well as the fact that her losing animation in Charged (where she glares at her frightened teammates) was actually hilarious (and mostly mean-spirited) compared to this.
- Diddy Kong also has the same losing animation as the one in Charged, implying that he did not learn his lesson from the previous game, but fortunately it is not as bad. This also proves that this is a wasted potential, since he could have just calm himself down like Peach does in this game (showing that she redeemed herself) after her flanderization in the previous game.
- The soundtrack, while great, has no variety, as it uses just rock as his rhythm base. Several theme songs for the characters, for example, feel plain or out-of-place, like Peach's, instead of make the characters personality shine by using several music genres. And the remixes from Charged aren't too good, either.
- To add insult to injury, the stadiums have the same issue, with the Spooky Mansion stadium being an exception.
- Little to no new voice clips. The vast majority of them are reused from Mario Kart 8, and they're played several times, which is aggravating for those who wanted the actors to record new voice clips, as this Twitter user pointed out.
- The only exceptions that have unique voices are Mario wanted to pass the ball and the upcoming Pauline's losing animations,
- It doesn't have a final team boss match once you reach to the final of the last cup (Championship Cup), such as Bowser, Rosalina, Donkey Kong, etc. appearing once. You just play against a generic random team or one made of a same character (Toads, Yoshis, and Shy Guys) and it is underwhelming should you know how to play.
- Zero originality when compared to previous games, as lots of traditional features from past games have been removed and the unique and fun gameplay of Charged has been replaced with more standard soccer action that regresses the formula far back to the point where it feels more like the original Strikers on the Nintendo GameCube but without the charm it once had, and it makes Battle League feel more like the first installment of a [insert random] soccer franchise rather than the third game in the Mario Strikers series as it's intended to be in the first place.
- The graphics look absolutely beautiful, with a cartoony vibe to its crisp animations and an amazing art-style that fits the Mario series. All in all, Luigi's Mansion 3, which was also made by Next Level Games since both games have the same developer which explains why they look so similar to each other in general.
- The gameplay, despite being more slower and easier, is still very fun to play and hasn't been downgraded at all with the previous games.
- The cutscenes are still fun to watch due to how amazing-made the animations are and how fluently they move with the actions they fit the motif of the characters and how well they blend with the family-friendly nature of the Mario franchise in general, despite the family-friendly tone being out of place for a Mario Strikers game, as said in BQ#10.
- Said animations ooze LOADS of personality, with the particular highlights being Donkey Kong's breakdance and Waluigi catching a rose with his teeth.
- Rosalina has finally been added as a playable character in the Strikers series, which was praised by many since fans have wanted Rosalina to make a playable appearance in the series since she started to become fully playable in other modern Mario games and spin-offs and it was likely for her to playable in this entry, which was nice for Next Level Games to add her as apart of the playable roster as a whole.
- Daisy and Shy Guy have been added in a free update alongside a new stadium called, Desert Ruins, and a Knight set, with more to come (including Pauline and Diddy Kong, which are added in a second free update for this month).
- The Gear System is a nice new feature added to the game, as it allows you to customize the characters with new Gear and the potential to also raise the stats of each character to make them more fun to play and easier to handle, which adds a new fresh coat of paint to the core gameplay of the Strikers sub-series.
- Despite the soundtrack being nothing but rock, there are still some bangers here and there.
- Say what you will about this game, but it was nice to see the Mario Strikers sub-series back in the limelight ever since the highly-acclaimed Charged in 2007, 15 years before the release of this game which feels refreshing due to the Tennis and Golf sub series' being overused for Sports spinoffs in the series that led to disappointing titles such as Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash.
- Some of the losing animations in this game are slight improvements over the Charged losing animations and they have less mean-spirited moments (even if some of them are poorly written).
- Peach redeemed herself in the game, as she strays away her stereotypical "mean popular girl" self in the previous game. Here, she calms herself down when an opponent scores on her rather than throwing a big tantrum about it, as said in GQ#3.
- On top of that, Pauline's losing animation is also well-written since she gets disappointed when an opponent scores on her at first, but then she knows that she'll do better next time.
- The lip sync is surprisingly better than the previous games, especially for Wario and Waluigi.
- The artwork for the game is phenomenal, to the point where it even tops the predecessors'.
While it received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, it was an immense disappointment for several fans and gamers alike, who lambasted its lack of content, slower and easier gameplay than previous titles, mediocre character roster that lacked certain characters such as Daisy and many more, and the overall game being unfinished since it was rushed in order for the summer.
It holds a 4.2 user score on Metacritic in the Red Zone, which is the lowest-rated user score for a Mario-related game to date and holds the record for being the most disliked Mario game from fans to date thanks to this.
The game is also considered to be one of the worst Mario Sports games of all time, along with Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, by many Super Mario fans alike.
- Each color trails of the team while dashing or kicking a soccer ball in full force resembles the Electron wheels from Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled:
- Red team's trail resembles Electron Team Cortex;
- Blue team's trail resembles Electron Team Bandicoot;
- Green team's trail resembles Electron Team Oxide;
- Yellow team's trail resembles Electron Team Trance;
- Cyan team's trail resembles Electron Doom Buggy;
- Pink team's trail resembles Electron Roadster;
- Orange team's trail resembles Electron Trikee;
- And Grey and Black team's trails resemble Electron Deadinator
- The only exceptions are the Purple and Lavender team since they have indigo-colored trails and Lime Green team has lime green-colored trails.