With Battle League Football, Nintendo has created one of the most intense and fun sports games of this generation. But will football fireworks keep the ball going for long?
The excitement grew when Nintendo announced Battle League Football, the first new installment in the popular Mario Strikers franchise in 15 years. Like most Mario spin-offs, this series enjoys a lot of nostalgia and popularity among fans. They had to wait a long time, but now it’s finally time. Was it worth the wait?
Answer: yes – but with limitations. Battle League Football is a very fun and well-made game. The “Mario + Soccer” formula works as always. A certain lack of content and technical problems make the fun a bit worse.
A quick kick in between instead of simulating
In Mario Strikers, the bearded plumber and his colleagues tie their soccer shoes and play spectacular matches on a virtual lawn. The game takes place in 5v5 mode, before each match, you can choose four field players from among ten available characters, such as Peach, Donkey Kong or Luigi.
Each character’s skills are grouped into five different categories – power, speed, shot, passing, and technique. Mario is a technically versatile all-rounder with a solid finish, Yoshi rushes across the field and Donkey Kong wins every match with his strong nature.
Battle League Football takes a similar position to other Nintendo sports games such as Mario Tennis Aces. This means even beginners and people who don’t know anything about the sport should grab the controller and have fun quickly. Up to eight players can compete simultaneously in local multiplayer.
Chaotic action on the court is fun and looks spectacular.
The party game principle in titles like “Mario Kart” seems to be working again here. Arcade extravagance comes to the fore. Everyone can be separated from the ball with powerful strokes, the ball moves quickly and matches often end in 7: 3 or 9: 4.
It’s a lot of fun hitting the keys until the ball somehow lands in the goal net. Graphically, Mario Strikers makes a good impression: Especially when objects like red tanks and bombs are used, a real firework of effects unfolds. Chic cutscenes show special moments and create an atmosphere.
The action is triggered by objects such as bananas or tanks.
Hyper shots are a graphic attraction, if you pick up a specific object in the game, your kickers can start a special shot. The execution is directed in an effective comic book style, the hit counts twice.
A real eye-catcher: the new hyper shots.
Overall, Battle League Football looks really good on a Nintendo Switch veteran. Unfortunately, the game does not always run smoothly, sometimes there are some frame rate drops. This can be frustrating and reduces the enjoyment of playing in hectic events.
If you take your time, you will discover some depth and complexity in the gameplay. There are more options in Battle League Football than in the shallower predecessors. With enough effort and practice, players can perform manual relay passes, accurate corners, and clever tricks. Of course, you shouldn’t expect a simulation like FIFA or eFootball. However, the arcade facade is more than meets the eye.
Not much to do as a single player
At least that’s the case with Mario Strikers: Battle League Football. Overall, however, Nintendo cannot offer too many surprises. If you’ve played Mario Strikers before, you’ll be familiar with almost everything on this branch.
If you want to play alone, you probably won’t be holding the ball for very long. The focus here is on knockout tournaments, which work similarly to the cups in Mario Kart. You have to survive three rounds against AI opponents and the correct trophy is yours. There are six of them, after going through them once, you will be able to unlock more difficult enemy variants.
Such a hyper shot is unbearable for a goalkeeper and also counts twice.
In addition to being able to play head-to-head against the computer and training mode, it’s all for the single-player content in Battle League Football. Fun story mode or fun mini-games like Mario Tennis Aces are missing here.
The action of the ball is always fun, but due to the often weak AI, many duels become relatively trivial gameplay. After a few hours, you will play each trophy at least once.
The new equipment not only looks cool, but also influences the gameplay.
All kinds of progression systems only exist in the form of equipment that can be unlocked with earned coins. Each item, be it a new helmet or fresh boots, increases and decreases one skill of the selected character accordingly. The system is fun and the fun armor is eye-catching. However, this part of the game does not necessarily provide a lot of motivation. The coins had no other function as yet.
So, for single players, the package is rather thin. However, Nintendo has already announced that Mario Strikers will get free content – this should include new characters. No specific information yet.
Promising online modes
How about playing Mario Strikers: Battle League Football online? You can also play single games here, in 1vs1 or 2vs2 modes. The game becomes even more chaotic with human opponents, but also more competitive than with the computer.
In our experience, online opponents are much more active than the somewhat sleepy AI. Items are used more often in multiplayer, aggressive handling requires combat and sacrifice in every yard. Advanced controls also have their own here. More complex actions such as hand passes and false shots are needed to help you succeed. The duels can be particularly exciting here – this is where Mario Strikers is most fun.
But there are also technical disadvantages here. As with the time-limited demo, we experienced disconnections and stuttering. Sometimes it was not possible to find another player. There, Nintendo needs to adjust the online offer.
Create your own club in the Strikers Club.
This will be especially needed in the biggest online mode, the “Strikers Club”. Here, players can create their own club with up to 20 people. After selecting the national team kicker, shirt colors and other details, leagues can be played against other teams. In the weekly seasons, things should get to the point and become competitive.
Unfortunately, this mode was not active at the time of testing. The first season is scheduled for June 20. We are curious if the concept works and if it can provide long-term motivation.
Mario Strikers: Battle League Football turned out to be a fun game, but it doesn’t convince without limits. The light presentation and furious action are great fun. However, a relatively thin team will not be able to entertain many players for a long time. Technical problems also reduce the fun of the game. We hope the promised content and Nintendo patches can round out and improve the game.
On the other hand, online games and the Strikers Club mode are the main attraction of the game, this is where the very fun gameplay becomes itself. If Nintendo manages to build an exciting, competitive structure around itself, this mode could become a great attraction in Battle League Football. However, please note: You can only play online if you purchase a paid subscription.
So initially, a somewhat ambivalent impression remains. Anyone who is a fan of the show knows what to expect here and will most likely catch it. Multiplayer is fun, both online and on the couch. But if you only want to play alone, Mario Strikers offers you some long-term motivation.
Mario Strikers: Battle League Football is now available on Nintendo Switch. A paid Nintendo Switch Online subscription is required to play online.
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