Mario wears many hats (sometimes literally). While his main profession is the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom, that doesn’t stop this Italian plumber from having plenty of hobbies, such as kart racing and participating in just about every sport under the sun. It isn’t uncommon to find Mario teeing off for a round of golf, swinging his racket in a tennis match, or even competing at the Olympics. One sport that he’s only dabbled in, despite being the most popular one in the world, is soccer, aka football. We’ve only gotten the chance to lace up our cleats with the cast of the Mushroom Kingdom in two prior games: Super Mario Strikers on the GameCube and Mario Strikers Charged on the Wii.
These soccer games, despite being a mostly noncontact sport, were some of the most brutal and serious depictions we’ve seen of Mario and company. Because of the more family-friendly image Nintendo likes to present Mario with, many gave up hope of this series ever coming back. That only made the announcement of the sequel, Mario Strikers: Battle League, now 15 years later, all the more exciting. This is a much different style of sports game than other Mario titles, and an even greater departure from other soccer games, so newcomers have a lot to learn and look forward to. Before you strap on your shin guards, here’s everything we know about Mario Strikers: Battle League.
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Within the slew of new announcements and release dates shown off during the February 2022 Nintendo Direct, Mario Strikers: Battle League was both revealed and given a firm release date of June 10, 2022. This means fans will only have to wait a short time before they can get their hands on the title, which is a welcome surprise.
However, if you wanted to test out the tutorial and some online matches prior to launch, you can download a “Test Kick” demo that will run from June 3 to June 5. This demo will let you play matchmaking games, or join friends.
It should come as no surprise that this Mario sports game, published by Nintendo, and developed by Next Level Games, which is owned by Nintendo, will be coming exclusively to the Nintendo Switch. If you don’t have your hands on this console, you’re out of luck for playing Mario Strikers: Battle League.
The announcement trailer opens with some pre-rendered cinematics of the iconic Mario universe cast taking to the field wearing gear that makes them look more like they’re preparing for a fight than a soccer match. Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Toad face off against Bowser, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, and Rosalina to cheering crowds of toads, Yoshis, Koopas, and Shy Guys. The two teams battle over control of the ball, with Bowser getting blown up by a giant Bob-omb at one point, before we see a few special moves from the cast, ending with Mario launching a spiraling shot that catches fire towards the net.
After that point, the footage becomes actual gameplay that we will dissect in the next section. Beyond that, in terms of story, there’s not much that needs to be said. Mario Strikers: Battle League is a sports game, and is more about the mechanics and events you make happen during the matches than any real narrative.
This is where we can dig into a lot of juicy details for Mario Strikers: Battle League. Right off the bat, this game will be a 5-on-5-style soccer game “that’s way heavy on offense,” as the trailer puts it. The game is shown from an isometric perspective to show about half the field at once and is just about scoring more goals than the other team. Aside from normal shots and passes, tackles (which look way more like dropkicks) are the main tool for stealing the ball from your opponents. We see Mario do this to Luigi, who hits the edge of the field and seems to get shocked by an electrical grid running around the field.
Items similar to Mario Kart will also be in play. We see a giant banana peel to trip up opponents and a green shell that can knock them out of your way. Each character will have their own unique special shot, like Yoshi putting the ball into an egg that bounces around three times, sending out shock waves before blasting the ball toward the net.
The trailer points out two primary tips for how you should strategize. The first is what you equip on your character. Aside from making you look rad on the field, each different component — head, arms, body, and legs — will increase and decrease different stats for your player. Each character has strength, speed, shooting, passing, and technique stats that can go from zero to 25. The example showed Mario with six head options, including the ability to not wear any. The Muscle Helmet shown would give +2 strength, but -2 technique, so balancing your character’s loadout will be a big component to consider before ever hitting the field.
These pieces of gear also have prices associated with them. The helmets all cost 100 coins, but how you earn coins is still a mystery.
The other tip was on the special shots called Hyper Strikes. A little like the orb from Smash Bros. that gives you your Ultimate Smash, a glowing ball will appear on the field that you can pick up. Once you have it, your entire team begins to glow. If you can manage to charge it up, playing a little timing mini-game, you will unleash a stylish Hyper Strike that not only seems very hard to block but also counts as two goals rather than one if it lands.
The Overview Trailer released really gives a good look at how Mario Strikers: Battle League will flow. The trailer focuses first on the Strike mode, which is a 5-versus-5 match where, aside from scoring goals to earn points, all other soccer rules are tossed aside. There are no fouls in this mode, so you’re free to tackle and use items as you please. In fact, you can even do a new move called a Team Tackle, where tackling a teammate from behind gives them a massive speed boost. If you can aim them at the other team, they can even steal the ball this way.
As far as the roster is concerned, we saw a list of 10 characters, though there might be more not shown. The ones we can confirm are:
- Donkey Kong
No other modes were shown off, but one would hope there are some little extra modes or even some sort of season or campaign-style mode for a little bit more single-player-friendly content.
Eight players can all play Mario Strikers: Battle League at once, allowing for matches of 4 on 4 on a single Nintendo Switch console. Of course, you can also play online matches with up to two people teaming up on the same console, which will also have something called the Strikers Club Mode. These clubs can have a maximum of 20 people that are competing against other clubs in what looks to be a leaderboard or tournament-style ranking. Clubs can be named and have uniforms, and they can also have policies like “playing to improve” and “just having fun.” You can even customize your own Club stadiums.
There will also be Cup Battles, but we’ve only seen the menu option for this so far.
The Mario sports titles have been enjoying the most DLC they’ve ever had when making it over to the Nintendo Switch, and we expect the same to be true for Mario Strikers: Battle League. To be clear, Nintendo has made no public announcements or plans to add any DLC, though more often than not the company prefers to release DLC as a surprise. However, it is being reported that an extended gameplay demo revealed that there would be multiple DLC additions to the game. No specifics were mentioned other than the fact that more characters would be some part of this DLC plan.
Mario Strikers: Battle League is up for pre-order right now. You can reserve your copy directly from Nintendo, or most retailers of your choice such as GameStop and Best Buy, for the standard $60. It doesn’t look like there will be any special or limited editions for this game, and right now no retailer is giving any pre-order bonuses, so you’re free to grab the game from wherever you like without worrying about missing out on content.
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