Mario Strikers: Battle League Review
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Mario Strikers: Battle League Review

Mario Strikers: Battle League may be the most mechanically dense Mario sports game I've played. The latest Mushroom Kingdom spin on soccer looks to take the sport seriously, allowing you to juggle passes, tackle, dodge, and cancel moves as the situation demands, even before factoring in its uniquely silly Mario twists. That makes for a high skill ceiling that could conceivably give the game a long lifespan, but its potential is held back by the fact that there just isn't all that much to do.

The mechanical complexity of the game is explained back-to-back-to-back in a dizzying set of tutorials. Rather than ease you in with a few basic lessons and then teach you some field skills and then progressively ramp up throughout practical games, Mario Strikers: Battle League asks if you'd like to do the tutorial, and then delivers you all of them in a row. Just as you're getting a handle on tackling and Hyper Shots, you start getting Expert-level lessons that teach advanced techniques like canceling a charged shot or the subtle differences between a free pass and a more powerful free pass. The mechanics themselves are complex so the hefty tutorials are understandable, but it can feel a little overwhelming when it's all dropped in your lap at once.

Once you enter into the game menu, single-player opportunities to test out your newfound soccer skills are sparse. You can take part in a Quick Match, the most basic of all sports game options, or you can play in a series of four-team, double-elimination tournaments called Cup Battles. That's it. There's no distinct career mode, progression ramp, or even alternate rule sets to mix things up. It's a remarkably anemic level of options, which makes the whole affair feel slightly unfinished. Mario Strikers has a great foundation, but there isn't much to do or see inside of it.

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