Geek Review - Mario Strikers Battle League

Geek Review – Mario Strikers: Battle League

Nintendo and its sports games have generally provided players with unforgettable experiences that go beyond a simulation, throwing in bells and whistles like fully fleshed out story modes and multiplayer fun that has that signature charm. That has not been the case recently, with both Mario Tennis Aces and Mario Golf: Super Rush failing to reach the heights of old, and that malaise continues with Next Level GamesMario Strikers: Battle League, the Japanese giant take on football (that’s soccer to you American readers), albeit in a more palatable manner on the Nintendo Switch.

Geek Review - Mario Strikers Battle League - On-field action

Pitting teams of three outfield players and a goalkeeper against each other, the best part of Mario Strikers: Battle League are the matches themselves. The simulation might not be on the levels of FIFA 22, but it works beautifully within the constraints. Players can choose to make up their team from 10 different characters – Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Peach, Rosalina, Toad, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Wario, and Waluigi – each boasting different stats.

Some are better at shooting, some are faster, while the bigger size of the likes of Bowser and Donkey Kong affords them more strength and provides a tactical choice for players since they cannot be knocked down by normal tackles. Taking to the pitch, teams will engage in short matches, enhanced by familiar Mario items like Blue and Red Shells, as well as a variety of moves to master.

Passing, shooting, tackling, and everything else one would associate with the sport can be done with a simple button press, but Mario Strikers: Battle League features complexity that will definitely give it more of a chance to shine competitively for players who want to pursue that. Timing it right results in perfect passes and shots, while doing the same for tackles will send your opponents flying while you retain the ball. There are options for through passes both on and off the ground, adding further strategic layers to the game. 

Should you find yourself in possession of a glowing Strike Orb, the different characters can unleash their version of a Hyper Strike on goal. Master the timing, and you are guaranteed flashy animation and two goals instead of one, make a mistake and the chance for the opposition to block it arises. Each of the Hyper Strike also causes different effects as the ball travels towards the goal, creating more opportunities for chaos. 

For example, Rosalina’s Orbital Burst freezes any opponent caught in its path, while Luigi’s Spin Tornado incapacitate opponents by spinning them into the air before hitting the goalkeeper. Together with the random items that get thrown onto the field by the crowd, the push and pull of every match in Mario Strikers: Battle League gets even more chaotic and entertaining.

That is, if you are playing someone else or on higher AI difficulties. The default skill level of the opponents leaves much to be desired, and within the small confines of the different arenas, the three versus three gameplay tends to be slightly unbalanced. One mistake in the middle of the park can lead to a prime scoring chance for either team, and there doesn’t seem to be enough room for players to recover from such mistakes. 

Geek Review - Mario Strikers Battle League - Gear

The argument might be that it is exactly the case for real-life football, but that is within the context that it is a team sport that features more players on a much larger field. In Mario Strikers: Battle League, possession changes hands way too quickly, and it is not rare to see high scoring matches due to the fact. For those that can rise above the basics of the game, the single-player portion will hold little challenge or draw, and can become repetitive without a proper story mode to keep things interesting.

Even with six different cups of varying team configurations to power through, it does not feel like there is enough for players looking to enjoy the game on their own. 

On the multiplayer side of things, Mario Strikers: Battle League allows for eight players to duke it out both locally and online, and those affairs tend to pan out more satisfyingly. With no teams willing to concede space or risk too much, it becomes a tug-of-war to see who is willing to take the risk to win the match. Having friends around for the cups also add to the fun.

Unfortunately, the online portion of the game remains untested during the review period, and it holds what could be the trump card of Mario Strikers: Battle League. Strikers Club sees players band together in clubs, competing against rival organisations to earn points and bragging rights. Not only can you customise your own striker to fit your play style, but it also matters in a team configuration, plus, the option to put your own mark on the stadium is also an alluring tease.

Geek Review - Mario Strikers Battle League - Hyper Strike

Speaking of customisation, each of the characters in the game can be further upgraded using gear. However, do not expect a strong progression system because players can spend the coins earned by winning on only five options per category, with each gear piece bringing a boost to one stat while reducing another. 

This tradeoff doesn’t necessarily make for balanced teams, as you will either end up with characters that are jack of all trades, or specialised ones that are only useful in certain situations. It is not the perfect customisation system, and there will hopefully be more work done to expand upon it. 

And that is the crux of the entire Mario Strikers: Battle League experience. While the core gameplay is solid and the game looks awesome, everything else surrounding it seems to need more work. Whether Nintendo and Next Level Games will do so remains a burning question, and it would be a waste to see the potential of Strikers Club be, well, wasted. 

For now, even with the excellence shown on the field and that lovable Nintendo charm, it is hard to see Mario Strikers: Battle League as anything more than a game that just doesn’t have legs. In this case, the game was lost even before a ball was kicked, and might see a muted response from eager fans around the world.



Another sports game that attempts to deliver on the biggest stage, Mario Strikers: Battle League joins the rest of the modern titles that could have shone brightly on the world’s stage.

  • Gameplay - 7.5/10
  • Presentation - 8/10
  • Value - 6.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 6/10