I am so disappointed by Mario Strikers: Battle League. I’m so thankful that I borrowed this from the library and didn’t actually spend any of my hard earned money for this game.
This game starts with such promise. The training mode shows all kinds of cool skills that could theoretically raise the skill ceiling and make this such a great experience. There’s a limited number of characters in the game, but the gear they include allow you to tweak their stats to tailor to your game play style. The stat changes provided by gear is net-zero though, every point added to a stat takes away and equal number of points from another stat, so there isn’t a good reason to dive into it unless you specifically want to make a character over powered in a single stat at the cost of all the others. It’s not an interesting, exciting, or engaging aspect of the game.
No story or challenge mode?
The first round of cups are fairly easy, but fun. Each cup pits you against teams that specifically focuses on one of the 5 stats (strength, speed, shooting, passing, and technique), and the last cup is the “best all around teams”. I should mention, each game is 4 minutes long, and it’s a double elimination tournament with 4 teams. Assuming you don’t lose any games, you’ll finish a cup after only 12 minutes of game play. Of course, it takes a bit longer than 12 minutes with the Hyper Strike animations (which are gorgeous, but repetitive), and the highlight reels, if you choose to watch those.
After beating all the cup battles, you unlock ‘Galactic Mode’, which raises the difficulty significantly. Unfortunately this is where the game breaks down for me. All the opponent AIs are brutal and violent. They’re constantly tackling all of your characters, and are adept at intercepting passes. As a consolation prize for getting tackled when you don’t have the ball, you get an item, which is useful. However, because all four of the opponent AI are turned way up, it highlights how absolutely brain-dead your AI controlled team-mates are. It wasn’t uncommon after two passes for all four of my characters to be tackled, leaving the opposition with a clear shot on my goal. It’s also not uncommon for your teammates to just stand around when you have the ball, not getting clear from the opponents, giving you no opportunity to pass without just handing over the ball.
Mario Strikers Battle League seemingly wants you to control all 4 of your characters together, but doesn’t give you options to do so. The change character button doesn’t cycle through all the characters, but swaps between the two characters that are closest to the ball. When I finally beat all 6 Galactic Cup tournaments, I wasn’t filled with pride. I felt hollow. Empty in my heart where my rage and frustration had been sitting for the last hour. Never did I feel like it was my skill that won the Galactic Cups, just luck. I got the right items at the right time, happened to get a break away, and the same charged shot that had been blocked before now just happens to go into the net.
I pine for the previous games. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of my youth, but I remember these games being properly difficult. Where when I lost I wasn’t mad at the AI, but knew that it was my own lack of skill that lost the game. That feeling pushes me to get better, and when I finally overcome the challenge, I’m elated. In Battle League, it’s just frustration and luck.
I’ve won, but I feel empty
What about unlocks? As I said above, once you beat the first 6 cups, you unlock the Galactic Mode, and you unlock the Bushido Armor for each character. Again, Gear is a weak unlock, as it’s a zero-sum benefit.
After you beat each Galactic Mode cup, your only reward is the palette swapped trophy. No new armor, no recognition, and no further game play to explore. Sure, there’s the online mode where you can play against people online, but that’s doesn’t count as content in my eyes. Mario Strikers: Battle League as it stands now, can be completed in 3 to 5 hours of game play. Banging your head against the wall of unfair difficulty can pad out the game time, but it still only took me a total of 5 hours to beat every cup twice cups and explore ALL that this game has to offer solo players, which frankly, is unacceptable.
Actually, doing the math, if I wanted to unlock all the gear for all the characters, I’d need 32,000 coins. So, I technically could keep grinding out matches until I earn enough currency to do so, but AGAIN, gear is nearly pointless. Why even bother?
I feel you, Yoshi
My recommendation: Rent or borrow if you’re really interested. There is not enough content to warrant paying full price, and after just a few hours I’m sure you’ll be hanging up your cleats to do anything else.