Nintendo Switch Review: Mario Strikers: Battle League Football

Does Mario’s latest game score an own goal or a hat-trick?

Tackle, pass, and score in battle soccer with the Mushroom Kingdom gang. Introducing Strike, a 5-on-5, soccer-like sport with no rules—do whatever it takes to win! Get gritty and try to score the most goals by tackling enemies, using items, and pulling off score-boosting special shots. Super Mario series mainstays like Peach, Toad, and Yoshi put their cleats (and stats) to the pitch and will stop at nothing to score. Customize your characters with gear that can augment their stats and appearance. Take the carnage online or pass the ball to players locally—just look out for the electric fence.

Mario Strikers is a bit different from your normal football games like FIFA, there’s no offside, corners, fouls or penalty kicks and goals scored from a special move count for 2 goals. It’s no-holds barred madness from kick-off to the final whistle and its definitely something special.

You can choose your own team to take on in tournaments both online and offline, as well as trying to win cups against AI. There is a surprising amount of technicality to the game’s mechanics and learning how to master them will take some time, I personally was overwhelmed at first but once I got the moves down, I was ready to start giving players a good match.

Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, players like Mario are quick but can get mowed down easily by heavy characters like Donkey Kong, Wario and Bowser, but the reverse is also in effect, so DK/Bowser/Wario are slow, but tackles need to be fully charged to take the ball from them. Matches also give power ups to use on the pitch, such as throwing bananas or power-ups that give you superspeed.

Finding the right balance of players is a tough call but ultimately it depends on what style of football you prefer, either attack or defence and counterattack. If there’s any criticism to be had here, it’s that besides the tournaments there isn’t all that much to do…there’s no Story Mode like that of Mario Tennis Aces or Mario Golf: Super Rush, nor is there unlockable characters and personally, I was hoping for a bigger roster of characters and the lack of Daisy hasn’t gone down well with Mario fans.

On the plus side, the visuals and performance of Mario Strikers are superb. The animations for each player are well animated and vibrant, while running at a solid framerate throughout. Load times were short, even for online which was impressive overall.

The Verdict

Mario Strikers: Battle League Football is a solid 5-on-5 variant of football, but the lack of content besides tournaments and online/offline play plus a small roster of characters definitely holds back what the game could accomplish. It’s good fun overall though and will please footy fans, its just frustrating that it could have been something even greater with a bit of extra content.

Score: 8.0