"A mix of Soccer and Football that lets you take your anger out!"
Mario Strikers Charged
If you've played the first Mario Strikers, chances are that you are drooling over this one. Super Mario Strikers was released in December 2005, and in the past two and a half years, there were some serious modifications. It almost feels like the original game was just a beta test for the this one. But aside from the preqel, Strikers Charged is the real deal. The goal of the game is to... well... make goals! Just like soccer, but the way it's played out to reach victory is something more of a football esque. Your eyes are constantly moving, your always thinking of what's going to happen next, and how you can secure a safe situation in which you make a goal. In this review, I will list, in detail, all the good points and all the not-so-good parts to this game in an honest, fair, and true opinion.
I can't really grade this section because there really isn't a story at all. It's a good thing too that nintendo decided not to have one because there couldn't possibly be an explination for brutality that mario and his friends are randomly inflicting on one another. The first time I watched the intro out of the box, all I could scrape together for a story is that they are in some sort of a cult (why are the piantas and birdos throwing themselves into a live wire?). I guess they are in a tournement of some sort by why exactly is a mystery of life.
If you want to buy this game, then here is the reason why! The gameplay level is so far off the charts that it busted through the roof! These are the kinds of games that I appreciate, the ones that allow free movement in any given direction; and fast pace + flippy tricks = awesomeness! There are so many elements to cover because there are so many angles you can stratigize from.
- Charging: First and foremost, the concept of charging the ball is the most clever thing I have ever heard of... ever. The more you pass/charge pass, the brighter the color on the ball gets and faster it travels. It's so simple yet you can use in almost an infinite number of ways (well, not really). It just makes the experience all the more better when you unleash a devestating fully charged strike at the goal with a heavy character and clear the net at an eye-blinding speed.
- Tackle/Sliding: Here where the football element stabs itself into the mix. To tackle, you merely shake the wiimote side to side. This will cause your character to sacrificially throw their bodies at another character while inflicting intense pain (hence the metel armor). If the other player slams into the wall, they will be horribly electrocuted to a degree that only fictional characters could withstand. Advantages to this are that it covers a longer range unlike sliding. Disadvantages are that it is only an offensive move and won't help if you are trying to get the ball. To slide, you hit down on the D-pad, this will, in effect, do the same thing except that you slide along the floor. It cover less ground and contact with the ball, while sliding, will give you possesion.
- Megastrikes/Skillshots/Dekes: This is the section that over 80% of online players constantly abuse. Granted you can even pull these special moves off in the midst of battle, they are by far the most dangerous moves in the game. Fully charging the ball with your captain will cause a meter to appear with a needle that moves left for the number of balls shot, then right for the speed of the balls. Megastrikes are generally easy to block (even a 6 ball strike at full speed) IF you have a nack for it (talent).
Skillshots are, hands down, more usefull than megastrikes. Each of the 8 different sidekicks have their own skillshots and even unleashing one highers your goal chances by a whole lot to say the least. Some skillshots are overly abused though. Unleashing Birdo's skillshot will (literally) garantee a goal (provided no one sacrifices themselves by throwing their lifeless carcases in front of an 800 pound egg). Drybones' skillshot (literally) earases the goalie from the field of play leaving your goal completely untended.
Dekes are in the same exact boat as skillshots but are much easier to pull off. They were originally meant to be evasive tactics. To use a deke, press down on the D-pad while in posession of the ball. Everyone has their own unique dekes but some are, again, more abused than others. Drybones' and boo's dekes will (literally) allow them to teleport into the goal itself from as far away as a little past the half line. These are the kinds of things that make the game broken in any possible way due to the abusive nature toward these "cheats". You hear that all you high rank players!!? Get some skill and show me you can make a goal the old fashion way! If I wanted to win every match I played, I would slap 3 drybones on my team and admit to the world that I don't have the ability to stratigize and I have to resort to, basically, cheating to make EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY GOALS! But I'm not going to degrade myself like that and so let's move on...
- Slow-Mo Shots: These shots can only be used (from my experience) when the ball is yellow or white (the top two charge levels). They are quite challanging to pull off if you're up against and opponent who knows what they are doing. To execute them, (quickly) pass the ball from one palyer to next and shoot even before the ball is recieved, this will trigger a mini slow motion matrix-style clip of your player shooting the ball with enormous power and it substantially increases your chances of scoring; You gotta love them.
- Items: Finally! the last element of the gameplay section. Items are earned when you either fully charge the ball and shoot (as a reward) or when an opponent tackles or slides a player of yours who didn't have the ball (as compensation). Now, there are two types of items, regular ones like banana peels and shells, and the good ones like chain chomp and captain specials. Regular items aren't bad since they can help you pull off a megastrike or skillshot but they just aren't that useful in situations other than the ones stated.
Believe it or not, chain chomps are the rarest item you can get, a truly baffling phenominon since captain specials have much more potential. A chain chomp drops from the sky, hunts down and tackles the closest member of the opposing team that isn't already crippled, and cripples them for about 3 seconds; the chomp will then repeat this several times and leave. Captain specials are different thought because they are like super moves unique to each captain (except of course mario and luigi). But no matter what the captain special, there is always a way around each of them.
The graphics on the early wii games were pretty pathetic and the graphics on the future releases are none short of stunning so it is only fitting that for a mid/late release, the graphics are great at best. From far away, when the battle is persuing, the game looks amazing, but when someone scores a goal and you take a look at the replay, you won't be too quick to judge next time. Everything in the game is nicely polished and sanded to the best of nintendo's ability but there are a few jaggies here and there (mario's cap up-close anyone?). That's not to say that it's painful to look at, in fact it's above average. When nintendo starts making their in-game graphics look as good as their game intros, then we'll have something to talk about.
Another section in the game that shines! I usually don't think much about sound, but in this case, the sound effects are imperative to the overall experience. And my god, how do I begin to explain the unusually odd but fully satisfying effects that nintendo has unfathomably created. Everthing from the musical intros of each captain to the quirky noises of the skillshots, all the sounds are beautifully composed and this wouldn't be a game without them. What I mean by quirky are, for example, the sounds of shy guy and koopa's dekes; If you've ever used them, you'll know what I mean ;D Not only the sound effects, but there is an entire score of music in the game that is unique to each location. Although the menus music can get tediously repetitive so that you'll be rushing to get out of it as fast as possible, the in-game music is a little better. I would have given this section a 10 if it had not been for one little aspect that keeps bugging me. There is really not much sound while you are on the field playing out the game; if you stand still for a second and listen on some stages, there is no music at all, or just a feint tune in the background. A game needs good paced music where it counts, and that's exactly where it was taken out.
Replay Value: 7/10
"Woo-Hoo!! This game comes with online! That instantly rockets the replay value to uber awesome-osity!" Not so fast buddy, I know what you're thinking about the whole online thing and I'll get to that in a second, but right now I want to talk about the single player mode. THERE IS NO SINGLE PLAYER MODE!!! The point of single player is to provide an entertaining experience for those gamers who spend much of their gaming time playing in solitude, but the only thing you achieve in single player is unlockables for multiplayer! I don't see how that goes hand-in-hand. If you're a gamer like me who doesn't have many guests over most of the time, what are you going to do? Play online of course! But wait, that means single player basically doesn't exist anymore to gamers like us. I realize that this game is mainly multipalyer, but nintendo put SUCH little effort into single player... again.
Well now that all the sulking is over, I'd like to turn your attention toward multiplayer! *Angelic chorus plays* Yes, this is where all the replay comes in and tons of it! First of all, if you are a popularity powerhouse (unlike me) and have tons of friends who, coincidently, obsess over this game and you all have LOTS of free time (a very rare situation), then this is the party game of a lifetime and single player will actually mean something to you (unlockables), You'll have hours of fun playing in domination mode. If you have one or two friends over, you can always play that too, or you can play online with a guest. Yes, you and a friend versus the perfect stranger and a friend, kinda like a co-op mode except only 2 people can play on one console. Now, if you have no friends (like me) then you'll want to play only the online mode and nothing else; all you bought was an online game and that's it. Of course that doesn't mean that it's no fun. You'll be set up with some random opponent and duke it out with them. Afterward... you'll never see them again, something that can be quite disheartening at times. I know how we all want to meet new people online...
This has probably been the longest review I have ever written and will ever write in the future so I give myself a pat on the back. The rating is based off everything I've talked about generally put together. I took the average of all the ratings (including the overall) and I've given it an 8. As far as the time it takes to beat the single player completely, It would come to about 10 - 20 hours depending on how good you are; It's a pretty short game because, as I've said before, nintendo didn't focus much on single player at all and instead, it's the multiplayer that makes up the whole game. Through my entire experience, I've never encoutered a glitch, but that's probably because the limitations on the movement dimensions are tightly wound, providing not many oportunities to perform a glitch purposely or accidentally.
Also! This is important: I gave the overall such a low rating because, as you've probably noticed if you've played the game, It definitly takes MORE luck than skill to make a goal. Since the goalie is randomly controlled by CPU, it just takes all the skill factor out of the game. Either that or you're instantly making a goal due to the "cheap" skillshots and such that I talked about earlier. So basically, skill is half the game and the other half is chance.
Rent or Buy: Well this is going to be a "love or hate situation" since that's all you can do, love it or hate. If you're not sure but want to give it a whirl anyways, rent it first then make your dicision. If you're not sure whether to rent it or not, just do so; trust me, it's worth whatever non-existant price you have pay to rent anyway. This game is really fun and has obviously been a trademark wii game in the line-up. But in the end, it's your dicision.