I’m a huge soccer fan, and bought my Nintendo Switch primarily to play Mario games (as well as Breath of the Wild, of course!). Naturally I’ve been keeping my fingers tightly crossed for a new game in the Mario Strikers series for years.
This week, my wish came true. During the latest Nintendo Direct, the company unveiled Mario Strikers Battle League. The third game in the franchise, and the first since Mario Strikers Charged on the Nintendo Wii back in 2007, Mario and pals are long overdue for a return to the pitch.
Initially, the reveal had me knee sliding across my living room like I’d just scored the deciding goal in a World Cup final. But as the game’s announcement trailer continued, I started to feel more and more uneasy. Mario Strikers Battle League looks like it’s learning all the wrong lessons from juggernaut soccer game FIFA.
Furthermore, when you consider the recent underwhelming Mario sports titles, there are plenty of reasons to be worried about this one. Here’s why I’m approaching Mario Strikers Battle League with a degree of skepticism rather than feverish anticipation.
Mario Strikers Battle League looks online-centric
If you watch the announcement trailer for Mario Strikers Battle League, you might notice that there’s a heavy focus on the game’s online functionality.
After a CGI introduction, the trailer showcases some gameplay, explains the new gear and hyper strike systems, and then reveals a suite of online modes, including local matches and a club mode for up to 20 players.
I’m also a longtime FIFA player. While I really like FIFA 22, there’s no denying that EA has neglected its single-player components in favor of online modes. I already suspect that Mario Strikers Battle League will be similar.
The game's first trailer makes no mention of a single-player campaign. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Nintendo won’t reveal anything meaty for offline players at a later date. However, so far, the company has highlighted only the game's online aspects, which would suggest that they're the primary focus.
Mario’s questionable sports games
I can probably make my peace with Mario Strikers Battle League being a primarily online experience. There's a chance I’ll get sucked into the club mode and end up creating a soccer dynasty! However, what really concerns me about the new Mario Strikers is the plumber's recent sporting excursions.
The Switch has already seen new entries in the Mario Tennis and Mario Golf series. Both have suffered from the exact same problem: a lack of content.
Last year’s Mario Golf Super Rush was particularly guilty of this, as the game launched with a pitiful six courses. Granted, Nintendo has added a handful more via free updates since then. Nevertheless, everything from the menu design to the virtually nonexistent customization options felt barebones.
Mario Golf Super Rush and Mario Tennis Aces did at least include single-player career modes, but both felt like little more than glorified tutorials. Once you’d breezed through them in a couple of hours, there was little else to keep solo players returning to either game.
That’s my current concern about Mario Strikers Battle League. It might launch with the bare minimum amount of content, then get patched into a slightly more acceptable state later.
If I can use a sporting analogy, Nintendo already has two strikes. I’m really hoping that Mario Strikers Battle League doesn’t result in a third.
Nintendo also has a recent worrying games trend we spotted with the Nintendo Sports Switch.
Meanwhile, in other Nintendo news, the Super Mario Movie has just been delayed into 2023.