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Mario Strikers: Battle League gives Mario’s soccer series a powerful jolt of personality

Brand-new Striker Club mode looks like a major online draw

Peach, Toad, Mario, and Luigi stand ready to play soccer in a still from Mario Strikers: Battle League Image: Next Level Games/Nintendo
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

After a 15-year break, Mario and friends are headed back to the pitch for more full-contact, over-the-top soccer-style action. Mario Strikers: Battle League, coming June 10 to Nintendo Switch, intensifies the soccer-like game of Strike with new super moves, equippable gear, and an online Strikers Club mode that will let players build and grow a club that works, more or less, like real-world soccer.

Mario Strikers: Battle League brings back Mario sports game veterans like Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Toad, Wario, and Waluigi, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. (Nintendo says more characters will be added for free over time, a la Mario Tennis Aces and Mario Golf: Super Rush.) Players will be able to customize all of the Mushroom Kingdom’s jocks with unlockable gear. Each item, which spans protective gear for the head, body, arms, and legs, can boost a character’s attributes, often with some trade-offs for balance.

Gear is purchased with in-game coins doled out as post-match rewards and can be worn in all of Mario Strikers: Battle League’s game modes.

Mario Strikers: Battle League’s gear menu, showing Mario wearing a Muscle Helmet that boosts his strength but lowers his technique score. Image: Next Level Games/Nintendo

Nintendo showed off those game modes during a recent presentation viewed by Polygon. They include Quick Battle, a jump-in-and-play option for 1-8 players, online or offline; Cup Battle, a local play option for 1-4 players that includes tournaments against computer-controlled opponents; and Strikers Club mode, a new, online-only feature where players can form clubs, compete with others, and pool their resources to customize their club.

Representatives for Nintendo say Strikers Club will function similarly to real-world soccer clubs, with divisions and seasons, where players will compete to score points in the hopes of being promoted to higher divisions (or risk falling into lower-ranking ones). As part of a club, players can join up with friends and teammates to take on rival clubs, earning tokens that let them personalize their Striker Club.

Mario Strikers: Battle League’s club personalization looks to give players a strong sense of identity. Using the tokens that a club’s members earn in competition, club owners can customize their stadium, from field to fences, with a theme (such as Mushroom Hill, Lava Castle, Jungle Retreat, etc.), add stadium decorations, and choose uniforms and logos. Those decorative perks will be visible to other teams; multiplayer matches will be played in stadiums decorated with both teams’ customizations, a sort of half-and-half, home-and-away mashup of their styles.

A screenshot of Mario Strikers: Battle League showing Luigi unleashing a tornado on Boom Boom the goalie. Image: Next Level Games/Nintendo

Personality is strewn throughout Mario Strikers: Battle League, thanks to its colorful cast of (familiar) characters and their Hyper Strike moves. These powered-up skill shots include Luigi’s ability to summon a massive green tornado on the pitch, Bowser setting the Strike ball on fire with his flame breath, and Wario butt-stomping the ball with such force as to turn it into an electrified pinball. Battle League features some incredibly expressive animations for characters like Peach, Toad, and Waluigi, the latter of whom is easily at his most extra in Nintendo’s new soccer game.

Nintendo representatives confirmed that Mario Strikers: Battle League owners will get multiple post-launch drops of characters and other unspecified content in free updates. Prospective players can also try the game out before it launches, thanks to a light demo version of Mario Strikers: Battle League for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. While it sounds like that demo will mostly introduce players to the mechanics of Strike, there will be set times for players to compete against each other in online multiplayer.

For now, Nintendo’s recent overview video for Mario Strikers: Battle League offers plenty of detail for Switch owners considering diving in.

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