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Nintendo Wii Review: Mario Strikers Charged

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The fact that the Wii has been getting so many ports has been a sore spot for many Wii owners, even though games like Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Battalion Wars 2, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl are set to come out in the next few months.

However, not every port is cause for concern. EA’s The Godfather: Blackhand Edition and Capcom’s Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition stand out as not only some of the best Wii games available, but perhaps even as improvements over their predecessors. Nintendo can finally add their name to the list with the Wii update of the Gamecube’s Super Mario Strikers, Mario Strikers Charged.

In the interests of fairness, I should perhaps state that I am indeed a fan of soccer and that I played the sport most of my youth. Still, even non-hardcore fans of the sport should have some fun with this updated Mario sports title.

Strikers Charged is as much a fast-paced, chaotic game of soccer as its predecessor was. This time around, though, the game is much more like indoor soccer in that the fields are small and contained, with a focus on offensive firepower. Power-ups like mushrooms, Koopa shells and banana peels add even more unpredictability and strategy to the title, and each captain has their own specific power-up that opens space for them to set-up a brand new feature, the Megastrike.

The Megastrike is an improvement over the Superstrike from Super Mario Strikers, in both its ease to use and goal-scoring potential. This time around, the ball will split into multiple shots when hit, with the number of shots and their power determined by a meter you control after you charge your shot. These can prove invaluable when you’re behind by multiple goals, often allowing you to catch up or take the lead. Your teammates also get their own special shots, called skillshots, which are automatically activated by charging up a shot to maximum power. You’ll be using both frequently if you want to win, especially on harder difficulties.

For the first time, the game also brings the opportunity to select your teammates, each which has their own advantages and disadvantages. Some are offensive juggernauts, while others are great defensive additions.

Strikers Charged doesn’t have a whole lot for single-players, though. There is the standard exhibition mode, as well as a set of challenges that range from easy as cake to near impossible to beat. On top of that is Road to the Strikers’ Cup mode, comprised of three tournaments in which players can take home trophies and cups, as well as unlock more characters and venues.

The game benefits slightly from the Wii remote, adding in a few new features. Key among those is the fact that when you defend against a Megastrike, you’ll take over from Kritter’s point of view. Using the Wii remote, you’ll have to stop the incoming shots in time by placing the icon over the balls and hitting the B button quickly. Also of note is the inclusion of big hits, which can be laid on opponents by shaking the Wii remote when you are near them. This is a nice alternative to slide tackling, and if done near the walls, can cause opponents to become neutralized for a few seconds, giving you an advantage.

The in-game graphics and sounds have been polished from their Gamecube predecessor, and everything looks pretty good. The characters and their animations look incredibly polished as far as Wii games go, and the Megastrike cut-scenes are great, but perhaps over-used.

There have been a ton of complaints online about some characters, namely the Hammer Bros., being “broken.” That might have been the case when people started playing this game, but that’s not the case anymore, as people are figuring out how to exploit other characters to their advantage. In the right place at the right time, every single sidekick character in this game is “broken,” as well as some of the main characters.

But guess what? Take a look at the in-game tutorial, part of which teaches you how to get around the goalie without taking a shot! It might be cheap, but it’s not cheating, folks. It’s a designed part of the game.

Speaking of online, getting online with Mario Strikers Charged isn’t too hard at all. After selecting the Wi-Fi option and your Mii, you are presented with either playing a game against a random person online or with someone off your friends list. Given the fact that on several occasions I’ve had people disconnect from games just because I’ve been winning, and because people might use different Miis, having Friend Codes isn’t as stupid as I once thought it was. Playing with friends is pretty simple once you’ve gotten their code, too, only requiring an extra minute or so of your time at most.

Mario Strikers Charged lacks the complete Wii remote functionality that a title like Wii Sports might bring, but it’s an incredibly fun time that is a good stepping stone for the bigger Wii online picture. Along with Super Paper Mario, it’s the best Wii game of 2007… well, at least until Metroid Prime 3: Corruption hits the Wii later this month.

Pros: Incredibly fun. Online capabilities are finally welcomed to the Wii with a pretty good set-up. Megastrikes and skillshots add a huge boost of offensive power. New stadiums add interesting elements to game play, like lightning or wind, into the fray.

Cons: Somewhat limited use of the Wii remote. Single player modes are still a bit limited. Addresses most, but not all of the issues from Super Mario Strikers.

Mario Strikers Charged is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Mild Cartoon Violence and Crude Humor.

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About Brian Szabelski