Evolving Super Mario Strikers
Super Mario Strikers for the Gamecube was a major success. Nintendo promised a sequel that would surpass the original. Living in Europe has its perks sometimes as Mario Strikers Charged Football was released first here on the old continent. Having played the game for a couple of days now, I am happy to report that Nintendo hasnít promised too much. Read on and I will tell you why.
The game makes a good impression right from the start. A nice menu shows you all the options including the much spoken of Nintendo WiFi connection. Through this you can enter the arena that will allow you to play the game with people from all over the world. Well... that is when the rest of the world catches up of course.
Power up the game!
But Iím getting ahead of myself. Even in the offline part of the game, you will be surprised at how much Mario Strikers Charged differs from its predecessor. Obviously even a fantasy soccer game such as this is all about scoring and the scoring mechanism has received a major overhaul. For starters, it is a lot more difficult to score. Instead of just passing the ball and pressing the B button to power up your shot, there are now additional ways to power up before shooting.
While powering up, the ball goes from purple to red, from red to yellow and then to white. The closer it gets to being white, the more powerful your shot will be. Passing the ball between your team members will aid you in getting the ball lit up nice and brightly. Once you are near the goal, it is wise to pass the ball along to one of your strikers; Defenders can score but your strikers are much more powerful and will add to your chances of scoring.
Each team captain has his own super ability. Donkey Kong can use the Thunder Wham ability that blows everyone around him away. This includes your own team members which can be rather distracting but still fun. The two Italian plumbers have the ability to become a Super Mario and Super Luigi which allows them to tramp over the field and knock down everyone they touch. This ability is comparable with eating a mushroom in the original Mario games. Luckily, the Kritters (the goalies) are unaffected by any of the super abilities but are not impervious to field conditions. If the weather plays up and lightning strikes, they are just as dazzled as anyone else who is near the impact.
The Megastrikes are even more fun than they were in the original, and not only because of their spectacular effects. A new action has been added to defend against these strikes that seemed unstoppable in Super Mario Strikers. When your opponent has pushed the B-button for a certain period of time, a meter appears. From this, between three and six balls are selected, as well as the speed at which they will be shot at the goal. After this, your opponent will carry out his Megastrike and a new screen pops up on which you can defend yourself against the attack. Using your Wii-mote, you control a set of gloves that -with enough speed and accuracy- will help you stop the balls before they reach your goal.
Your sidekicks aren't as weak as they used to be. They have been outfitted with new abilities and shooting styles. They are also fairly skilled in avoiding members of the opposite team. Left by their own devices, they can pretty much play the field on their own. On a whole, Nintendo took a lot of time balancing the characters and it is hard to find any specific character that is noticeably better than the others. Finding the right character for your playing style will prove much more effective than trying to find the strongest one.
Graphics for the Wii, are you kidding mii?
Nintendo wasnít fooling around when they did the graphics for Charged. Everything in the game looks crisp, lively and detailed. Even the user interface looks great. It is nice to see that the Wii finally has a title that it can be proud of! The designers really pushed the console to its graphical limits and it shows in every aspect of the game. The stadiums are rich with detail, the spectators respond to the action in the arena and believe me, they have reason to cheer. The characters are brilliantly animated and the effects that come with your actions on the field are truly a sight to behold. Everything is so spectacular that it is hard not to get distracted from the game itself.
The hottest feature of the game is undoubtedly the ability to go online with your Mii and challenge others for a battle. Due to the popularity of the game, Nintendoís network has experienced some problems but once the connection has been established, everything runs just fine. Online play offers several different modes. My favorite mode is the random challenge against other people. Chances are that you are not the only person looking for an opponent and there is always someone willing to be your next opponent. This is truly a fun option that will get you right into the action with minimal waiting time. As you win you will gain rank and the server will try and find opponents that match your rank so that your opponents will always be challenging.
Mario Strikers Charged Football is one of those games that will make you love your Wii. It is fresh, fun and packed to the brim with all sorts of fantastic action. Playing it online is a dream come true for all who played the original game and a huge step forward for Nintendo. Much like Mario Kart for the DS doesnít just cater to fans of arcade racers, Mario Strikers Charged doesnít just cater to football fans. Anyone can play and enjoy this and so should you: go buy it, now!
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