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Critical Reception: Nintendo's  Mario Strikers Charged
Critical Reception: Nintendo's Mario Strikers Charged
August 1, 2007 | By Danny Cowan

August 1, 2007 | By Danny Cowan
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This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to the Nintendo Wii's Mario Strikers Charged, an online multiplayer-enhanced sequel that critics are calling "a very respectable debut for Nintendo's foray into online gaming for the Wii."

As sequel to the well-received 2005 GameCube soccer title Super Mario Strikers, Mario Strikers Charged faces the critical eye of both fans of the original release and of those waiting to see how the Nintendo Wii would tackle online multiplayer gameplay. The result appears to be a success with critics thus far, with Charged currently earning a review score average of 79 out of 100, as reported by Metacritic.com.

"LongHairedOffender" at GamePro admits that Mario Strikers Charged "isn't a realistic sim [...] by any stretch of the imagination," yet awards it a full 5 out of 5 in Fun Factor.

"What Strikers Charged will do," he continues, "is convince you that soccer can be fun if it's played by a bunch of characters from the Mario universe on insane courses with outrageous power moves."

GamePro's reviewer emphasizes that Strikers Charged is a highly entertaining product overall, both in single-player mode and with friends. "The core gameplay in Mario Strikers Charged is arguably the best available on the Nintendo Wii," he praises, "and while the game succeeds most as a multiplayer experience--we defy you to invite three friends over and not have a good time with this game--it is still a total blast if you're playing by yourself because there are a number of modes to keep you thoroughly entertained and challenged."

"At the end of the day, Mario Strikers Charged is a phenomenal addition to the Wii's library and will rival GoldenEye 64 in terms of the exhilarating multiplayer experiences that it offers up," LongHairedOffender concludes. "Don't turn your nose up at it just because you don't like soccer or you'll be missing out on one of the best gaming experiences around."

Eurogamer's Richard Melville contributes a score of 8 out of 10, noting that much of Mario Strikers Charged came as a pleasant surprise. "On the face of it, Mario Strikers could be a simple football follow-up to Wii Sports. A FIFA Street for the pre-school generation," he posits. "The thing is, it's actually complex. Not complex like arranging the attack and defence pointy arrows in Pro Evolution Soccer 6 but there's more strategy here than we're used to in Mario spin-offs."

Melville explains that this complexity often arrives from sources that soccer sim fans may not expect. "The special attacks are what makes Mario Strikers all the more tactical - boos can vanish and reappear perilously close to the goal, while other characters can shock, dig and generally pummel the opposition," he says.

In addition: "The captain can unleash a Super Strike too, holding down the shoot button triggers a Super Smash Brothers style screen spasm of light and a power barometer which needs to be stopped at the right time, just like a golf game."

Melville describes how this arcade-style approach is often superior to sim-minded soccer titles: "[The goalkeeper] is where the remote comes in - the screen rotates and lets you see approaching shots through the eyes of the keeper. You direct the on screen hands and press A to make a save. It's great fun and ironically, more realistic than the simplistic hit and miss penalty shoot-outs in Pro Evolution Soccer."

"As the most original, admittedly surreal, take on the sport for years," Melville writes, "Mario Strikers is a gem of a game and manages to flawlessly meet Nintendo's brief of appealing to absolutely everybody."

Luke Van Leuveren at PALGN rates Mario Strikers Charged at 7.5 out of 10, noting that the title will be of greatest value to those who fail to see the appeal of soccer. "If you've ever thought football was a little bit boring and have compared it to watching paint dry or even cutting grass with scissors then Mario Strikers Charged is your type of football game," he asserts.

Van Leuveren spends much of his review commenting on the quality of Strikers Charged's much-touted online play. "The bad news is that the game uses friend codes," he says, though he also notes that the setup process is "remarkably simple," and players are able to join matches "rather quickly."

"Whilst we're pleased with Nintendo's online service, it is a little bit "light" on features at the moment," he adds. "There are only a few customisation options (such as skill level, series length and game type) with no options for turning off items or MegaStrikes."

"However," he continues, "the net code is sublime with very little lag and even though the friend codes return, it's very easy to jump into a game."

On the other hand, those in search of a robust single-player experience should be warned: "Since none of the single player modes are that substantial, Strikers Charged is most definitely targeted towards multiplayer gamers."

"As the first game to utilise Wi-Fi there are still improvements to be made," Van Leuveren concludes, "but overall it's a very respectable debut for Nintendo's foray into online gaming for the Wii."

Judging from critical reaction thus far, Mario Strikers Charged succeeds both in terms of gameplay and in online multiplayer implementation. Charged establishes a solid foundation for future online-enhanced Wii releases, but just as importantly, critics assert that it remains an enjoyable experience in its own right.


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