Thereâ€™s nothing wrong or odd about an Italian being on the cover of a Soccer game. When that Italian is wearing suspenders and a red cap however, the scenario gets somewhat bizarre. And bizarre is a great word for Mario Strikers; if you are serious about football, or even like the idea of penalties, in any sense of the word, then boy are you in the wrong place!
Mario Strikers takes a lot of inspiration from the â€˜old schoolâ€™, which is something I respect. If you grew up on NBA Jam, Nintendo World Cup or Speedball, then youâ€™ll know what Iâ€™m talking about. Rules are out! Biffo is in!!
As well as letting you tackle from behind, Mario mixes things up and lets you hammer the ball into another player, tackle players that donâ€™t have the ball and even use such items as bombs and turtle shells. If you have the ball, fear not. Everyone may be after you, but each player has a different evasive move. Bowser tucks into his shell, giving anyone tackling him a rather prickly time, and Toad summersaults through the air with ease, landing a few metres away from a now very confused opponent.
Using these evades as well as â€“ of course â€“ some well timed passing is the secret to setting yourself up with goals. As well as agility you also have the ability to power up some pretty aggressive goal kicks. Each of your sidekicks (the games are 5-on-5) will have a different charge-kick; some will set the ball on fire or electrocute the ball, but if you manage to power up your star player enough you can get some serious points. Doing this allows your player to shoot multiple balls at the goal at once. Of course, itâ€™s not easy being left alone long enough to pull one of these off. Thankfully, the defending player has a chance to block as many of these balls as they can with the Wii-remote.
The single player game has a quick start mode as well as a championship mode, but the game really comes into its own when you plug in some extra controllers. Evading a character, or laying the smack down in epic proportions just as someone was about to score a goal simply isnâ€™t the same unless there is someone to torment sitting right beside you. Multiplayer games are guaranteed to result in much laughter and taunting, just the way we at NZGamer like it!
Graphically the game looks clean and sharp. You can tell who characters are at a glance and the attention to detail on the stadiums themselves is impressive. Each stadium has specific features, such as winds so strong that cows get swept through the pitch mid-game to mix things up somewhat. All stadiums also feature electric force fields around the perimeter, which opens up more opportunities to play dirty. I would have liked a couple more character animations though, and for the super-duper-all-sorts-of-mega (my term not theirs) shots to be a bit more seamless, but you canâ€™t have everything.
At the end of the day what we have here is a Wii game thatâ€™s good enough to distract you from those fantastic old games in the virtual console. It may not be a system seller as such, but it is a quality game to add to your Wii collection. If more games like this hit the system we may have the best party machine on our hands since the N64. Bring on Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart!