Genre: Sports
Year: 2007
Developed by: Next Level Games
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: Wii
Feeling Like: Red Shells instead of Red Cards

It’s funny going from Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons to Mario Strikers Charged and it reveals the silliness of the 500 in general.

With Brothers you had this small, quiet, beautiful little game that relied entirely on narrative and gameplay to provide one of the best stories told in gaming history.

Mario Strikers Charged, on the other hand, is like a crowded bar that gradually bursts into song when only half the patrons know the lyrics and the other half think they’re good singers when they obviously aren’t.

There’s no pretense here. It’s good old fashioned arcade soccer, in the style that only Mario games that can provide. There aren’t any advanced tactics or subtle plays. You bodycheck your enemies into force fields, avoid bombs on the pitch and use your super charged kick to score goals from impossible angles.

This came out for the Wii, so the controls aren’t the highlight. I never really got used to the nunchuk + wiimote combo though defending against ultra moves was a nice touch; using the motion controls, you’re given goalie gloves and have to stop the onslaught of shots. Everything seemed fine, until Matt and I went up against Petey Piranha who is a dirty, cheating jerk. I don’t we beat him once.

It’s so easy to pick up and play. You move, you pass, you shoot. You slide, you tackle, you power up. That’s the extent of it. The field is small so even with rocks protruding up from the Earth, the chaos on the field is visually manageable. A few quick passes and a shot can take the ball from your own goalie into the back of the opposition’s net in a flash. Every moment is exciting and that’s truly the strength of Mario Strikers Charged.

That and the multiplayer – without it, it wouldn’t be nearly this high on the 500.

In the rare instance where we could nab two other willing participants, the game is totally different. No more controlling when your AI teammates pass you the ball, it’s your fellow couch-sitters you have to communicate with. Positioning may be an advantage, but only if everybody takes responsibility for their own space and aren’t just hungry for goals. Since counter-attacks are lightning quick, you can easily find yourself on the wrong end of an offensive burst by the CPU. It does feel borderline unfair at times, the super moves will be used by the AI against you at crucial times. There aren’t any blue shells, but when you’re up a few goals with little time to spare, it does seem that the system gets a bit of a rubber band boost.

Or it could be that we consistently buckled under pressure.

I wish I could provide a deeper analysis, but brain-dead fun is still fun. Shooting with my boy MOLEY MOLEY or slide tackling an enemy on a breakaway is as simple as it is satisfying. There’s no red cards, there are enough environmental dangers that it almost lends itself to platforming as much as sports and that’s what a good arcade style soccer game should be in my eyes.

Thankfully, Matt was able to provide his insight 🙂


The thing to know about me is that I’m not much of a gamer. Sure, I played video games growing up as a kid, and to a lesser extent in college, but it was very heavily weighted towards the big sports franchises and the side-scrolling Mario games. And SNES Mario Kart. So much SNES Mario Kart.

So while I didn’t play many games, perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising that a combination sports/Mario-themed game was able to capture my attention so much. Enter Mario Strikers Charged. It’s almost kind of hard to imagine today, with the combination of proliferation of online gaming and the recent isolation forced by the pandemic, that people used to physically get together to play video games. And, importantly and relevant to this topic, the original Nintendo Wii really seemed to find lightning in a bottle early in its run, getting a ton of traction with the non-gaming audience thanks to its innovative motion-based system. Wii Sports tournaments among friends were really common for the 20-somethings group.

Wii Sports was my proverbial gateway drug into Mario Strikers. I was oblivious to it of course until Henry fired it up at his place one day and there was just something about the combination of the familiar characters, the individual specialization, the intuitive game play and the teamwork dynamic that just seized my attention. I probably bought my own copy of the game later that day. Thinking about it now, Strikers is probably the last game that I ever stayed up later than I should cursing at every inconvenience or bad break.

In the weeks and months that would follow I played a lot alone at home, or at Henry’s with whoever else was around. Unsurprisingly, we had a lot of success playing that much of the game. Everyone settles into the favourite character or two and has a great time yelling out random things when they manage to hit their big Charged shot.

But we weren’t without our rival. Fucking Petey Piranha. I still hate that mutant plant. He was so good. And mean, especially for an overgrown bit of foliage. You’d think things were going well and he’d just whammo you out of nowhere and it would be lights out. But every game needs a credible foil to be worth the journey. But this relationship was more Apollo Creed/Ivan Drago than rivals Rocky and Apollo who become buddies. There was no quarter to be given to Petey. You can’t trust a plant willing to go so far to win a game. You still can’t.

At the end of the day, games are games. There are hundreds of games which are better designed, have smarter plots, sold more copies, etc. But Mario Strikers on the Wii created a memorable impact for me. And that’s the mark of a successful game.

(Matt’s writeup finished)

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

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