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Mario Strikers Charged Football Review

Forget the back of the net- this one needs to be in your Wii

Never be too quick to judge - that's our motto in life. In the case of Mario Strikers Charged Football it would be a particularly apt adage, simply because a quick glance at the game would suggest little has changed since its predecessor, Mario Smash Football. And yet that couldn't be further from the truth. Well, kind of. If you need something for comparison, it's like buying two different models of the same car a couple of years apart. They might look relatively similar, but it's under the bonnet amongst all the cogs and pistons that the changes have taken place. The same principle goes for Next Level Games' latest effort.

Granted, the fact that Strikers (as we'll call it for the sake of space) is based on a sport with fixed concepts that can't be changed without distorting it utterly doesn't help to give the impression of improvement. Keeping the game recognisable as 'football' in the loosest possible sense requires the obvious: two goals, two keepers, and a ball chased by a number of players trying to get their hands, or rather feet, on it.

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Having realised that it's never going to change the fundamentals of football, Next Level Games has spent all its time reworking, revamping and, most importantly, revitalising many ideas from the last Mario soccer title. The result? A game that, while familiar and easy to pick up, has so much intricacy that you'll be discovering new tricks for months to come.

Of course, how quickly you spot all of the improvements depends on how hard you choose to look. Take the considerably enhanced visuals, for instance, that actually take some effort to notice because they're all rather subtle. At a distance, it looks as though little has changed but once you start picking up on the increased animation for each character, the enhanced player detail and the various lighting effects, there's plenty to drool over. The stadiums have been polished substantially, and whether you're playing one of the 'classic' pitches from the last game or any of the new (and highly dangerous) arenas, everything looks better than it did last time out.

Other changes, not surprisingly, are easier to notice. You want a refreshed line-up of team captains to play as? Consider it done, with 12 characters available for selection, including the new choice of Bowser and three unlockable captains: Diddy Kong, Bowser Jr and the rather bizarre option of Petey Piranha.

Perhaps more important, however, are the improvements made to the sidekicks. Not only are there twice as many of them as before (with the new faces including Dry Bones, Boo, Monty Mole and Shy Guy), but you can now pick which three sidekicks you have on your team. As each has their own stats and abilities, the opportunity to tailor your team's skills to your own style of play is a huge bonus.

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Power To The Players

On the pitch, the refinement of the sidekick system continues with each one having their own unique special moves, similar to the almighty Mega Strike that the captains can use. Adding some much needed strategy to the action, as well as many more goal-scoring opportunities, this system works really well. Whether you like taking out the goalkeeper then smashing the ball into the net on the rebound, breaking into space before hammering the ball home or sneaking shots in when your opponent least expects it, there's something for you.

Some moves feel slightly overpowered (Birdo's Egg Blast shot was hideously abused when we played online) but they're all as stoppable as they are powerful - if you know what you're doing, that is.

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9 comments so far...
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  1. Gaming 98 Monday 21st Apr 2008 at 22:12

    This game is rather good, except for the insane difficulty level that drives me mad...

  2. m4r1o0 Sunday 29th Jun 2008 at 16:14

    Ian Wright, are you really out there playing this with your son, please PM me if you are.
    Anyway, this has probably got the best on-line mode ever, apart from Mario kart, I am really Quite bad at it though, really! :!:

  3. Elfman supa dood Friday 24th Oct 2008 at 18:52

    I think this game is awesome! Even though i don't own it myself. :( My friend does though and whenever i go over his house we play on it for ages. :D

    This game rocks amd worth buying!

  4. Elfman supa dood Friday 24th Oct 2008 at 18:55

    This game is awesome! Even though i don't have it myself :( my friend does and whenever i go round his we play on it for ages!!!! :D

    This game is legendary and is undeniably worth buying :!: :D :D :D :D

  5. Tris Tuesday 16th Jun 2009 at 10:53

    This game rulleess!

    When you start getting profiecent you can pull of some mad tricks (I don't mean megastrikes!) They often invole lots of bouncing off the walls by the goal, and they bring a whole new strategy to the game. Defending against them takes alot of skill, and yes,You can do tricks because it's... :roll: glitchy..

    That makes it all the more fun! Such a shame to see it in the bargain buckets, if you see it, get it!

    95% from me, mainly because of the insane replay value, I played this for over a year..

  6. Ai64 Saturday 1st Aug 2009 at 16:06

    It gets harder but it gets so intense! This is proper mario football.

  7. mantisboy1 Saturday 12th Sep 2009 at 14:33

    I really love this game.

  8. Mart2006 Monday 17th May 2010 at 16:04

    Being hard later on isn't necessarily a bad thing. With it starting off fairly easy, you have time to learn all the tips and tricks, and by the time you have learned them, the difficulty is racking up to give you more of a challenge. If the highest difficulty was Superstar, then the game wouldn't last no where near as long as it does.

  9. thundercat96 Tuesday 14th Dec 2010 at 19:22

    I think this game is slightly overrated :( Whilst the game has awesome visuals and high intensity, I think it can get a bit frustrating, especially in Sudden Death mode. I think it's a bit harsh to be drawing 0-0 in Sudden Death then your opponent goes and scores! They should have draws where each team gets a point each, and I think that it should me moe like real life footy! :( And the extreme difficulty gets really annoying when you keep losing in the last few seconds.
    :o Anyway, the game is great! :D But the megastrikes I think are unessecarily overused! :x So I'm gonna give it 82% :D :D

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