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Mario Strikers is a series of football/soccer games developed by Next Level Games, consisting of two titles - Super Mario Strikers (GCN, 2005), and Mario Strikers Charged (Wii, 2007). Often viewed as the Darker and Edgier part of the Mario franchise - partially due to their more "rough" art style and skimpier clothing - both games were nonetheless well received by critics and fans, although Mario Strikers Charged is by far the most popular in the series.
Despite being in the Sports Game genre, the games aren't exactly your typical FIFA-style football/soccer game...it's quite common to see characters doing backflips in slow-motion, items being flung everywhere, the ball becoming encased in an egg or metallic koopa shell, characters being electrocuted by an electric fence and headbutting. Matches can be held at some stadiums with bolts of lightning casually electrocuting the players, fireballs burning them or thwomps crushing them.
As part of the Mario franchise, the series has the usual cast of characters like Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Donkey Kong ("DK") and Peach as playable captains, whereas other characters such as Birdo and Toad can be recruited as "sidekicks".
Super Mario Strikers (Mario Smash Football in Europe) introduced a lot of the fundamental gameplay aspects, such as basic passing and shooting. (Needs More Love)
Mario Strikers Charged retains nearly all of the features introduced in the prequel, but ups the ante by adding skillshots for sidekicks and the new, all-powerful megastrike for captains. For example, if Koopa charges the ball for long enough, he can release a metallic koopa shell that dazes Kritter, creating a much easier scoring opportunity. For captains, unlike the "super strike", the megastrike is a new move that fires off 3-6 balls at the opponent's goalie which, depending on how many balls are saved, can score anything between 0 and 6 goals.
There are four main modes - Road to the Striker Cup (campaign), Domination Mode (versus), Striker Challenges (missions) and Wi-Fi. Road to the Striker Cup consists of three cups, the Fire Cup, Crystal Cup and Striker Cup, with varying difficulty. Teams are first pitted against each other in a group stage, then the best teams are promoted to a knockout stage, and finally the winning team gets a shot at winning the trophy by playing the current champion in a best of 3 matches. Domination Mode, like normal versus modes, is a customised match between any two teams of your choice. Striker Challenges consists of 12 different missions, one for each captain, where you and possibly your opponent will be handicapped in some way, and will have to win the game based on certain criteria. Wi-Fi is simply a match against another human player somewhere across the world, and has a rating system similar to Nintendo's other Wi-Fi modes.
But be warned - this game can be, and will be, Nintendo Hard. The skill of the later AI difficulty levels (4 and 5) is near-perfect, and they will pull off some of the most ridiculous shots possible to win a game...however they can. The game thankfully avoids Fake Difficulty, but the skill of the AI sometimes beggars belief.
Mario Strikers contains examples of:
- Acrofatic: Wario can do backflips. Or more specifically, Wario can backflip kick a ball in mid-air at insane speed into the back of the net.
- He can also do the splits.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: Not just American, in fact. In comparison to every other Mario game out there, the artwork of the Strikers series is way more hardcore, no matter what region is your copy from.
- Asskicking Pose: The Home and Away entrances.
- Badass Princess: Daisy and even Peach are pretty Badass when they're out on the field.
- Character Class System: There are five separate "classes" for each captain and sidekick - Playmaker, Defensive, Balanced, Offensive and Power. For example, Bowser, a power character, is incredibly slow and poor at passing, but is great at tackling and amazing at shooting. Peach, a playmaker character, is the exact opposite.
- Darker and Edgier: The art style. The female captains' clothing. Headbutting players into an electric fence. Mario Strikers Charged is the only game in the Mario franchise to receive a 7+ rating. Sure, it's not exactly 18+ but hey, this is Mario we're talking about.
- Difficulty Spike: See Nintendo Hard below.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Every shot taken is always on-target; the only thing stopping it from going in is Kritter. Also, some of the skillshots introduced in Mario Strikers Charged are guaranteed goals when used correctly.
- Leitmotif: Each playable character in Charged has one.
- Limit Break: Captains in both games have a special move called a Super Strike in Super Mario Strikers and a Mega Strike in Mario Strikers Charged.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The series takes both soccer and Mario and makes it over-the-top Darker and Edgier and awesome.
- Nintendo Hard: In Mario Strikers Charged, just wait until you reach the striker cup. Then wait until you reach the knockout stage. Then attempt Yoshi's, Bowser Jr.'s or Diddy Kong's challenges. Most of the game is actually pretty easy, but the Difficulty Spike you have to overcome to reach 100% completion is absolutely insane.
- Perfect Play AI: It is truly jaw-dropping to see just how skillful the AI can get.
- Promotion To Playable: Bowser between games. In the first one, he just popped into the field randomly.
- Scenery Porn: Charged has some cool-looking stadiums.
- Scenery Gorn: It's also pretty much a post-apocalyptic Mushroom Kingdom, where in the grim dark future there is only football.
- Unblockable Attack: Again, some of the skillshots are this when used correctly.
- Victory Pose: Obviously, this is used after characters win a match.