It’s been nearly 40 years since Nintendo introduced us to Mario. After saving Pauline from Donkey Kong's clutches, our favourite Italian plumber's had countless adventures, many seeing him flexing those athletic muscles. Most remember Mario's Olympic shenanigans but he's taken aim at golf, tennis, baseball, basketball, and even snowboarding, gaining quite the social reputation.
That's going strong on Switch too, with Mario Golf: Super Rush arriving next month. It's a welcome return to the fairways, but if there's any sub-series in need of revival, that's Super Mario Strikers. Known as Mario Smash Football in Europe and developed by Next Level Games, it first arrived on Gamecube in 2005 but truly found it's stride on the Wii, when Nintendo released Mario Strikers Charged Football two years later.
Forget FIFA, What We Really Need Is A New Super Mario Strikers Game
Offering an arcade approach to the beautiful game, Strikers couldn't be further apart from FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer. Playing in five-a-side teams, you'd choose a team captain from one of Super Mario's more iconic faces, alongside three sidekicks and a Kritter as your goalkeeper. Passing between teammates was key, building up powerful shots with each pass. Should you launch a charged shot as your captain, you'd activate a charge meter, potentially scoring up to 6 goals in one hit.
If you think that's unfair, you may not be pleased to learn there's no referees, either. Want to launch the dirtiest tackle at an opponent? Go ahead, no one will stop you, though that does award your foe with items as a consequence. Taking a Mario Kart-esque approach, these ranged from innocent banana peels to tactical bob-omb strikes, letting players turn stadiums into a borderline war zone. Calling it chaotic doesn't quite do this premise justice.
Admittedly, the single player campaign wasn't much to write home about. Like many sports entries, we got a standard tournament mode that lacked significant depth, but Strikers truly shines in multiplayer. Supporting up to four players, you could band together as one team against the AI, gang up against a particular friend in 1v3 matches, go for that classic 1v1, and more.
It's been 14 years now since it released. While other sporting spin-offs have come and gone, they never captured that same magic like Strikers. Considering Nintendo acquired Next Level Games several months back, I'd absolutely love to see this sub-series given a new chance on Switch.