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Mario Strikers: Charged Football
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Mario Strikers: Charged Football - Review
Written by James Hobbs

Mario Strikers Charged, then. The first online game to hit Wii outside of Japan, and we get it before the Americans. Before we get carried away, that isn't anything to do with Europe being appreciated for a change quite simply, 'soccer' is more popular here than it is in the land of twinkies. However, it does give us a chance to find out what online play will be like on Wii, and the hype surrounding the title's online mode has somewhat eclipsed the rest of the game itself.

Mario Strikers Screenshot
It's not just a game, not any more.
Of course, if you were one of those people who bought the game when it was released a few weeks ago, you wouldn't have had that problem the online mode barely worked. I've had possibly one of the worst online experiences imaginable with this game, with endless errors, disconnections, and a resounding inability to actually play more than 2 games without the system crashing. However, it's a few weeks on now, I've played the game to death, including online, and it's fairly safe to say that in most respects Mario Strikers Charged Football is absolutely excellent fun.

The premise of the game appears to be simple 5-a-side football, with Nintendo characters. All of the regulars make an appearance, including Mario, Luigi, and a few other surprises it's essentially Smash Brothers with a football twist. As in Smash Brothers, all of the characters play very differently, and this is they key to winning matches different tactics have to be employed against different characters in order to win.

Before you start a match, you have to choose a team captain, and then the team members themselves. Mario, for example, is a good all-rounder, whereas Wario is slow but very powerful. Fairly obvious, but the ability to choose additional team-mates alongside your chosen 'hero' makes proceedings a bit more interesting. All of them have devastating special attacks that have to be charged up, with different effects. The Hammer Brother, for example, can rain down hammers upon the goalkeeper and then slide the ball past something that is rather hard to defend against. As you play through the game it becomes apparent that strategy, technique, and timing are very important it's not merely a case of passing and scoring.

It's actually surprisingly violent, with tackles often involving electrocution, summary removal from the pitch via large objects, and the ability for main characters to stomp all over the other players with ease. Each main character has a superpower, activated by tackling other players or charging up the ball, which ranges from Waluigi's rather bizarre 'wall of terror' ( or something ) to Mario going super-size and stomping around with a silly grin on his face. Again, these powers have to be used strategically, and are devastating if used in combination with the game's other power megastrikes. Megastrikes are activated by the main character only, and if charged to the full allow the player to fly high up into the air and rain down a maximum of 6 balls upon the keeper. A small gauge requires you to time the charge to inflict the maximum speed and amount of balls, and it actually works pretty well. It's genuinely tense if you try to pull one off with hordes of opposition charging towards you, particularly in the multiplayer, and it's exciting if you do manage to charge it up.

If you do, it's up to the keeper to save your balls. If you're playing online, the screen switches to a view of the keeper's hands, controlled by the Wii remote, which have to 'save' the balls by clicking on them. It's quite hard, and if a Megastrike has been used against you well, it's incredibly tense there's an opportunity for 6 goals to be let in. The ability to see the other human player trying to catch your hard work is a great idea, and allows you to sneer at them, which is always fun. Whilst the implementation of the Megastrike isn't great ( it looks rubbish ), it's a nice addition that adds some excitement to the game, particularly in multiplayer.

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