A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
No specific messages within the game, although the game promotes competition and perseverance to succeed at a sport to become the best over other teams.
Positive Role Models
No character development, apart from acquiring new pieces of gear. While it includes characters that are traditionally "good" or "bad" as players, they're all competing to help their team defeat their opponents, regardless of who they're playing against.
Mix of male, female, and creatures that build out the roster of playable athletes. All characters have various talents and abilities on the pitch, and all are equally capable of leading a team to victory.
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Ease of Play
Gameplay initially is easy to grasp, with mechanics for passing, shooting, tackling, and charging up shots. While there are multiple difficulty settings in solo play, challenge in matches comes in a few different areas. Timing your tackles of opponents to steal the ball, or your combo timing for shots and passes, can be tricky to learn. Hyper Strike timing windows (for unique character-driven shots at the goal) are very small and can be hard to see, whether you're playing handheld or on a larger screen. Players will face stronger teams as they complete cup tournaments, and there's no way to prevent very skilled players from going up against novices in multiplayer, which can lead to unbalanced games.
Violence & Scariness
Players kick, punch, leap, smash into opponents, and launch them into fences on the sides of arenas, causing their targets to be shocked for a brief amount of time. Players can also toss shells to batter enemies, banana peels to trip them up, or bombs to blast them. Hyper Strikes can sweep players up in cyclones, freeze rivals, or set them on fire, among other effects. No blood or gore shown.
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Products & Purchases
Brings in characters from a number of games in the Mario franchise, such as Wario, Donkey Kong, and Rosalina, which could get players interested in playing (or replaying) those games.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mario Strikers: Battle League is a sports game exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Players take to the soccer pitch with their team to attempt to defeat their opponents, using their charged-up shots, power-ups, and good aim to score goals. Players kick, punch, charge, and toss rival players into the air to steal the ball, which can sometimes result in characters being tossed into electric barriers surrounding the field. When this happens, players are shocked for a few seconds. Players can also toss shells, bombs, or banana peels to trip up rivals. Hyper Strikes (which are powered-up shots at the goal) can also freeze players, set players on fire, or throw players around, although no blood or gore is shown as a result. Otherwise, there's nothing inappropriate to be found in the game. There's a challenge to the gameplay, particularly around the timing of your passes and shots to get combos perfectly set up. Players will often be set up against other gamers who aren't on their same level skill-wise, which can result in massively unbalanced games.
Is It Any Good?
While this cartoonish soccer game is fun in short bursts, its repetitive gameplay can wear thin even if you're a fan of multiplayer. Mario Strikers: Battle League is a cartoonish take on 5v5 soccer matches, with a lot of fast-paced chaos taking over the pitch. Players will frequently tear up the field with explosions, blasts of fire, or vines made of energy as they maneuver their players into position to take a shot on goal. Thanks to the surprisingly strong defense of the computer-controlled goalies that stop most basic shot attempts without breaking a sweat, players have more time to focus on getting the ball, setting up the perfect shot, and trying their best to blast the ball into the back of the net while avoiding incoming attacks from opponents. In fact, the back-and-forth chaos of passing and stealing the ball from opponents, tossing out items to sabotage opponents, and having a match come down to a last-second score can be an exhilarating close to a hard-fought game.
Unfortunately, Battle League doesn't really have enough to fully keep your attention for long. Players can tear through the Cups tournament in a matter of hours, which will provide them with coins to unlock gear, but that's the "deepest" portion of play. There's no story behind playing each game, no additional items or characters that are unlocked, and no seasonal play apart from the Striker's Club league matches, which are just ways to get players to keep playing online matches against other people. Apart from that, this is a game that you're going to pick up and play in limited bursts, probably with friends or family members for an hour or so if you're not interested in league play. That leads to another issue, which is that online play can be wildly unbalanced and can't be limited to skill levels. You could be paired up with a newcomer that's getting used to the controls, or a veteran that wipes the floor with you – there's no in-between, which limits the fun significantly. Finally, while scoring Hyper Strikes can be a lot of fun, the timing for the gauges can be tricky to see thanks to the camera zoom on the power meter, regardless of whether you're playing in handheld or docked mode. That may cause you to miss more shots than you'd expect, which can limit the number of attempts you make until you master the timing. If you can put up with these issues, Mario Strikers can be a fun way to play soccer. Just don't expect that you'll keep playing it for multiple hours in a row.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.