Mario sports titles have been a mainstay on Nintendo systems since the beginning. From cameo appearances in games like Punch-Out!! to being playable characters in NES Open Tournament Golf, the legacy of Mario entering the sporting realm is long and varied. Throughout all of his various athletic forays, my personal favorite came in 2005 when Next Level Games tossed the plumber and his friends onto the football field. Called Super Mario Strikers (or Mario Smash Football in Europe), the GameCube original was a largely faithful adaptation of football and Nintendo needs to make another one.
Aside from allowing physical contact, one key differentiator was that players could pick up items ranging from speed boosting mushrooms to Koopa shells that could be shot at enemies in order to make an open lane. Of course, it was also possible for more competitive players to play a more standardized version of “the beautiful game” by turning off the items. No matter your skill level or intent, anyone could wind up having a good time in Strikers.
Considering the fact that football or soccer is the most popular sport in the world and Mario is the most iconic brand in all of gaming, it’s not a surprise that Super Mario Strikers wound up being a commercial success. The original game sold over 1.6 million copies on GameCube, and its Wii sequel, Mario Strikers Charged managed to sell even more copies when it released in 2007. Despite these impressive numbers, a new entry in the series wasn’t made for either Nintendo 3DS or Wii U. With a decade out of the spotlight, it seems like more than enough time for Mario to put on a pair of cleats again.
Super Mario Strikers Switch Is a Perfect Fit
If there’s one gigantic selling point for a Super Mario Strikers return, it’s that the Nintendo Switch is a fantastic console made for the series. Local multiplayer titles shine on the portable system thanks to its Joy-Con controllers, and it wouldn’t be difficult to map its control scheme to them. Sub-par ports of sports titles, such as FIFA and NBA 2K, have found an audience on the Switch, so crafting a game built towards the system’s strengths, rather than downgraded to its limitations, would allow Nintendo to offer up a great alternative to the third-party titles currently available.
A hypothetical Super Mario Strikers Switch version would also likely have versatile gameplay like its contemporaries. Similar to other success stories on the system like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Mario Tennis Aces, Strikers manages to provide an arcade experience that is easy to pick up and play thanks to some balance-shifting items and moves while also providing in-depth mechanics that can be mastered. By simply allowing for items to be customized or turned off completely, Nintendo could cater towards a casual crowd and more serious sports fans at the same exact time. This is why the Mario sports line has been so successful over the years and that long-lasting appeal is still viable in 2018 and beyond.
Charged wound up having a few controversial gameplay choices, such as allowing players to score up to six points with one goal, and implementing motion controls that didn’t add much to the experience, so this could also be a chance for the series to go back to its roots. It’d also mark the first Nintendo Switch game for developer Next Level Games, which most recently developed two Nintendo 3DS titles, Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Going back to the series that made the developer one to watch would be a perfect way for the studio to go into the future.
What We Want From Super Mario Strikers Switch
While local multiplayer is sure to be the main draw for a hypothetical Switch sequel, Next Level Games would be smart to offer players a full experience. Several Mario sports titles have featured single-player modes with a lighthearted story, and Mario Strikers Charged was criticized for its lackluster solo offerings. So, by giving Strikers a similar treatment, Next Level Games could make sure players had something to do while getting used to the gameplay and serving as a nice distraction from more competitive play.
Enhanced online modes could also be a key selling point for a Super Mario Strikers Switch installment and would be a great selling point for Nintendo’s online subscription service. Certainly Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a tremendous way to get players to pony up the few dollars per month that Nintendo Switch Online costs, but this would make for a great incentive for those that tire of the party game after a few months. Variety is key, and Nintendo would be serving an absolutely massive audience with a new football title.
Simply put, a Super Mario Strikers Switch installment makes all the sense in the world. Not only would it likely be a huge hit for Nintendo (as the series has proven in the past), but it’d also add some much needed diversity to the current game library. Plus, the multiplayer has a good chance of being a tour de force on both the local and online fronts. There’s little reason not to revive one of the best Mario sports titles and new Strikers would be just the kick the Switch needs.