Though it looks and has many similar rules to soccer, Mario Strikers: Battle League isn’t as simple as the world’s most popular sport. Mario always puts his own unique spin on whatever sport he tries his hand at, whether it be tennis, golf, or even the Olympic games. You can obviously expect the Mario cast to add their own flair and personality to the game, but there’s a lot more depth to this game than you might expect.
Whether you played the last game in the series or not, Mario Strikers: Battle League changes things up enough that everyone will need to essentially start from scratch when learning how to properly play this fast, high-energy, action soccer game. You can eventually pick up all the skills you’ll need over time, but having a few essential tips and tricks in mind right from the start can get you to the fun parts that much faster. While you’re lacing up your cleats and equipping your gear, make sure to check out our beginner’s guide for Mario Strikers: Battle League.
No one likes homework, and the closest thing we have to that in video games are text and game tutorials. Mario Strikers: Battle League comes with a full menu of guides on the main menu under “Game Guide,” which you should immediately run through. You don’t need to fully study and take notes on every category, like “Character Introductions,” but you will certainly want to make sure you’re familiar with most of them. Items, Gear, and Attributes, in particular, are vital to internalize right away.
Back on the main menu, the next order of business is to go through the full list of training missions. Again, it’s not super exciting, but you are at least rewarded with coins for finishing the training match. This is where you will learn all the important parts of Mario Strikers: Battle Leaguefrom basic movement, shooting, passing, tackles, Hyper Strikes, and some advanced techniques. Mario Strikers: Battle League is one of the more complex games in terms of options and controls, so take your time going through these to avoid any fumbles in a real match.
Once you’ve got a grip on how Mario Strikers: Battle League works, you are almost ready to get into a real match. However, right before you do, the game will ask you if you want to play on Automatic or Manual, with almost no explanation as to the difference. Thankfully, it’s simple: Automatic means that you will automatically take control of whichever character on your team has the ball. Manual, meanwhile, keeps you in control of your chosen character until you hit ZL or L to switch characters manually.
Automatic is handy, especially if you’re playing alone and know you want to be in the action at all times. However, it can be confusing when playing multiplayer since you will be swapping characters often.
Soccer is a non-contact sport, but that’s not the case in Mario Strikers: Battle League. Not only are you allowed to slam your opponent into the walls but you’re encouraged to. This is obviously great for stealing the ball away from the other team, but you should also be targeting the other team when they’re on defense. The more opponents you can tackle ahead of your ball handler, the less resistance they will have getting the ball into a position to shoot.
Items are great for adding more offensive tools to your belt, but if you ever see a Strike Orb, that should become your first priority. Grabbing one gives that player a temporary buff that lets them unleash their signature Hyper Strike, which isn’t quite a guaranteed goal but is the closest thing there is in Mario Strikers: Battle League. Even if you don’t have the ball and end up wasting it, it’s better to deny your opponents the chance to get the Strike Orb and waste it yourself than risk them getting an easy goal. If they do get the ball with a Hyper Strike stocked up, attack! The best way to defend against it is to either steal the ball before they can use it, or interrupt them while winding up their Hyper Strike.
The AI and other players are all going to be rushing your ball handler basically all the time. Dribbling and running the ball all the way across the field with that much heat on a player will almost never work out, so don’t try to juke and spin your way past an onslaught of blockers that will end up taking the ball from you and make smart passes. Not only is this a faster way to move the ball but it also keeps the enemy team out of position if they all just try to follow the ball.
Passes are also your best way to get around Boom Boom. This goaltender is pretty quick, but if you can lure him to one side of the net, pass across to the other, and take a quick shot, he won’t be able to block it if pulled off correctly.
Speaking of shooting, Hyper Strikes are great, but don’t focus exclusively on them. Yes, they’re flashy and highly effective, but also come with risks. You have to charge them up and, as we talked about before, that leaves you open to getting interrupted. Normal shots should be your most reliable scoring method, with Hyper Strikes only being used in the right situations. Fully charged-up shots are worth taking even if they don’t have the best chance of scoring since they may leave Boom Boom dizzy for a few moments. If that happens, and you recover the ball, that’s an easy set-up for a goal.
Our last shooting tip is to always be aiming your shots. Just like curving a bullet, you can curve all your shots in Mario Strikers: Battle League to get around defenders and the goalie. Whenever you start winding up a shot, you can direct its path by using your analog stick up until you confirm the shot. Moving the stick up or down will make the ball go higher or lower, and left and right will curve it in either direction. Use this technique to get the ball around any defenders and the goalie that changes position between when you start winding up a shot and the moment you actually kick.
The characters in Mario Strikers: Battle League aren’t just there for fan service. Sure, most of our favorite Mario franchise characters are here, but they are all very different. Not only does each character have their own unique Hyper Strike but, more importantly, they all have a different distribution of stats. Toad is very fast, for example, while Bowser is incredibly strong. Rather than just build a team based on who you like, try to build your team around having a good balance of defenders, mid-fielders, and strong shooters.
Along with the character’s base stats, building their gear is also important since they can augment their stats even more. We recommend using gear to improve a character’s natural abilities more than to try to make up for their weaknesses. It’s better to have a team of strong characters in each role than a team of players that are just decent in everything.
Last up, one accessibility feature that is easily missed but very handy is the Visual-Assist Mode. Turning this on in the game’s settings will give each character a bright-colored icon above their heads while playing. This makes it much easier to identify who’s who at a glance, especially if you’re playing in handheld mode where the action can be small and unclear.