Players with friends will take part in a 4v4 contest of a hyper-realized version of soccer which takes a few liberties with the rules – such as Donkey Kong using his hands – that make it a fun outing.
The gameplay is simple, but has a few extras included to make it that bit more extreme than, say, FIFA which focuses on the simulation side of the game, but is a lot more akin to FIFA Volta mode which is almost like the old school NBA Jam series many years ago.
The graphics are on par to any normal first party Nintendo game with the field looking stunning and characters such as Donkey Kong’s fur physics looking great. The animations when scoring also hit the mark, even if so ever brief. This game is really pretty and bright, as you would expect from a Mario game.
While I mentioned earlier the simple gameplay, each move has a few tweaks to make them a bit more complex, but not hard to pull off, so if you’re looking for a bit of fun with kids, this game has you covered.
Simple shooting and tackling can be expanded by simply holding down the assigned button and releasing at the right time for maximum effect. Passing and shooting is simple too, like when passing the ball and tapping the pass or shoot buttons at the right time can add a modifier to the action making it harder for your opponents to intercept.
While playing the game, if you are familiar with Mario’s other successful franchise in the Mario Kart or Smash, the game does a fine job integrating these features into the game also. There are the standard Question mark hit boxes that will start to litter the screen as pick ups opening up your standard shells, stars, mushrooms, you get the idea and would be able to tell what these all do.
Then on top of that you have the star of the show, the smash ball. When this is collected you have a set amount of time to activate it to preform a devastating shot on goal with varied success. Unlike the ‘On fire mode’ in the latter NBA Jam series, unless your timing on the shot is perfect, its not guaranteed that this one time shot will be an instant two-goal score.
Once you’ve held down your goal shot you are given a timing mini game with two arrows that you indeed to hit both sweet spots for a successful goal, the cartoon animation looks fantastic and really give the game a style that separates it from other Mario games. On the flip side, your the opponents try this smash shot of you, simple button mashing can assist in blocking the shot.
Single player in this game is relegated to simple exhibition matches against the CPU, or you can take part in one of the six cup tournaments where you will take a team of 4 in a bracket and play all the way to finals in order to earn more of the games’ coin currency.
You can play this by yourself or have friends join in, but it was here where I found the game’s single player was lacking as it didn’t really have a story or RPG elements in the way that the likes of the Mario Golf series has. So if you’re a single player such as myself, you unfortunately wont find much to do from this game, unless you really enjoy the game of soccer and are looking for reprieve from simulation titles with LOTS of microtransactions (You know who I’m talking about).
The game’s currency is there to be spent on modifying outfits for your team so you can kit them out to suit your style of game, and this can help your bigger characters such as Bowser and DK get a bit more speed behind them or make characters such as Luigi or Peach stronger. It’s not too complicated but its definitely a mechanic that’s welcomed as you’re not spending any real world money if you make the game unbalanced.
The final mode that could be considered for single player is the Strikers Club – the online portion of the game where you can build your team and take part in seasons against people across the globe, your wins and losses will contribute to your overall standing in the league in week long seasons, letting you acquire new players with weekly winners earning. So for competitive players of this game, this is the place to be.
While playing this game there is a lot to love, but unfortunately not enough to bring someone like me back, even for weekly tournaments.
The lack of any story makes this game a pass for me, but if I had more friends over or to play with online, I could definitely see it being competitive the way a Mario Kart would be.