Mario Strikers Charged

Mario sports games are always crazy, but it could be said that the pudgy plumber's first foray into the world of traditional football in 2005's Super Mario Strikers for the GameCube wasn't quite crazy enough. As goofy a game as it was, the dearth of the true Mario brand of wacky was apparent, and the game suffered for it. Mario Strikers Charged for the Wii is essentially a sequel to that game, and its first and foremost goal seems to be to amp up the crazy factor. Developer Next Level Games has certainly succeeded in this area, though the final product ultimately resembles less the game of soccer and more some kind of psychotic episode of flaming balls, thunderous hits, and flying shells coming from every which way. Sometimes this chaotic gameplay gets a bit messy, and some of the gameplay elements, like tackles and the artificial intelligence in single-player, aren't perfect. Still, if you can get a grip on the action, you'll find Charged to be an addictive multiplayer game, especially if you plan to take it online.

Much like the original Strikers, players begin by selecting a team captain from primary Mario characters such as Luigi, Bowser, Peach, Daisy, Wario, and, of course, Mario himself. There are 12 captains in all, each with unique stats in movement, shooting, passing, and defense. Once you've got your captain, you then select three teammates from the lexicon of lesser Mario characters (Shy Guy, Monty Mole, Birdo, and the like). For those who played the original Mario Strikers, you'll note that this is different from the team selection in the last game, where you could only pick one type of teammate. Here, you get to choose three different ones, and they're every bit as varied as the team captains. They even get their own unique megastrike shots, the big power shots that goaltenders tend to have a difficult time with, which you can pull off by holding down the B button.

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