There are a few different ways to play Mario Strikers: Battle League, but they all amount to the same thing: matches of strike played against either a computer or other people. Whether you’re diving into Quick Battle, Cup Battles, or the online Strikers Club, you’ll be playing a fairly standard game of strike, though the circumstances around the match might differ.
Quick Battle is for players who might not have a lot of time on their hands or just feel like getting in a quick match. It’s a no-frills mode than can be played either locally or over the internet, and it’s about as basic a game mode as you can expect from a predominantly multiplayer title.
Cup Battles are double-elimination, tournament-style matchups that pit different teams against one another until there’s only one left. They’re very similar to the different cups in Mario Kart games, and they pay out big coin rewards at the end that you can use to buy new gear. These Cup Battles make up most of the single-player content in Mario Strikers: Battle League, and while they’re a decently fun time the first go-round, they don’t hold up under repeat playthroughs.
The final mode is the Strikers Club, which is the central online mode that allows friends to group up together and take on other clubs for bragging rights and unique, seasonal rewards. It’s a neat mode, and it shows a willingness to invest in online infrastructure that Nintendo hasn’t been known for in the past. Unfortunately, the one thing a game mode like this needs is a strong player base, and it’s unclear if Battle League will have the legs to support it.
In the few matches I played in Strikers Club, I was trounced thoroughly by the same player over and over again. I even quit out of the mode entirely and jumped back in for a fresh pairing, only to be matched up with the same guy. After several matches of this, I just had to put the game down and walk away, and I can’t imagine bringing friends into a situation like that would have made it any more fun.
It also didn’t help that I ran into quite a few issues with lag while playing in online matches. Characters would run in place before suddenly teleporting to the other side of the field and the ball floated through obstacles more than a few times, adding to the already growing frustration at my public humiliation.
Nintendo has promised there will be support for Battle League post-launch, including more gear, stadiums, and characters, but hopefully, they can add more modes to that as well. Right now there’s just not enough to do in the game unless you have a regular group of friends to play with, turning what could have been a neat spinoff into just another party game.