i spent some time recently trying to make more progress on super mario strikers for gamecube, but have had to give up. (see the review at nintendojo for more info about the game.) i’d played the game at various points in the last few years, and although i was improving and got through the easiest level, the next level up proved to be painfully tedious. it may just be that i’m bad at sports games in general, but the AI in this game feels egregiously cheap. as you’d expect from a team sports game you only control one of your 5-person team at a time, so you have no control over whether or not your teammates are in a good position for you to do a quick pass and score, whereas the CPU seems to set up such shots without any effort whatsoever. adding to this feeling of chance is the fact you don’t control your goalie at all either. oftentimes you can sneak in a goal by shooting, missing, and then scrambling for the ball and another kick, but this ends up just being a button-mashing frenzy and, again, a matter of luck. the “super goals”, activated by the captains only, also feel somewhat unbalanced. here a meter appears and if you time your button presses well you can earn not only a goal, but 2 points instead of just one. it takes some setup to clear enough space around you to attempt it (usually achieved by activating one of the mario kart-style powerups), but otherwise it just feels like more randomness, as does the random appearance of bowser to wreak havok on the field. the powerups themselves all serve much the same function with minor variations, but otherwise aren’t too objectionable, although as others have noted the difference in the stadiums is purely cosmetic and feel like they could’ve been an opportunity for some interesting variations. i also found it tedious that at the higher cups you have to play 7 rounds, and the default of 5 minutes per round seems similarly excessive (i quickly realized this, and ended up setting the rounds to 3 minutes instead). not to mention that the graphics during matches are unmemorable (although the intros, in which the characters saunter into the stadium, are amusing), and the music is minimal.
the game generally got good reviews and it may be that its multiplayer mode is more enjoyable, but after spending hours on the game without really enjoying any of it i’ve put it to the side for now. i’m hopeful that the sequel is better, but before i get to that i’ll probably try to catch up on the mario tennis series instead.