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In my opinion, this is an absolutely fantastic game and a really fun, innovative twist on the classic football game.
There really isn't any storyline; only different game modes - for example, there are: tournaments, exhibition or even play as a special team.
Basically you play as Mario or anyone of your favourite characters in a 5 a side football match.
The Graphics aren't great but their really not meant to be, it's more concentrated on gameplay rather than graphic or story. With that in mind the gameplay is very, very fun. There are loads of different stadiums for you to play in and the controls are fun and easy to use.
THe gameplay is muc more crazy than a normal football game - shoulder barging, electric fences and items to throw at your diposal make it fast faced and fun.
I would definately recommend this to you as it very unique - the chaos on the pitch makes it constantly fun and the sheer variety of characters, stadiums and modes make it great value for money.
When you take into account how naturally gifted they are at the sport, it's quite a surprise it took Mario, gaming's favourite Italian, and proven sports aficionado, to take to the football park. Indeed, Mario and his chums from the Mushroom Kingdom had been showcasing their golf, tennis and even racing skills since the 1980s with NES Open, yet it took until 2005 before they gave a go at the beautiful game with Mario Smash Football for the Gamecube.
Why did it take Nintendo's lovable mascot so long to take to the football pitch? Who knows. Perhaps because football is a no-sell in the US market, and up until recently wasn't exactly big business in Japan either, though that never stopped there being various bizarre cartoon-football titles starring the heroes of a myriad of Japanese TV shows like Ultraman, Kamen Rider and Gundam squaring off with the old pig & bladder, which must have had some success given how many there are.
While not a product of HAL Labs, who are responsible for the Golf, Tennis and scrapping (in the form of Super Smash Bros.) titles in the Mario franchise, Smash Football maintains the same feel, and sits quite comfortably next to these titles. By this I mean it's a very simplified portrayal of the beautiful game, 5-a-side, no referees, no set-pieces, no half-time...but spiced up with ridiculous special moves, a large dose of charm and a never-ending potential for multiplayer magnificence.
The game is incredibly easy to pick up and play. Any fool can fumble, drunkenly if necessary, through games only actually using A, which is pass, and B, which is shoot, though the game does add depth in it's own way, charged Super-Shots that can only be performed by the team-captain, a L trigger modifier and the traditional array of Mario items, ala spiked shells, boost mushrooms and bob-ombs to hurl at your foe to prevent them from beating you. The controls all respond in a tight fashion, and are like second nature within a couple of matches for even the most novice of players.
Games are of the fast, furious and silly variety, with scorelines going into double-figures (for both sides) with some regularity, flaming shots and bullet headers put in from Toad's jumping 6 feet in the air. It's all ridiculously silly, but trying not to get caught up in it is hard.
The 5-A-Side teams are comprised of a generic Crocodile goalkeeper (don't ask me why), your selected team captain and 3 sidekicks, which can be chosen to take the form of Toad's, Hammer Bros., Koopa Troopas or Birdos. The team captain's are your flagship franchise characters, Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Wario and Waluigi, each with their own talents and weaknesses, as well as goal celebrations. Sadly Bowser is relegated to pitch invasions to disrupt play by breathing flames, something made all the more disappointing by the unlock able 'Bowser Super Team', won by completing all the game's Single-Player cup competitions, who turn out to be a team of generic robots. I mean come on, if you were really set on not having Bowser, how about a team of Koopa Kids? Or even another Nintendo legend for a captain like Samus Aran or Link?
Thankfully this is about the only case of fan service disappointment you will find in the game, as it absolutely reeks of Mario. Seriously, you can almost smell that aroma of mushrooms, sewage pipes and pasta that comes with Earth's favourite plumber and his chums, and while the stadiums could perhaps have had a few more touches of Mario to them (I was waiting for a set of goal posts made of '?' blocks) but what is there, as you run out in front of a crowd of Birdo and Yoshi spectators, is all nice and consistent enough with the Mushroom Kingdom I know and love.
Naturally this relies quite a bit on some lovely aesthetics, and while the graphics may not exactly be revolutionary, their cartoon-tastic nature grants them an extra bit of breathing space, not that they are disappointing by any means. The sound is likewise important in the atmosphere of things, and though some of the trademark Mario themes wouldn't have went amiss, the voice acting more than makes up for it. All the characters have their suitable voices, which come into great effect in goal celebrations, and as they call at team-mates for the ball (a bizarrely realistic inclusion that nor FIFA nor PES can actually claim to use)
The amusing thing about Mario Smash Football is that if I'd written this review a few months ago, I probably would have written it off as a nice enough little game, though perhaps guilty of simply being Sega Soccer Slam-lite. The main single-player aspect of it really isn't very inspiring, offering the player 4 Trophies to win, with extra stadia and the aforementioned disappointing secret team being the real prize on offer. The problem is that this gets old pretty fast, given that there aren't exactly a wealth of teams to choose from. This lead to me not being displeased with the game, but hardly fawning over it.
What changed my opinion drastically was a day when, by sheer chance, some friends and I decided to give it's multiplayer aspect a whirl. This is where the game comes to life. It's hard to sum-up in words why it works so well, but when you take into account that even serious football titles really come to life in the 2-4 Player arena, it really should come as no surprise that a somewhat silly, though well-crafted football game clearly intended for party play kicks up it's enjoyment value about 5 notches when you couple in friend-to-friend banter and rivalries. The game is enough of a football game to draw in football fans, yet is simplified and unrealistic enough to get those who don't enjoy the sport playing and enjoying themselves. It works in a similar vein to Mario Kart for me. I hate racing games, but love a good game of Mario Kart, mainly because no matter ability, you are never out of the race, all it takes is one Blue Shell to get you back in there. Smash Football is the same, you're never truly out of the match, landing one Super Strike, achieved by fully charging a shot then timing a button press correctly, aided by onscreen dial, and you've clawed 2 goals back.
Mario Smash Football is not a game that could ever compete with Konami or EA Sports' titles, but then it never truly set out to. It has no real single player game attraction, but if you have some friends still willing to give the Gamecube a go, I'd imagine it will become a staple of any multiplayer gaming event, and it sits nicely on the shelf next to Super Smash Bros. Melee and Mario Kart: Double Dash in terms of games that keep Nintendo's little box relevant to gamers seeking some multiplayer hijacks.
Perhaps the question should not have been 'Why did it take Mario so long to appear in a football game?' but more, 'why did it take so long into the Gamecube's life before Smash Football appeared?' While I'm not sure if it's a system seller, the game's pure multiplayer magnificence couldn't have helped but draw those already thinking of buying a machine to it. Sadly it only hit shelves when the machine was all but dead, a last hurrah for the little box before it joined the Sega Dreamcast in the 'could have been' console graveyard.
Mario Smash Football is a five-a-side based football tournament pitting teams of classic Nintendo characters against each other. To win games players simply have to place more balls in the back of their opponent's net than the other team. In Mario Smash Football anything goes, so players who get fouled will get unique Mario Kart style items to avenge themselves with. These can range from mushrooms, which give them a superhuman burst of speed, to shells, which freeze or knock down the opponent's defenders.