Mario Strikers Charged Wii

Mario Strikers Charged Wii
I’ve never been a big fan of sports games — Madden just feels like chess for macho-geeks to me — but Nintendo’s latest abandons the dull realism of most sports simulators for a turtle shell-filled blast of arcade-style fun. Imagine Super Mario Kart, with its power-ups, booby-traps and silly animation, crossed with a beyond-Thunderdome soccer game and you’ve pretty much nailed the manic-panic rush of Mario Strikers Charged. There are four body armour-encased players a side, all from Nintendo’s familiar stable of Mushroom Kingdom characters, and not too much concern for FIFA rules and regulations — there’s not a red card to be found. In fact, you’re encouraged to foul the other team by shaking the controller for a tackle or by unleashing a variety of cartoonish special moves, including Wario’s fearsome "butt smash” or Bowser’s bad fire-breath. It also encourages passing — needed to make the soccer ball "charged” and increase your chance of scoring — and when an opponent launches an over-the-top mega-strike, you get to play goalie, use the Wiimote to block shots. In case this isn’t all confusing enough, the stadiums have their own obstacles — Thunder Island, for instance, is windy enough to blow cows across the pitch which, y’know, can be distracting. Since sports games are almost always better played against real people versus an artificially-intelligent opponent, Nintendo’s also created its first decent online game for the Wii. You can easily play against random opponents but you still need a "friend code” to set up a match with someone you know. Hey Enrique, what’s your code again? (Nintendo)