This is about as much a football game as Barbie's Horse Adventures. This is a nutty Mario game that, just like Mario Kart, throws rules and realism out the window and replaces it with bonkers gameplay designed to be fun.
Just look back at our hands-on preview and you'll know what we mean. Megashots, super powers and obstacle-filled pitches set the scene for this arcade kick about. But even though it draws parallels between itself and Mario Kart, it lacks the depth, variety and overall Nintendo class of Mario's timeless racing series.
Mario Strikers Charged simplifies things right down to the bare bones of the sport. In fact, it even knaws off some of the bare bone as well. You kick the ball with the aim of getting it into the opponent's net. That's just about all there is of The Beautiful Game in here. You won't be making cheeky through-balls, laying it off down the wing or fixing up the perfect formation.
Nope, this is all about cheating. Teams are made up of five players: one captain (a main character like Mario, Luigi or Bowser) and three sidekicks (lesser names like a Kooper, Boo or Monty Mole). With little thought to any real strategy, simply get one of the many Mario-Kart-inherited items, beat the opposing team to the floor and smash the ball into the net with exaggerated power shots.
Red, Green and Blue shells, Bananas, Bob-ombs and Chain chomps are unleashed onto the pitch, causing all sorts of mayhem as you and the opposing team scrambles to get the ball past the Kremlin (from DK games) goal keeper.
Scoring isn't a problem - although the Kremlins are ninjas at saving normal shots they're easily beaten by power shots, but these take time to pull off. That's where the difficulty comes in because, as we found when we took on the computer on hard setting, finding time to perform a power shot between chaos and lethal stud-first slide-tackles is not easy task.
Special power items activate your Captain's unique power, giving you a goal-scoring opportunity. Mario for example, grows into a giant and stomps around, Yoshi turns into a nimble egg so he can roll the ball quickly near the goal for a shot, and Donkey Kong pounds the ground which sends all surrounding players flying.
Get the opening you need and all you have to do is hold down the B (shoot) button for a few seconds, after which a golf-game-style power bar appears above your head. Release and then tap B twice to stop the marker at the right points within that bar and your character launches into the air, surrounded in flames, and unleashes several Megashots at the keeper.
This is a laugh when you're playing against a mate because they then have to defend a series of speedy incoming shots with a pair of on-screen gloves controller with the pointer function of the Wii Remote. You'll jab them as they miss the shots, or sit in silent shame if they save them all. But it's crap against the computer because, the whole goal-saving part is skipped and the Wii seemingly chooses at random how many you missed or scored.
But that's the whole problem with this game - it's not a great deal of fun playing against the computer. When it's on easy mode it barely makes an effort to stop you pulling off one Megashot after another, and you'll trash it 39-0. Set it on hard and the git seems able to stop you no matter what you do and it's bloody frustrating.
It'll be kicking your players that don't even have the ball, scoring with seemingly weak shots and all sort of stuff that will make you want to slam your Wii Remote into its CPU face.