Super Mario Strikers was a wildly popular soccer remix title released for the Nintendo GameCube in December 2005. Mario Strikers Charged was released less than two years later for the Nintendo Wii and then the series went dark. Both titles were received well by gamers and critics but we still haven’t seen anything since. Fans of the series are often pretty vocal online about their desire for another game, especially when Nintendo Directs are announced. It’s one of the games I see asked for the most and with any other company I’d think it’s only a matter of time but there’s no telling when it comes to Nintendo.
Nothing but strikes
The Mario Strikers series is based around competitive soccer (or football outside of the United States) but with elements from the Mario series and a few twists on soccer rules. Like other sports titles set in the Mushroom Kingdom, players can use items to hinder opponents for an edge, like a red shell or bananas. Players can also use attacks and powerful shots when hitting the soccer ball into the goal. It’s everything great about soccer but with the characters and setting from the world of Mario, including over-the-top rules and combat.
We got really close to getting a new game in the aggressive and action-packed series but this time with a different twist: volleyball and/or wrestling. It’s kind of hard to say for sure since Super Mario Spikers didn’t get very far into development before being canceled. It’s hard to understand why Nintendo didn’t just find a way to make it work given the success and reception of the previous two entries in the series. According to a former artist at Next Level Games, Nintendo was reportedly going to be providing the developer with a larger budget and even more creative freedom for a sequel as a reward and thank you for the success of Mario Strikers Charged.
The game started off as much more of a volleyball game before the wrestling elements started to come into play, which would have either created a new hybrid style of gameplay or maybe they would have just gone with Mario wrestling. It’s hard to know or assume since it could have gone so many different directions, especially with the gameplay mashups we’ve seen in other Mario sports titles. It was around this time when they renamed it from Mario Volleyball to Super Mario Spikers.
Super Mario wrestling: Island adventure
The game was going to have different environments instead of just taking place in sports arenas, like in previous series entries. There are also some pictures from the pre-production development time that showcase smaller arenas as well so it’s hard to say if Next Level Games was deciding between the two or exploring the incorporation of both styles.
A trusted source that spoke with Unseen 64 said Nintendo ultimately just felt like the game’s premise and gameplay went against the company’s nature. The source that spoke with Unseen 64 said, “It was a Japanese honor thing.”
It’s a bummer we didn’t get to play this game because even though we don’t know exactly what it was going to be in the end, it sounds so interesting. Who wouldn’t want to see Wario spike a volleyball directly at Mario after proclaiming that he is in fact “num-bah one” or Waluigi deploying the world’s most dangerous kicks and grapples?
Ultimately Nintendo might have been right but it’s hard to say; we only have pre-production footage to analyze and speculate since full development never really happened. The companies have remained close over the years though. Nintendo trusted Next Level Games to create two sequels for the Luigi’s Mansion series on the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch. There was also Metroid Prime: Federation Force, which unfortunately wasn’t part of Retroware’s Canceled series.
It might be too late for Super Mario Spikers but it’s never too late for a Nintendo series to make a reappearance with a new sequel. Luigi’s Mansion went almost twelve years without a new game until Dark Moon released on 3DS in 2013 and then we got a full console sequel six years after that. We’re supposedly getting Metroid Prime 4 too, which will be over a decade from the last Metroid console release. Nintendo just moves to beat of their own Donkey Konga drum but nothing is impossible when they’re involved. They purchased Next Level Games in early 2021 so maybe there’s still hope for a remaster, port, or sequel in the Super Mario Strikers series.