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Yes, we still can't believe we're getting a new Mario Strikers game this year with Mario Strikers: Battle League. Pinch us. Or maybe just blow a whistle near us to make sure we wake up from this dream.

With renewed interest in the Mario football game series, GameXplain recently spoke to Mike Inglehart, formerly of Next Level Games — the studio behind the excellent soccer franchise, along with Punch-Out!! and Luigi's Mansion 3. While the full interview hasn't been published yet, the snippets we have seen give us a brief behind-the-curtain look at the original Super Mario Strikers on GameCube.

Turns out, the game wasn't initially intended to be a full-on soccer game. In the prototype stages, Inglehart says that the developers were trying to make a soccer platformer:

"Funny enough when we went through the initial prototype, we ended up making a platforming style of soccer game, so we actually tried to make something that instinctually would fit the eastern market, and that’s not what they wanted. So they said, ‘Scrap that, start again’, and I think we just focused too narrow and tried to make again something that they wanted. They didn’t give us too many clues. They just said 'Mario soccer' to see where we would go. We went in the wrong area."

Sounds interesting, but how would you jump with the ball? Keepy Uppies? Headers? It sounds like Next Level was shooting for the wrong goal. In the same interview, Inglehart also talked about gameplay from this prototype Mario Strikers, which involved kicking balls at Goombas and goal posts within Peach's Castle and standing on the ball itself to move around:

"It’s really hard to describe since it was such a strange experience, but there were two goals that were kind of, if I remember correctly, nestled inside of castles. You could kind of… to dribble the ball Mario and Luigi would get up on the ball – like a circus animal – and kind of roll it under their feet. It didn’t resemble soccer at all. Soccer was the means to the end, but it was just a weird concoction of trying to fit in what we thought they were looking for on top of a sport. We had to flip that upside down when we actually got the feedback and put soccer first and layered Mario on second.”

We're not sure what the princess would think of having a soccer game set up in her castle, but it sounds like the team acknowledged that, as fun as the idea sounded, it was an awkward halfway house between platforming and the beautiful game when Nintendo really wanted a Mario sports title. It all worked out in the end!

You can watch the whole interview below.

Let us know what you think of this Mario Strikers prototype in the comments!

[source, via]