A Few Clubs Shy of a Full Bag
Sometimes it’s best to wait a bit before coming to judgement. I considered rushing this review out to coincide with the release of Mario Golf: Super Rush. If I had, it would have been less complimentary than it is now that I’ve had time to play a bit longer. While not a perfect game by any means, it’s not the initial turd I thought it to be.
Mario and golfing have been linked since the early NES days. People have been pointing to NES Open Tournament Golf as the “first” Mario Golf game, but the paunchy dude on the cover of NES Golf is supposed to be Mario, so that should be considered the first one.
Mario Golf as we know it became a thing during the N64/Game Boy Color days. It seemed whenever a new Mario Golf game came out, there would be a handheld release along with the console one, so players could unlock new characters and upgrade their player stats on the go. I’ve never been into gimmicks like that, so I missed out on whatever Nintendo held behind the curtain with this.
I never got too involved with the series until Toadstool Tour on the GameCube. It was the perfect game to play in a college dorm, where a single controller could be passed around the room. To this day, it’s still my favorite as it seemed to be the height of creativity in regards to the series’ course design. Every game after has felt like they took a Tiger Woods game and added a few tweaks to the courses to make them more Mario-like.
Before the lockdown last year, I picked up the 3DS version, World Tour, via a GameStop sale. It was fine, but a little on the short side. I hear there is DLC, but I can’t fathom putting more money towards a handheld game.
Fixing What Isn’t Broken
When I heard a new Mario Golf was coming to the Switch, it perked my interest in finally taking the dive and getting the system. As of right now, it’s little more than a Mario machine to me, but I’m hoping that will change.
What I consider to be one of the drawbacks of the new game, is the loss of the old three-click style of golfing that has been a staple of the genre forever: one click to start the swing, one for power, and one for control. Now, once the power and spin has been selected, the player has the option to shape the shot by using the control stick while the control moves automatically. This takes away some of the challenge, and I’m hoping the option to time the control bar will be added in a future update.
There’s only a handful of mediocre looking courses available at the moment, which are easily unlocked by simply playing the entirety of the previous course. I’m glad this isn’t linked to the career mode as I prefer to play single player, so it saves me having to play through a mode I’m not crazy about.
As I said, my initial reactions to the game were more negative; however, there have been rumblings of free updates coming to the game, meaning this game likely released in an unfinished state. I’ve heard the Mario Tennis game on the Switch was in the same boat early on, but has improved considerably since its release.
Now that Nintendo has combined their handheld and home console systems, there’s no need for two separate titles; however, it seemed that they still want to include an RPG style career/story mode. Here, the player grabs their bag of clubs as their Mii (remember those?) and sets out to compete against D-level Mario characters before moving up the ranks.
The problem with career mode, it doesn’t take into account a player’s ability. As someone who has nearly 20 years of experience on the Mushroom Kingdom’s links, the early part provides little challenge on a blah course.
This mode also forces the player to walk around the virtual country club area, which is just frustrating for someone trying to progress through this mode as quickly as possible. I just want to keep playing the game, I don’t want to have to walk back to the lodge, chat with Birdo, and then “go to bed” so I can wake up the next day and continue playing the real game.
Always in a Rush
The career mode helps introduce the player to the new Super Rush mode, but then it forces the player to keep playing it in increasingly larger increments.
Super Rush is fine, if you ever wanted to combine golfing with Excitebike. Instead of each player taking an individual shot, all players begin at the same time and then run towards wherever their ball lands. Players have a gauge that prevents them from just going full speed ahead. So balancing sprints with jogging is essential to keep the avatar from passing out or something.
It seems that the lowest score is still paramount, even in Super Rush mode, but I guess the time to complete the course is used as the tiebreaker. This begs the question, why not just take the extra seconds to setup the perfect shot instead of flailing widely to be the first to sink the ball in the hole?
What Else is in the Bag?
As asinine as it was to not release a Mario Golf game on the Wii, it seems Nintendo is trying to make up for that mistake by adding motion controls to the Switch version. I haven’t tried them out because I prefer to play my sports titles with as little movement on my part as possible. They’re available though, if you don’t mind your kids slinging your Joy-Cons all over the living room.
I haven’t really sunk any time into online mode either. I’m not one to play online, but if you enjoy such things, let us know how it is.
Saving the Par
Although I may sound pretty down on the game, I do have fun playing it and can enjoy it for what it is. Yesterday, after a shit day of work, I sat down and played a round to destress and actually felt a sense of fun that I haven’t in good while.
I don’t expect to see this game on any Year’s Best roundups and that’s never really been what Mario Golf has been about anyway. I’m sure it will be in regular rotation for the foreseeable future, probably even more so if the rumored updates come to fruition.
Overall, this game is a quality, B-list Nintendo game. It’s not Breath of the Wild, but it will be remembered fondly by its target audience: dad’s like me who just want a way to relax with a medium we enjoy.