Mario Golf: World Tour is a perfect example of how a game in real life can be boring, slow-paced, and difficult to master, but a video version of said sport can be incredibly entertaining, fast, addictive, and easy to pick up and play. I’m beginning to believe Nintendo just needs to throw Mario into anything mundane and it’ll become a best seller. Mario Knitting could be the next big hit. Perhaps even Super Mario House Chores would be a parent’s dream come true for their Nintendo loving children. But let’s be real: Mario’s best non-Bowser-thwarting outings are always on the links. Or the tennis courts. Or the race track. Or the fighting arena.
This is a Mario affair, so the realistic golf game is thrown out the window in favor of a heavily Nintendo themed arcade golfing sim. And it really couldn’t be better, because this is easily one of the best golfing games I have played since, well, probably Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour on the GameCube.
In many ways World Tour is identical to Toadstool Tour: You take Mario or one of his pals through a few different courses (some standard, some fantastical), try to shoot below par by dealing with ball trajectory, wind factor, hills, and weather, and compete in tournaments to become the champion of the greens. You’ll have to master driving, chipping, putting, and everything that comes in between to be champion, but the challenge is spot on, and the increase in difficulty as you go up in rank never feels out of proportion to your own skill progression. As far as the basics of the arcade golf game, World Tour has them down to a “Tee”. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself…
One of the new features in World Tour is Castle Club mode. In this mode you take your Mii character you created on the 3DS through a series of trials and championships to emerge the number one golfer of the club.Oh, and this club is only patroned by Nintendo mascots including Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Koopa, Shy Guy, plenty of Toads and Goombas, and even an h’ordeuvres munching Wario.More than just a glorified single player means to competing against the computer, the Castle Club also has a cafe to chat with other golfers (computer controlled, but it’s something), a large grounds to roam around and enjoy, and a pro shop.
The Pro Shop is where you’ll likely spend most of your time in the Castle Club, because all other parts of it are entirely optional. As you complete rounds of golf or minigames (which we’ll get to later) you earn coins which can be used to purchase new gear for your Mii. The gear is always themed after a Mario world native, so there are Koopa Troopa golf clubs in place of Nike, and Toad’s face on the golf balls instead of the Titleist logo. These new clubs and clothes are more than just aesthetically pleasing, as they improve your Mii’s drive distance, curve of the ball, and control while putting. Completing more rounds unlocks more items to buy, giving the game a great RPG sense that really makes it worth while to play just one more round. And yes, it is incredibly addictive!
From the beginning of the game there are three, for lack of a better term, standard courses to play, and two wacky, Nintendo themed courses. The regular courses are tame comparatively, but offer up a great golfing experience. You’ll have to deal with increasingly challenging holes which include uphill drives, crazy windy conditions, and devious greens to putt. I found these basic courses to be the most fair of all the courses simply because they didn’t allow ridiculous chance to come up in an otherwhise straightforward round of golf. They were fun, and likely the courses that will test player’s actual Mario Golf skills.
The six other courses are themed after the Mushroom Kingdom and it’s domains. For example, Cheep Cheep Lagoon takes place entirely underwater; DK Jungle has Donkey Kong’s iconic barrel blasters all over the course, and Wiggler Park features gigantic forms of Mario baddies like Goombas. These courses are meant to be fun and not taken seriously in terms of actual golfing, and they’re all the better for it. These stages also incorporate items which can be used before each shot. These items can drastically alter your shots. The Bullet Bill for instance completely ignores wind effects and drives the ball straight forward, while the Ice Flower creates a safe, frozen landing pad for the ball to hit, allowing you to skip over otherwise impassable watery holes. Using items, ricocheting your shots off gigantic Monty Moles, and hoping your ball lands between the bouncy note blocks and on the green is a fun alternative to the more vanilla golfing experience.
There are several other game modes to round of the golfing adventure, but they’re not as glorious as Castle Club mode or anything like that. A simple quick play allows you to hit the links with only a few button taps. Challenge mode gives you a set of 10 challenges to complete for each course, and by doing so you unlock Star Coins which in turn open up extra courses to play, characters to use, and items to purchase. These challenges include series staples like hitting the ball through a set number of rings while also making par, or beating a character in a 9-hole game. By taking the game online you can compete in tournaments against players from all over the world. These tournaments have specific rules and timeframes. What I liked about playing online was seeing several other players’ shots in real time as I was playing. It was fun to see my ball go further than most others (which the game actual makes mention of!), but inspiring when someone else beats me! Playing online can also unlock some unique items in the main game as well, so it’s worth it to try it out every now and then.
Mario Golf: World Tour is right in the middle in terms of content, but it’s presentation is astounding. The game is visually impressive, with some of the best graphics on the 3DS handheld. Everything, from the characters, to the swing motions, to the incredible backgrounds comes with superb detail and charm. Even something as simple as getting par on a hole is greeted with fanfare from random Mii characters you have saved on your system. And that first time you get an Eagle or, if you’re lucky, Hole-In-One you’ll be exhilarated as much as your Mii by how happy everyone is!
On “Par” (I’ll stop) with the visuals are the sound, which incorporates familiar Mario Golf tunes for fans of the series as well as entirely new tracks to soak up. Aside from random shouts of excitement or praise from you’re Mii, you’ll only hear grumbles, roars, and occasional noises from the Nintendo crew. Honestly it can get kind of annoying hear Toad squeal every single time you talk to him, but at least he doesn’t bother you with pop-ups or anything like that when you’re on the course.
Mario Golf: World Tour is the whole package: it has enough content to keep you entertained for days, with plenty of unlockables to entice you along the way. It looks impressive and handles great. The Mario themed courses are a great foil to the more traditional outings the standard courses have to offer, giving players a few avenues to play and enjoy their game of golf. Even on the higher settings the game never feels too overly difficult, giving a great challenge and sense of accomplishment with each birdie. Plenty of helpful tools, training modes, and bonus games are available to help boost you to your A-game and compete against the world through online tournaments. Even if you have never played an arcade golf game, let alone a Mario Golf game, World Tour is a fantastic 3DS game that any fan of Mario game and/or sports games will love.