PRESENTER: Good morning, everyone. This is the 9AM tee time for the Wiggler Park’s Character Battle. Going first in this pairing, from the great state of Michigan, oprainfall Editing Manager Jeff Neuenschwander!
PLAY-BY-PLAY GUY: Jeff is a veteran of these games, having played the original Golf game way back on Game Boy and half dozen or so golf games on the PC. He eventually fell in love with Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64 as well as its counterpart on the Game Boy Color. He’s also logged in hundreds of hours on Toadstool Tour, so he’ll have an idea of what to expect from the modern Mario Golf game.
(quietly) Jeff addresses the tee. He’s gonna look for a big first hit.
JEFF: (watching the shot) S***! NO! S***! Why hasn’t the wind pushed it over?!
(ball goes to the ground) F***! Why did I put topspin on it?!
(ball stops just before the rough) Oh. That’s not that bad of a spot.
PRESENTER: And from Nintendo, the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom and champion at every sport he plays, Mario.
MARIO: Hello. It-sa me.
PLAY-BY-PLAY GUY: Mario has been on a tremendous run over the years, racking up wins all over the place. We don’t expect this to be any different.
MARIO: Oh, Mama.
PLAY-BY-PLAY GUY: Ooo, that’s a big miss-hit there. Mario’s ball is flying off to the side landing in the heavy rough, well short of Jeff’s drive.
JEFF: (confused) What the…?
Okay, so Mario Golf: World Tour is Nintendo’s latest version of Golf. You have 12 different Mario characters – plus your Mii – competing against each other on a number of different courses, each with their own unique twists. In addition, there are a number of gameplay styles that you can use to change things up, such as Match Play, Speed Golf, and Club Slots. While Match Play and Speed Golf are their own modes, Club Slots can be used most any time when you set-up a round.
In addition to the normal game, Nintendo has brought tournament play to the online portion of the game. In here, you can compete against other golfers from around the world in tournaments either set up by Nintendo themselves – which you can find either in the Mario Open section of Mario Golf Tournaments or in the basement of the Castle Club – or by players from around the world. As a matter of fact, I’ve actually set up two tournaments for you guys to start playing on right now: the open and difficult Club Slotfall (Code #50-2854-7722-1512) and, for those reading the review, the private oprainfall Invitational (Code #09-9857-9908-6161).
But you’ve already heard enough about what’s in the game. The real question is whether it’s worth the purchase. And the answer is… it depends.
Here’s the thing: Nintendo games are well put together. They are technically sound in most every aspect presented. World Tour continues that trend, with excellent control (especially when you turn the gyro sensor off), beautifully crafted courses, and a soundtrack that’s not just the best sounding I’ve heard in the series, but possibly the best composed in the series.
But, there are a couple of technical issues that I need to bring up. First is the sound. Yes, I said that the music is incredible. It’s also very quiet. In order to really hear it, you need to crank up the volume. However, if you do that, you have the characters yelling into your ears every time they say something. And unfortunately, I can’t find a way to balance this out better. Even more strange, the only sound choice you have is to turn the music on or off.
Someone got a case of the yips there, but I don’t know if it’s the sound engineer or the menu programmer.
Second, while the courses are crafted well, there is something about them that I take issue with. You are given a total of 10 courses in the game. That sounds cool. The problem is that only four of those courses have a full set of 18 holes. They did announce that there would only be 126 holes spread over the 10 courses but it still feels off. The courses that did get cut in half are the special courses that have various gimmicks or hazards that get in your way, and I can see why they would do that. Sometimes, you want to leave with people wanting more rather than running out of ideas trying to give too much.
But what doesn’t make sense to me is that one of the full courses, Sky Island, is a Par 3 course (meaning that Par for the course is 54 rather than 72). If you’re not going to create a Par 72 course, why not create mini-golf courses instead, like you did in Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64?
However, Sky Island does serve a purpose. This is the home of a “One-shot, one-putt” challenge at the Castle Club as well as a closest to the pin tournament that Nintendo holds. So it balances out a bit.
The other problem comes from the AI. That opening at the top of this review is actually closer to reality than you might think. Instead of being challenges to unlock a more powerful version of the character, the Character Battles are rather easy (they’re also done in 9 holes rather than 18, but that’s beside the point). I know they don’t want to make the computer really good, but it seems odd to make Mario not even adjust his shot on the green on a sharp slant. No joke, when I faced Mario, I won 5-0 on the first five holes doing nothing other than hitting the greens in regulation and sinking my birdie putts. It was that easy.
And now, here are my jokes regarding how easy it was to beat Mario at Mario Golf:
- Mario went down easier than a cheerleader on Prom night.
- I hear that Barenaked Ladies are coming out with a music video for their 2006 song Easy. It’ll be based on this match.
- I tried to get Doug Walker to write a joke about this, but he just waved it off and said “Nah, too easy.”
- Even the people that played Fire Emblem: Awakening exclusively on Casual are embarrassed by how easy this was.
- You could use the Easy button from Staples, but I hear that it would actually take 6 holes to win.
- I held a poll to see which was easier between this and Easy Mac. Easy Mac lost.
- (singing) It’s so easy to fall in love, but not as easy as Mario Golf.
- I would say it was as easy as a major conference football team beating a cream puff, but even the cream puffs score once.
- I hear that the alternate title for this game was New Super Mario Bros. Golf.
And the number one joke about Mario being easy to beat at Mario Golf is…
- It’s so easy, even a caveman could beat him
And now, back to our regularly scheduled review…
There is a small caveat to the terrible AI in the Character Battles. When you’re in Match Play (outside of the Star Coin challenges), you can adjust difficulty settings to make the computer character harder to beat. But they’re still easier than ever.
I think the thing that upsets me the most is the single player Castle Club. If you look at previous handheld versions of Mario Golf, there was a full RPG that had your character progress from new golfer to best in the World (or, at the very least, best at the club). Here, everything is stripped. Progression is shallower than a kiddie pool, you can beat the in-game tournaments and see the credits in about two hours, and, with Nintendo giving you multiple chances at tournaments (with the best score being kept), there’s no reason to go through any of the courses more than once (three for the Forest Course). The Club seems rather useless, only serving the purpose of a tutorial and Golf Shop.
However, there was one change from previous handheld game campaigns to this one that I’m for: changing character improvement from experience-based to item-based. Instead of previous games that have you gain strength based on experience gained, it’s based on what items you are wearing and using. This is important as it keeps certain Miis from becoming overpowered for online play.
Despite the issues I have, I still like this game. The music is excellent. The original compositions on the Club courses and during Speed Golf were enjoyable. And the remixes that were used on the special courses were fun.
Gameplay was solid. It’s pretty much the same as Toadstool Tour on the GameCube. You can also use the touch screen to control the game, but I never needed to.
And I’ve said before with my Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon review, but I’m saying it again here: there is a certain charm and personality to these games that is just a treat. While it doesn’t make up for some of the pitfalls, it does make the final product enjoyable.
And yes, there is DLC that adds courses and characters, but this is about the main package. Not everyone will buy the DLC.
Overall, Mario Golf: World Tour feels like a mixed bag. There are some issues that I wish they would have spent more time on or given more thought to, but the gameplay and overall charm of the game wins out.
Review copy was purchased by the author.
Mario Golf is available in North America at $29.99 USD on the eShop and between $29.99 and $34.99 at various retail outlets. It is available in Europe for €39.99/£34.99.