Seven years is a long time between rounds, but Mario – and a bunch of his Mushroom Kingdom friends and foes – are back on course in Mario Golf: Super Rush.
It’s also the first console-based Mario Golf since Toadstool Tour, way back on GameCube in 2003. But the Switch’s beauty, of course, is that it’s as portable as it is a home console, and control options reflect this with an option of using the motion of the Joy-Con to emulate a real-world golf swing, or buttons if you a: don’t want to risk breaking stuff or b: are on the move. Obviously going the full-on waggle on a bus or similar isn’t likely to go down particularly well with your fellow passengers.
For a pastime that’s pretty simple – grab a stick and whack a ball towards a goal – there are several gameplay options in Mario Golf: Super Rush. Naturally there’s basic, old school, 18-hole golf, but there are also several gamed-up experiences. Chief amongst these is the ‘Super Rush’ of the title, which involves speed rounds against four opponents (human or CPU). Teeing off at the same time, you thwack that ball, run after it, thwack it again and sink the putt the quickest in order to score big. Each character has a special move, some more helpful than others, and bonuses such as coins and life hearts dot the greens. This is, after all, a Nintendo game!
“…beneath the cutesy exterior this is a deceptively deep golf game…”
Unless you’re a video game golf savant – for beneath the cutesy exterior this is a deceptively deep golf game – playing against the CPU is likely to frustrate. It’s amazing how good this lot are at the game, usually hitting par at the very least, which for mere mortals is easier said than done. Well, at least until you clock up many hours of practice.
Despite the swing control being simple – either emulate it in real life or stab a button to get a gauge going up, press that button again to stop at the desired power and start a secondary power stab, add spin left or right should you so desire – all the outside forces that affect real-life golf are in play. Weather, including wind, and the roll of the green, not to mention the many Nintendo-exclusive hazards that some crafty course designer thought would be fun, all hinder just sending that ball exactly where you want it. It’s a good thing, but when the CPU is just so gosh-darned perfect it can be a little frustrating, and may inspire some choice Happy Gilmore moments if you don’t hear the cheery “Nice shot!” exclamation from the announcer type. There’s a handy tool in an overhead view, which offers a lay of the land peek, and we found it most useful familiarising ourselves with it.
‘Battle Golf’ takes a similar all-in-at-once approach, but on one nine-hole course variation on classic ‘Capture the Flag’ within the rowdy Super Golf Stadium. Nab three flags and sweet, sweet victory is yours – time for the nineteenth hole! Almost a variation on the similar mode in Mario Kart, everything from humble bananas to not even remotely humble Thwomps and Bob-ombs can be utilised to ensure your path to a win.
There are also pursuits designed purely for solo golfers, with ‘Score Attack’ challenging players to get the lowest score over 18 holes, and ‘Time Attack’, not surprisingly, having you aim for the lowest time over a full course. The former should go down OK with golf sticklers, however the second one won’t – it’s meant to be a chill, languidly paced game, right?
If you’re in agreeance with that then maybe ‘Golf Adventure’ is for you. Set in the Mushroom Kingdom’s equivalent of St Andrews, this is a classically styled JRPG-light – lots of dialogue, SO much dialogue – as you create (or import) your own Mii character and gradually level them up, through completing various increasingly difficult challenges that also serve as golf lessons. Plus, there’s the added fun of dealing with the odd boss battle, as well as pranks from those wacky funsters Wario and Waluigi. Score well and get points to pump up your power (hitting distance) stamina, running speed as well as control and spin and you’ll eventually be able to qualify for greater challenges. Get right through and you can use your Mii in ‘Battle Golf’, too. Other than all the dialogue, the only real annoyance here is way too regular pauses for loading.
“…it’s in multiplayer where Mario Golf: Super Rush really shines…”
Add handy stats to the overall experience and – once unlocked – six courses to play with (more are promised down the track via free updates, along with more playable characters), and there’s a reasonable amount of content to get busy with. Ultimately though, while Mario Golf: Super Rush delivers a decent – if sometimes seemingly a bit too challenging – single player experience, it’s in multiplayer where it really shines, with several options including two players sharing one Switch and, of course, online play (assuming you have a subscription, natch).
If you’re after a golf game that values fun over po-faced simulation, then it’s hard to beat Mario Golf: Super Rush.
Mario Golf: Super Rush is available now on Switch.