Mario Golf (VC) Review

Take a look at the birth of Mario’s modern sport games series with the colorful, fun and challenging Mario Golf, originally on Nintendo 64.

By Francisco Naranjo. Posted 10/20/2010 11:30 2 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Very solid gameplay, great multiplayer, fun and challenging.
Poison Mushroom for...
No access to Game Boy Color exclusive characters, unbalanced character roster, fairly primitive graphics.

Reviewing Mario Golf is very awkward for me. My first experience with the series was GameCube’s Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, which is evidently a more refined and perfected game, so at some point this game seemed like a big step back. Not because of the blocky graphics and trademark Nintendo 64 muddy textures (traits which I actually find retro-charming), but because of some slight game mechanics that were definitely improved in the 2003 sequel. After a while of playing it, though, I think it’s as good and fun as the GameCube game, even with some unique aspects that make it just as valuable as Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour.

For those who have never played a Mario Golf game, it could be best described as an arcade-ish golf simulator with colorful graphics and the classic Mario twist found in other games like the Mario Kart titles. It’s developed by Camelot Software Planning, known also for its Hot Shots Golf series for PlayStation (which are arguably the base for this game). While I personally don’t enjoy watching golf in real life, I’ve always found golf video games highly enjoyable. It’s all about calculating your shot based on the terrain and the wind, choosing the best club and trying to reach the hole with the fewest shots as possible.

The controls are simple, and both the Classic and GameCube controllers work great with this title. The camera was originally controlled with c-buttons on the Nintendo 64 controller, so using the right stick feels natural. The shot is calculated by pressing a button as a tick point moves along a “sliding bar”, typical to most golf games. Specifically, pressing A swings and the shot type is specified by pressing B. Using the stick or pad (both having the same effect) changes the direction of the shot sideways, with up/down changing the club. The game automatically assigns you a club suitable for your current situation, but you can change it if you feel it’s not the best option.

Even with the cheerful Mario wrapper, the eight courses are rather realistic compared to those found in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, which were much more “Mario-ized” with pipes and so on. Still, there’s a good variety of environments which make each course different and unique. The character roster is also different than other Mario sport games, featuring five original characters created by Camelot and nine Mario characters: Baby Mario, Peach, Luigi, Yoshi (with his old ‘scratching disk’ voice), Wario (oddly wearing pink shoes), Mario, Donkey Kong, Bowser and Metal Mario.

Only Baby Mario and Peach (along with original characters Plum and Charlie) are selectable at first. You must unlock the rest by playing the ‘Get Character’ mode, where you have to beat each character before being able to play as them. Because of this, the first characters available are considerably weaker than those found near the end, so at some point you’ll have to stop playing as Peach or Baby Mario. A nice feature that is not present on more recent Mario sport titles is the option to change the color of your character, much like in the Super Smash Bros. games. Each character has 4 outfits selectable with the right/c-stick.

For being the first modern Mario sports game and having a cartoon-ish and colorful presentation, this game is actually very tough. The AI can be very sharp, and a lot of the challenges presented in the ring shot and mini golf modes are quite difficult. Speaking of which, the mini golf mode is a very fun option that sadly didn’t come back in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour. With traditional modes like tournament, speed golf, stroke and training, there’s plenty to do in Mario Golf. If there’s one downside to this otherwise really good game (besides Toad not being playable), it is that the Virtual Console version lacks the interactions with the Game Boy Color version of Mario Golf, due to the obvious lack of Transfer Pak support on Wii. This means you won’t be able to unlock the Game Boy Color exclusive characters.

Mario Golf is a very fun and surprisingly deep game, definitely recommended to fans of other Mario sport titles or golf games. It plays great on Wii and it’s a very good purchase if you enjoyed Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, since both games are significantly different. Unlocking characters and beating the single player modes is very fun and time absorbing, while the multiplayer mode is naturally a blast.

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