Review: Mario Golf: Super Rush (Switch)

Does the series’ console return land on the green or sail into a water hazard?

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 07/07/2021 01:45 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Smooth gameplay both online and off; character designs are wonderful; Golf Adventure is a fun return to the GBC's solo RPG; easy to learn, accurate mechanics; motion controls are sound
Poison Mushroom for...
Minimal number of courses and golfers; online lacks rankings and tournaments; free DLC is cool, but when all is said and done it feels like upcoming updates will simply be finishing Super Rush's development

If your formative years were spent in the late ’90s, then Mario Golf on Nintendo 64 likely holds a special place in your heart. It speaks to the magic of the Mushroom Kingdom and its mustachioed hero that the serene sport of golf could become so wildly interesting and exciting when turned into a video game with a colorful cast of plumbers, princesses, and minions. I certainly didn’t know a thing about golf until that first outing, but ever since I’ve actually developed a mild appreciation for the real-life sport. The series even more so—I clocked countless hours playing Mario Golf: World Tour, the latest Mario Golf game. Launching way back in 2014 on 3DS with no further installments since, I know I’ve wondered when we’d finally see the franchise return. With the release of Mario Golf: Super Rush, Mario and friends have made a comeback to the links in a big way.

Super Rush brings the beloved RPG hijinks of the Game Boy Color version of Mario Golf back into the spotlight in the form of Golf Adventure. After choosing a Mii to play as, Golf Adventure sets the stage for the numerous modes and play styles that Super Rush has in store. As Nintendo is wont to do, Golf Adventure functions from the outset as an elaborate training session. From putting to chipping to driving to everything in between, the player’s Mii character is put through his paces. The story mode here has some definite substance, with Birdo as head of the team household from which the player begins their quest to become an elite golfer. It’s goofy, charming fun, with hosts of Shy Guys, Koopa Troopas, and many other minion mainstays on hand to chat up and learn from. The story line isn’t especially strong, but it isn’t meant to be. However, compared to Mario Golf on GBC, Super Rush does come up a bit short of that predecessor’s legitimately engrossing campaign.

The player character can be customized quite a bit, with three save slots representing what are essentially two additional Miis to level up. Such is the confidence that Nintendo has that players will want to spend the time finetuning a Mii for some good old fashioned competition. Nintendo is right to think this, as Golf Adventure keeps things engaging enough that it’s genuinely rewarding to watch a Mii grow and evolve. Some of the exercises and tourneys might quickly feel rote to longtime fans, but it’s worth it to take on the numerous challenges as Super Rush has a few notable changes to become familiar with. The biggest is the shot meter, which now runs horizontally along the right-hand side of the screen. It’s arguably simpler to make a shot now, but it was a learning curve for me and likely will be for other veteran golfers.

Also of note is Super Rush’s motion controls. They’re good. They definitely didn’t replace the standard button controls for me, but with Switch lacking an heir apparent to Wii Sports and its enjoyable motion-based golfing, Super Rush’s version is intuitive and immersive. The Joy-Con are far more sensitive and accurate than even a Wii Remote with Motion Plus built in, which translates to some vivid digital golfing. Still, there are nuances, like altering the curve of a shot, that traditional button inputs do a better job of handling. Definitely give the motion controls a shot for yourself to see how they work for you.

There are several modes to engage in, but the headliners are Speed Golf and Battle Golf, especially when played in multiplayer. Speed Golf sees players running from pin to pin, with a constant timer keeping the pressure on. It’s wildly different than standard golf, and for a change of pace it’s sure to amuse. Speed Golf is a smart way of making the sport a tad more approachable to fans who prefer a faster paced style of sport or multiplayer with friends. The same can be said of Battle Golf. Here, players must complete three holes, chosen at random by each participant, which in turn removes them from access to opponents on the course as they’re won. It can get quite wild and has a great tempo, but ultimately Battle Golf is light on courses with only two to choose from, and by their nature the matches are short.

Overall, multiplayer is solid, though, with local play and online both proving quite stable. It is worth saying that online can leave something to be desired outside of the times when playing with friends. Voice chat is the only means of communicating and is limited to the Nintendo Switch Online app (remember that?), which might irk some players but hey, it’s (ahem) par for the course at this point when it comes to Nintendo’s multiplayer offerings. Another shortcoming in Super Rush is the total lack of tournaments and rankings. Perhaps they’ll arrive in a future update, but for now online multiplayer with strangers is purely about competing in the moment. That’s going to be a hard sell if the goal is to keep players engaged online for months and even years to come.

Where Super Rush fumbles is in its seemingly lackadaisical execution. The game looks and performs wonderfully. The writing is funny. The online is implemented admirably. But there are only six total courses at this point and none of them prove to be all that memorable. Wildweather Woods is dripping with atmosphere and Super Golf Stadium is the exact sort of over-the-top, futuristic course that one expects from a Mario Golf game. Yet, as a whole the courses feel safely iterative and sometimes sterile. I can’t help but wonder if Nintendo looked at longtime developer Camelot at some point and said, “eh, good enough—we’ll just keep bolting stuff on as DLC over time.” Nintendo announced prior to launch that Super Rush will be following in the footsteps of Mario Tennis Aces with copious free updates to look forward to, but getting Super Rush’s content to an adequate level shouldn’t be passed off as fans getting “freebies”—more should have been present from the start.

None of this should dissuade anyone from playing Super Rush, of course. This is a quality effort by Nintendo and Camelot. The series’ whimsy is here in spades and whether played solo or with friends, Super Rush offers hours of fun. Plus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the killer golf uniforms that much (although sadly not all) of the cast is sporting. (Jakks Pacific should keep these new looks in mind for future toys.) There is something lacking when looking at the game as a whole, however, with the blame spread evenly across the small roster, limited course options, and underwhelming absence of online rankings and tourneys. Super Rush is no hole-in-one, but it hits for par at the very least and will only keep getting better as it’s expanded upon with DLC in the coming months.

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