FORE!  Seriously, how do I not intro an article about a golf game with the games oldest expression for ‘watch out, here it comes!’?  I couldn’t, obviously.  Mario Golf is one of those old Nintendo darlings (they do have a lot of darlings) that never fails to entertain. Now in the 3rd dimension, does Mario Golf: World Tour crush it in a long drive, or flub it into the drink?  (It’s crush, the answer is crush)

Release Date: May 2, 2014

Consoles: Nintendo 3DS

Genre / Rating: Sports / E

I’ve met a lot of folks, who, like my friends and I, spent a glorious sun drenched extended childhood in our late teens. For my friends and I, that often revolved around a Nintendo 64 and a gang of awesome ‘multiplayer’ experiences. We had many an epic Mario Kart battle, friendships forged and broken on those treacherous straights and hairpin turns. GoldenEye had us murdering our compatriots with a delicious arsenal of weaponry and options from the first person (can you say Inverted look?). It was during this silly and special time of my life that I first met up with the Mario Golf series. Like seemingly everything else I remember from that console, it was a great game to play with or around friends. Being Mushroom Kingdom oriented, it was a solidly made golf game with a Mario esthetic.  It was also just as good a catalyst for teeth grinding frustration and mockery of and by your friends as any of my Karting experiences. Maybe it was the raucous nature of our age, but there was a lot of  smack talk for a game about hitting balls with that jolly old Mario and company. Also, and I don’t think this has anything to do with age so much as being classically Nintendo, a lot of fun, whimsy, charm, and solid gameplay packaged with the skill Nintendo brings to bear.

I have to admit, while excited, I had some quiet reservations about putting this newest ’round’ (I really can’t help myself) of Mario Golf through its paces. It’s been awhile since I played any of the ‘sporting competition’ style games where two or more people compete in the same activity for long stretches of time, these being your Sports and Racing games most obviously, and after all, a round of golf is 18 holes. Back in those lazy summer days  I had more hours than I knew what to do with, 18 holes? Just for starters. Now though, could I really play enough golf to give this game (I felt confident it would be of Nintendo quality, and not wanting for content) a thorough shakedown?  I think it was around the time, while on a 2 hour ferryboat ride surrounded by adults and children, when I growled ‘you get in there’ a little too forcefully at a little digitally rendered ball that I realized I needn’t have worried. The bursting yarples of success at a successful stretch putt with a curve, rise, or both, basically confirmed it. 

Gameplay, a bit of a contradiction I suppose, but some of that early stage caution I mentioned  was an early sense of ‘ is this it?’ in regards to the control scheme.  It was a few rounds later that what seemed like simplicity was actually a deep and somewhat complex control scheme, shrouded by a blind of my own ignorance.  It was the focus required, and the unique test golf contains that requires planning and execution to carefully march a ball down a hole, eighteen different times, that taught me that.  Oh how quickly a promising round turns into raw fury as choke leads to choke, and then you have to swallow the shame of your triple bogey, and hit the next drive with a clear and level head. The delightfully Mushroom Kingdom Motif does nothing to dampen that red tinged , burning vision after following up a repeated bunker duff with an over powered putt that sends you back off the green.

There’s a deep suite of options to occupy your time, and it certainly will if you let it. Castle Club is a kitted out exclusive club with all the amenities. Following a Mii of your choosing, play a story-mode and get to know the clubhouse. Three main courses will face you down with various geographical and topographical challenges (darn you Seaside course!) offering you practice rounds and tournament play. There’s the mysterious Sky Island as well, which offers a course of ‘one shot, one in’ challenges that repeated wiped the floor with me. Further exploration of the club will reveal a practice area, a quick and sound series of tutorials that will have you understanding the required mechanics in no time. You’ll also discover the shop where players can trade in their hard swung coins for better gear, and should you find the Nintendo Royal Family you’ll discover some specialty courses as well.

There’s a bit more, but why spoil the fun? Besides, most Mario games involve exploring a castle or two, so I figure you’ll sort it out on your own. The ‘Mario Golf’ feature is all about the ‘quick round’, select Single Player, which contains a variety of match types that will earn you coins. VS, a multiplayer based feature for Local Play, and Online (friends/ community), and Tournaments (user created private tourneys as well as Mario Online). 

This was also my first crack at the XL 3DS.  I’m no stranger to the DS of course, I’ve put a few notable campaigns into DS products, the Puzzle Quest series most notoriously, where I’ve accumulated a sum of ‘hours played’ that surprises even me.  No, mostly I just haven’t had a good reason at the right time, until now, obviously. So while I won’t carry on for long (this isn’t a double review after all) I have to simply mention how much I enjoyed this XL 3DS. This simply seems like the ideal size for a portable gaming system, though I suppose an argument could be made for a very large phone / undersized tablet (and you wouldn’t be wrong) the DS layout is just so wonderfully Nintendo. It’s a unique feeling they’ve cultivated over there, and its instantly recognizable. This gorgeous (the themed versions in particular, Zelda in this case) piece of hardware does its job admirably. The 3DS 3D enabled gameplay looks great, the depth of field working in a golf games favor, though I’ll admit there’s a trick to it, hanging onto that perfect angle for 3D.  A natural battery miser anyway, while I did enjoy a nice long drive into a vista with 3D enabled, I tended to favor 2D while on the course. Whatever the amount of ‘D’s Mario Golf: World Tour looks great on the 3DS, utilizing nicely the extra size of the XL and the options provided by the DS second screen.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Mario Golf, found it, not surprisingly, to be a deep and engaging Mushroom Kingdom style golf extravaganza, balanced nicely between solid gameplay and Nintendo Charm that, even after all these years, never ceases to entertain. 

Final Ratings

Gameplay: 4 / 5

Graphics: 4 / 5

Sound: 4 / 5
Controls: 4 / 5

Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4 / 5

Overall Rating: 4/ 5 (80%)

Mario Golf: World Tour is available now for the 3DS, and coming soon, pre-order for the much anticipated Mario Kart 8!

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