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Mario Golf World Tour review

Seth Barton
24 May 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
29
inc VAT

We'd have preferred a single campaign mode, and the design is conservative, but Mario Golf is still a classic take on a great genre

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Golf is far from our favourite sport, we’ve nothing against it but for us it lacks the dynamism and energy of more active pursuits. As a computer game though Golf is a masterstroke, a turn-based puzzler, where you must conquer an environmental challenge, using both your wits and precise timing. Add in Mario’s vibrant, yet comfortably familiar, world and characters and you have the latest incarnation of a classic series, Mario Golf: World Tour for the 3DS.

This video gives you a good overview of what it's all about

The basic template of club selection and power gauges - with the usual trimmings of backspin, topspin, power shots, fade and draw – is unchanged from pretty much every golf game of recent years, and stretches back over numerous Mario Golf games, most notably to the Nintendo 64’s Mario Golf from way back in 1999. It’s surprising then the series never produced a Nintendo DS iteration then, making this the first Mario Golf game to take advantage of a touchscreen and a 3D display.

Mario Golf World Tour

Everything looks great, but the lower touchscreen is largely superfluous

Long-standing Mario spin-off developer Camelot has largely chosen to ignore the 3DS touchscreen, there’s no swipes to take shots, or tapping to add spin. Instead the game plays largely as ever, with all your key inputs being made with the face buttons and analogue stick. The lower screen contains the all-important power bar and other clutter, leaving the upper display largely free to show you the course at hand.

And everything on that upper screen looks great. The 3D effect is perfectly suited to golf, giving depth to the courses and allowing you to comprehend the geography of each hole in an instant. You can use the gyroscope to look around the course if desired, it’s a bit of a gimmick but the sensation of peering into the world is uncannily excellent at times. The graphics are crisp, all your favourite characters are lovingly rendered, and the courses are nicely varied in their appearance.

Making shots is matter of of balancing all the factors we namechecked above. You’re hitting a long shot out of the semi-rough with a driver, while taking into account the camber of where you’re standing, allowing for a strong crosswind, plus the run of the green; you slightly overhit the shot, before adjusting (with a quick double tap on B and A) on the follow through to add backspin, and land it perfectly just 2m from the pin. All of which is immensely satisfying and perfectly achievable after a few hours of play.

Mario Golf World Tour

To end your swing you can apply various spin options, a panicked Super Top Spin, when wanted Backspin is our main bugbear

Double Trouble

If Mario Golf: World Tour stumbles anywhere, it’s in the structure it throws up around the actual golfing, or at least half of it. The game is divided at the title screen into two modes, Mario Golf and Castle Club.

Mario Golf is pretty much the game you expect. All the Mario characters are present, some initially with lots more to unlock, along with super versions of your favourites too – which generally hit further but require more precise control. There are three fairly-traditional 18-hole courses plus loads more 9-hole courses with stronger themes and special features, such as pipes that suck up your ball and spit it out again further along.

Mario Golf World Tour

We love Bowser, with his huge drive and evil black balls

You unlock courses and characters by earning in the Challenge. Each course has numerous tasks to complete, and each of those earns you a coin. There are ring challenges, where you must hit the ball through all the rings and still finish the whole on par. There are 9-hole matches against that course’s character, and a fruit machine mode where you only get three clubs to improvise around.

Many of the modes let you pick up special shots, which let you bounce the ball off the water, sending it shooting up into the air, or boomeranging around obstacles. Though most of their uses are fairly telegraphed by the course design and objective placement, rather than you needing to find your own creative uses. It’s all great fun, a good challenge and just what you want from a Mario Golf game.

Castle Club looks to be very Mario-esque as well, set as it is in a castle reminiscent of that from Mario 64 and populated by iconic characters from the game. However this is a more straight-laced golfing affair. You play as your Mii instead and can upgrade your kit and appearance by spending the coins you earn. The two modes share the same courses, but access them differently.

Mario Golf World Tour

The Castle Club mode doesn't manage to successfully blend the worlds of Mii and Mario into a consistent whole

There are tutorial challenges here for those who want to better understand the game’s mechanics, and then an 18-hole slog through the first course just to set your handicap. Progressing here involves winning tournaments over the three 18-hole courses, the first two are easy enough but the third is then very hard indeed. Despite the Mario set dressing the whole thing is a bit dry and dull compared to the Mario Golf mode.

Accessible from both modes are the rather-good online tournaments, here you can take on players from around the world at various challenges and courses to see how you compare. The tournaments let you play the selected course in your own time, but you can see others' efforts as you play, with balls bouncing down the course. For your efforts you win coins and special edition gear to equip on your Mii golfer. For those who like to compete more directly with friends, there's local multiplayer, however you will need a cart each, with no single-cart play.

Conclusion

Its shot-by-shot nature makes golf a perfect mobile game, you can snap the lid shut at any interruption and pick it up later when time allows. The decision to stick with button and stick controls means you can play it while being bounced about on the bus or train, something that would have tough if the game required precise touchscreen inputs.

Although we feel Mario World Tour has unwisely split its eggs across two baskets, rather than putting all its efforts into one grand mode, there’s no doubt there’s plenty of golfing fun to be had here, especially given the online tournament modes and DLC options.

As with all of Nintendo's own 3DS games, it's pretty expensive-looking, but there's lots of play time here for your money. If you’ve got a Nintendo 3DS and are looking for a fun, engaging game to ideally play in bite-sized chunks then Mario Golf: World Tour fits the bill.

Details

Price£29
Detailswww.nintendo.co.uk
Rating****

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