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3DS

North America

Mario Golf: World Tour Review

by Neal Ronaghan - April 25, 2014, 9:13 am PDT
Total comments: 12

8.5

The single-player Castle Club mode might not rekindle that old RPG feeling, but the rest more than compensates for it.

Nintendo-made golf games have been around in one form or another for 30 years, most recently with Wii Sports. The Mario Golf games, however, have been quietly dormant for a decade. The newest entry, Mario Golf: World Tour on Nintendo 3DS, brings the same golfing gameplay and zany courses back to the forefront. World Tour presents the classic sport with a goofy, light-hearted twist. Even with game-breaking Bullet Bill and Fire Flower items, the best part of Mario's 3DS golfing debut is just the quality of the game of golf. It shines the brightest when you’re sitting back, trying to knock off a stroke or two on the back nine while competing against your friends in an online tournament. World Tour works best as a golf game first and a Mario game second.

World Tour is broken up into a few different modes. The major one is Castle Club, the evolution of the RPG mode in past portable Mario Golf games. It starts off strong, but seems to end prematurely, only taking you and your Mii through three tournaments on normal 18-hole courses before directing you to the other modes. The biggest letdown with Castle Club is that there isn’t an interesting way to play through the crazy Mario World courses there. You have to hop online or toy around with the challenge mode to fully experience those six 9-hole courses with intriguing gimmicks and gorgeous locales. Even with that issue, I still spent close to 10 hours playing Castle Club, mostly due to the challenge of some of the final portions. It's mostly unfulfilling, though, because it doesn't integrate a bulk of the game's courses in a meaningful way.

The online play completes the experience, though, giving you a better venue for playing through the courses. While you can play with someone simultaneously locally or online, tournaments make up the bulk of the fun. You don’t play alongside anyone in the tournaments, though; instead, you can see opponent’s ghosts in a similar manner as Mario Kart time trials or the Trials series. The major tournaments are run by Nintendo and offer unique prizes for entering, as you compete with your region or the world in a variety of different ways. There are your fair share of traditional golfing challenges, but you can also compete for the longest drive, the fastest time, and more. That kind of variety makes the online excellent.

Players can make their own tournaments, too, and those can be shared publicly or privately. Tournaments have tons of options, letting you limit the characters, hand-pick the holes, and mess with the wind. You can even create a community like in Mario Kart 7, but that functionality still wasn’t working at the time of review. While the actual golfing gameplay runs smoothly, I have a few concerns over the online when more people are on it, as accessing the online was problematic at times. We will follow up post-release to see how it all holds up.

Even so, the design and structure of each course is totally aces, even in the crazier ones like the underwater Cheep Cheep Lagoon. While the fact that there are three "normal" courses is a letdown, the seven 9-hole Mario World courses expertly straddle the line between functional and ridiculous. It's awesome driving balls down the wooded fairways of Wiggler Park and DK Jungle, and it's exhilarating playing pitch-and-putt on the hidden Sky Island course.

All the variables, including wind and other obstacles, make it so holes are unique and interesting even in repetition. It also helps that after a gentle beginning, the computer opponents don't seem to go too easy on you, requiring you to learn courses and figure out the best way to approach greens to set yourself up to gain a stroke or two on your foes.

In the Mario World courses, you can use familiar items such as Bullet Bills. Unfortunately, they don't really work that well. In some modes, you can use items that give you various boosts. For example, there is an Ice Flower that allows you to bounce over hazards such as water and a Bob-Omb that will blow up any nearby obstacles. They are too chaotic, though, and I found the items usually did more harm than good. The Bullet Bill item, which cuts through the wind to go an absurdly far distance, would be feast or famine for me, as the slightest kink in its trajectory just ends it prematurely and usually completely screws you over. I found myself ignoring the items except in rare circumstances.

Mario Golf: World Tour succeeds in crafting a stellar golfing experience, one that will likely become a mainstay in multiplayer circles for a long time. The single-player portion doesn't seem fully realized, but the golf gameplay in World Tour is top notch and the stellar online tournaments have the potential to keep the experience fresh for a long time. With a nice variety of courses and lots to unlock, this is another fine entry in the long line of Mario sports games.

Summary

Pros
  • Compelling online tournaments
  • Spectacular golfing gameplay
  • Tons to unlock
  • Well-made courses
Cons
  • Castle Club ends too quickly
  • Items aren't fun

Talkback

xcwarriorApril 25, 2014

"Players can make their own tournaments, too, and those can be shared publicly or privately. Tournaments have tons of options, letting you limit the characters, hand-pick the holes, and mess with the wind."

Well that settles it. Game of the Year. Nintendo can cancel Smash on 3DS, because it won't hold a candle to this kind of online play.

DrHogieJosh Hogan, Staff AlumnusApril 25, 2014

All I want to know about this game is:


When you Par/Birdie, does Wario still pat his butt and say "WARIO HOT STUFF!"?

Quote from: DrHogie

All I want to know about this game is:


When you Par/Birdie, does Wario still pat his butt and say "WARIO HOT STUFF!"?

Not that I saw, but he does sometimes do this weird thing where he puts his hands up with his body and makes a "W" shape.

Also, he putts like a weirdo.

Evan_BApril 26, 2014

Never played a Mario Golf title before but damn, this sounds enticing.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, April 26, 2014

Quote from: Evan_B

Never played a Mario Golf title before but damn, this sounds enticing.

They're really awesome games. I have played all of them except for the Game Boy Color version, but I have that on the 3DS via Virtual Console. Definitely check out all four (soon to be five, I may have miscounted, though) games! My favorite is the N64 original, despite it not really being that wacky.

Evan_BApril 26, 2014

The GBC version is the one with the RPG mode, right? I might have to fire that up in anticipation for this title.

PhilPhillip Stortzum, April 26, 2014

Yes, Evan_B. There's also one IIRC in the Game Boy Advance game.

Mop it upApril 26, 2014

The Nintendo 64 Mario Golf is available on Club Nintendo, for anyone with 200 coins to spend.

RazorkidApril 28, 2014

I haven't seen it written anywhere, but does this game feature any asynchronous multiplayer via online besides the realtime tournaments? That would be huge for me and gaurantee that I grab this game.

Quote from: Razorkid

I haven't seen it written anywhere, but does this game feature any asynchronous multiplayer via online besides the realtime tournaments? That would be huge for me and gaurantee that I grab this game.

If you're looking for something where it's like.. "you do a hole, then the game sends a SpotPass notification to your opponent to follow up at his leisure," then no. That's not in the game. You can, however, play online at the same time like the local multiplayer where you're playing at the same separately (e.g. you both golf on the same hole at the same time)

KnowsNothingApril 28, 2014

Does anyone know how to put sidespin on the ball?  I feel real dumb but i cant figure it out.

RazorkidApril 29, 2014

Quote from: NWR_Neal

Quote from: Razorkid

I haven't seen it written anywhere, but does this game feature any asynchronous multiplayer via online besides the realtime tournaments? That would be huge for me and gaurantee that I grab this game.

If you're looking for something where it's like.. "you do a hole, then the game sends a SpotPass notification to your opponent to follow up at his leisure," then no. That's not in the game. You can, however, play online at the same time like the local multiplayer where you're playing at the same separately (e.g. you both golf on the same hole at the same time)

Thanks for the info. I wish they offered a mode like that on top of what they have, but I'll still bite.

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3DS

Game Profile

Mario Golf: World Tour Box Art

Genre Sports
Developer Camelot Software Planning

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario Golf: World Tour
Release May 02, 2014
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Mario Golf: World Tour
Release May 01, 2014
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Mario Golf: World Tour
Release May 02, 2014
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
aus: Mario Golf: World Tour
Release May 03, 2014
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral
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