Developer: Camelot Software Planning Publisher: Nintendo
Like a spoiled child, there are many things I have wanted from Nintendo: A new entry to Star Fox, some form of revelation for the new Legend of Zelda, the impossible dream of having Banjo and Kazooie as playable characters in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. and perhaps a new IP among other things.
Recently, they gave me one thing I have wanted for quite some time, and it’s in the form of a new Mario Golf, the first club-swinging title to the series in 10 years. Mario Golf: World Tour for the 3DS is not only the first entry in the golf branch of Mario sports games in a while, but it’s also the first portable title to be in full 3D, giving players the same experience they can find on the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube iterations, and it’s an excellent experience at that.
For some mystifying reason, the Mario characters you know and love have set aside their differences to play golf like any ole chums. Using your Mii, players participate in an assortment of tournaments and challenges, but there is also an option to dive into single player modes, which leads to one of the game’s few – albeit minor – faults.
When you assume the role of your Mii, you are placed in the Castle Club, a locale where much of the game’s content is accessed. It’s here where you can enter tournaments both off and online, buy new gear and undertake challenges, but that’s where it ends.
The castle has different rooms for you to explore, but the content in them is hollowed out. Aside from the characters who repeat the same lines nearly every time you speak to them, it’s the only thing you will find in the rooms. They offer little to nothing to the experience, making it a wasted opportunity to expand upon the game. If you’re going to build a castle for your Mii to explore, why not provide reasons to venture through its halls other than simply accessing the courses? With a weight room, why not add a workout mini game to boost your Mii’s stats? For a lounge area/bar, why not offer the player the chance to purchase a drink to give them a temporary upgrade during a round of golf?
Making things further irritating is how roughly half of the game’s content is located in the single player portion, which you have to exit from the Castle Club to the main menu in order to access it. With such an unsaturated castle, it would have much more sense to either include the content from the single player in Castle Club or simply make everything accessible from a singular menu.
Aside these minor shortcomings, World Tour is on par (get it?) – if not better – than its console brethren, as there is not only a plethora of content, but fun ways to become the ultimate golfing machine as well.
The game features an excess number of challenges, some which are simultaneously fun and teach how to become a better golfer. One series of putting challenges, for example, places you in progressively difficult obstacles such making the hole more uphill or placing you at a farther distance, as these elements make all the difference when it comes to sinking the ball. But in addition to other training modes such as chipping, they are all performed at a perfect pace. No matter the player’s experience level, these challenges will transform anyone from a putting padawans to skilled swingers of the club. With dozens of holes to play on, ranging all across the skill level spectrum, you’ll be hard-pressed to either not get better or come across something worth your time and skill.
As you complete these challenges and courses, you will be rewarded coins, allowing you to purchase new customizable items for your Mii. These accessories are more than flare, however. As you unlock items from clubs to golf balls and clothes, they upgrade your Mii to give him stat boosts, giving World Tour somewhat of an RPG vibe. A long-sleeved shirt may increase how far you can hit the ball while a different golf ball may decrease the distance it will travel, but you are granted better control over your swings in return.
There are not only tons of items to unlock by simply playing the game, but they allow players to critique their character to the tee (get it?). While this may turn off some players, much of the unlockables provide the same type of stats, but this is done so the Mii can more tailored for the player. There have certainly been times in games such as Skyrim where I obtained awesome loot, making me a feared powerhouse across Tamriel, but I looked incredibly goofy when I wanted to look intimidating. Besides, the gameplay is so much fun, you may forget about playing through a course for that spiked hat.
A first-time feature to the series is online modes. Players have a slew of options to choose from when experiencing the game with other across the globe. There are choices to play with three other players both locally and online, participate in tournaments within your country or throughout the world and timed challenges, which come with accessory awards; not to mention you can see how you stack against fellow golfers with leaderboards. There are even options to not only create customizable matches, but build your own community as well, allowing like-minded players to set up matches with one another. It’s a great way to interact with those similar to your play style and interests.
If you don’t understand the terminology in golf or simply become more interested in the sport, World Tour provides a huge list of jargon for you to learn. While players may not go through the whole list, as it’s quite the doozy in length, developer Camelot Software should be commended for including such a feature for those willing to learn.
The 10-year wait may have been a bit agonizing for a Mario Golf fanatic such as myself, but the ointment that is Mario Golf: World Tour has healed my impatient wounds. It’s everything I love about the console games, which, in this case, is not only on the go and packed with wonderful visuals, but it contains additional elements as well. Playing as my Mii and unlocking accessories to improve its stats adds an interesting RPG elements to the game, keeping me coming back for more – not to mention the gameplay is all-around solid and addictive as it is. Despite thinking I was adept in the ways of Mario Golf, the challenge modes that trained me to become better did just what they were supposed to. I even learned a little bit more about the game in the process. It’s too bad the Castle Club is such a hollow and wasted feature that acts as more of an annoying obstacle than a new component to the game. Still, the 3DS has extended its stellar library of worthy titles once again with Mario Golf: World Tour. The money you will chip in for it (get it?) is well worth it.
+ Training challenges really teach the player
+ Tons of challenges off and online
+ RPG elements with Mii accessories
+ Inclusion of golf terminology
- Hollow Castle Club offers nothing outside course and challenge access
- Things pointlessly located in different menus
The Score: 9.3
Robbie Key is the Nintendo editor for Analog Addiction, entertainment editor and copy editor for the Pine Log at Stephen F. Austin State University, news editor for Worlds Factory and blogger for IGN. Follow his completely relevant Twitter updates, watch his awesometacular YouTube videos, and view his LinkedIn profile.