Mario Golf: World Tour Review (3DS)

I’ve talked before about how Mario Golf first got its claws into me, back when it was released on the Game Boy Colour. The pick up and play gameplay lived alongside some light RPG inspired elements that kept me captivated for hours at a time. It’s been well over a decade since that first portable outing, but we’ve seen the series several times since, with Mario Golf: World Tour for the 3DS the latest appearance.

Upon booting up the game you are presented with two options; the first being a Quick Round. In this you’ll get the chance to play a singles match, tournament or a verses match, either via local or online play. The singles match is a useful way to hone your skills before taking on the main campaign.

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However, it’s within the Castle Club that the bulk of the action takes place. Where Quick Round has you picking from a cast of Nintendo favorites, Castle Club personalizes things, letting you take control of your Mii. This is the character you’ll be using and customizing for the entire time.

The castle acts as a hub, with the lobby leading to various doors, each taking you to a different activity. One place you’ll be visiting quite frequently is the shop, which is where you can buy a vast array of clothing and accessories (once unlocked), with many altering the stats of your Mii.

While it’s hardly a full-on RPG in terms of depth, you do have to pay attention to what you’re buying, as it isn’t as easy as just equipping the latest gear you’ve unlocked. Some may increase your power, but lower your control, so what you end up equipping will very much depend on your play style. Of course, some items are just there to make you look good. I mean, who wouldn’t want a Hammer Bros. visor?

This process of creating a better Mii is actually quite addictive, with the drive to unlock bigger and better equipment ever-present. Nintendo is also using this as the bait to get people to enter their online tournaments, which we’ll get to later on. Needless to say, it’s a clever addition.

Of course, all this gear doesn’t come for free so you’ll be wanting to head outside to enter some tournaments and earn some money. Before you can do this, you’ll be asked to play a round on the easiest course to assess your handicap, but once this is done, you are free to roam around, chat to the many NPCs wandering about and start making a name for yourself.

Those who have played a golf game before will find the control scheme very familiar. Automatic mode is beginner friendly, as all you need to do is watch the power bar and hit the correct button as the bar reaches the sweet spot. While you may just be content to stick with this, if you want to progress in the harder tournaments, you’ll have to switch to manual control.

Manual control makes you responsible for not only the power, but also the various types of spin and curve you can place on the ball. If done correctly you’ll hit a much better shot than with the automatic controls, but if you slip up it can be disastrous and potentially ruin your score for the whole tournament. It’s certainly a gamble!

It might look cute and cuddly, but this is a game with quite the learning curve and you certainly won’t be mastering it in just a few goes. Practice really does make perfect though, and with each round you’ll notice an improvement in how you play and, more importantly, your understanding of how things work.

You’ll start to get a feel for how each hole is set out, and how much adjustment is necessary when putting on a gradient, or driving into the wind. Also, watch out for wet grass – it’s a total pain and will slow your ball much more than you think! You’ll also learn that following the game’s suggestions isn’t always the best idea and change clubs to suit. It’s at this point that the game really comes into its own.

Initially there are just three courses to play through, but several additional Mushroom Kingdom themed courses are unlocked as you progress, in addition to upcoming DLC. There are also a number of challenges to take part in (which should vastly improve your game), as well some “one shot, one putt” levels which are incredibly challenging. Hats off to anyone who can complete these!

The normal courses are well designed, with the various weather effects adding another layer of challenge. As you might expect, the courses based around the Mushroom Kingdom are a bit wackier, with all manner of traps and hazards, as well as power-ups and coins dotted around the place.

Once you’ve exhausted the single player options, there’s the fantastic online mode to get stuck into. The feature that has been spoken about the most is the national and worldwide tournaments. These range from a standard 18 hole game, to speed golf and driving contests, with the European tournament schedule already full up until August.

As you complete the tournament, your data is uploaded to Nintendo’s server, but it’s only once the tournament period has ended that there is an award ceremony where every participant gets a prize and you’ll find out where your final ranking. While technically you’re never playing against anyone in real time, other player’s ghost data is imported into your game, so you can see how you are doing against your competitors..

Graphically, World Tour is a treat. While the main courses look good, it’s the Mushroom Kingdom themed ones that stand out, with big, bold characters and all manner of effects going on. It’s all to the level of quality we’ve all come to expect from a Mario game. Unfortunately, the camera can be a pain, especially when putting. Your Mii blocks the view of the pin, requiring the camera to be adjusted a few times.

My biggest gripe, and something I mentioned in my preview last month, is with the sound effects – particularly the character voices. They are used constantly, and I find them extremely irritating. Whether it’s Luigi shouting “WEEGEE!” at every given opportunity, or your Mii spouting “WOAAAH…WAHEEEY!”, I wish you could turn them off. Sadly, you can’t.

What’s Good:

  • Looks great.
  • Familiar golfing gameplay that works very well.
  • Lots of content to unlock and experiment with.
  • Online tournaments.

What’s Bad:

  • The camera can be really quite awkward.
  • Very irritating sound effects.

Niggles aside, I’ve really enjoyed my time with Mario Golf: World Tour. Despite feeling a little light on main courses, there’s more than enough content on offer, coupled with a great online mode and the usual Nintendo visual flair. This is a game that will keep you busy for quite some time.

Score: 8/10

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5 Comments

  1. Great review, I’ll definitely pick it up at some point this summer. The demo sold me, to be honest. How’s the difficulty?

    No mention of Nintendos first season pass? There’s three packs of DLC, each with two new courses (all remakes of the N64 ones) which almost doubles the number of “stages”/holes, and one additional character (Toadette, Nabbit and Rosalina respectively).

    You can buy them separately or with the season pass, and save a little bit off the total price. If you buy all of them you also get Gold Mario as playable.

    The first pack is out day one, second one towards the end of May, and the last in June. Separate, each pack is €5.99 or £5.39. The season pass is €14.99 / £13.49, but will be discounted until May 31st for £11.99 / £10.79.

    • It’s mentioned that there’s upcoming DLC but I don’t think it’s necessary to detail it in full in a review of the game at launch.

      • I can fully understand that, it being a review of the base game. (May I suggest a seperate follow-up for the DLC?)

        I felt it needed a mention since the game is below full price to begin with, the DLC being such a significantly large part of the full package and being out day one. Feel free to delete my comment if you think it could be considered harmful to the review, I don’t want to sound like I’m lecturing or anything. Just trying to be helpful and informative. :-)

      • Yeah, we’ll of course try to see if we can do anything for upcoming content if there’s interest, which you’ve shown!

        That’s fine! Your comment was helpful, and perfectly acceptable – I’m really interested and surprised that Nintendo are doing DLC such as this too – I didn’t mean to come across like that, I was just quickly giving reasons for not covering it in the review :)

  2. Great stuff. Demo was solid so it was a buy for me anyway.

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