Review

Mario Golf: World Tour Review

  • Game release: May 2, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • 3DS
Stace Harman on Google+

On par.

Mario Golf: World Tour deftly illustrates the pleasures of a humble game of golf: the careful ritual of checking the speed of the wind, assessing the lie of the ball, and puzzling over the perfect club for the job at hand. Its disjointed structure makes it less accessible than it should be, but this is a game built upon the simple satisfaction of golf mixed with the goofy charm of Nintendo's most popular mascots, and for the most part, it succeeds in delivering an endearing and fun experience.

There is, however, a disconnect between the "serious" side of Mario Golf and its all-out wacky side, and it's largely down to how the game is split into two distinct areas, which quickly come to feel at odds with one another. The first is the Castle Club, where you play exclusively as your Mii against the backdrop of a lavish country club. There you're free to mingle with the familiar Nintendo faces wandering the halls, shop at the boutique, visit the gym, and partake in a spot of tea in the Royal Room, but there's no real interaction permitted with Mario and Co, who exist only as NPCs in this mode. The castle and its cast are twee in a way that only Mario and friends can be, but Castle Club mode also serves a practical purpose, with its grounds playing host to a number of practice courses, handicap tournaments, and ad hoc challenges that teach you the basics of play.

Castle Club is where you find the game's three "serious" courses--Forest, Seaside, and Mountain--each of which hosts a tournament that must be won to progress to the next. Unfortunately, these courses are largely forgettable, particularly in comparison to the game's more exotic, themed offerings, and none of them feature the challenging layouts or undulating greens that seasoned video game golf players might hope for. I had little desire to return to any of them after winning each of the 18-hole tournaments, and the manner in which you're forced to unlock each tournament in order feels unnecessarily restrictive.

More troubling, though, is how Castle Club is an entirely separate entity from World Tour's more arcade-style offers in Mario Golf. A comprehensive series of practice sessions explain how elevation, ball lie, and wind affect shot selection. But while the challenges on offer at the Castle Club highlight the importance of skillful play, the courses unlocked in Mario Golf mode can be won and lost through the use of power-ups and novelty items, which is jarring after being taught the sport in a more serious manner. Still, once you've got to grips with the likes of Bullet Bills, Bob-ombs, and speed pads, courses like the candy-hued Peach Gardens and the coral-decorated underwater holes of Cheep Cheep Lagoon provide some thoroughly entertaining and humorous moments.

There's a satisfying sense of improvement across the game as a whole as you start to grasp the mechanics and begin experimenting with spin, draw and fade, and variable carry distances. Its basic three-button-press system sees the familiar use of a power bar to set the strength of the shot, and a sweet spot to land a perfect swing. It's a simple system, and because you're also given a generous degree of leeway, you rarely go too far off target. While this means you can confidently tackle more nuanced approach shots and delicate chips, it greatly reduces the element of risk; straying over par due to poor play is a rare occurrence.

The sheer charm of World Tour and its collection of classic Nintendo characters and environmental details go a long way towards keeping you entertained, though. There's a 12-strong cast of familiar faces to play as in Mario Golf mode, including the likes of the always lovable Mario and Luigi. Seeing them compete in a clutch of fun single-player modes that include stroke and match play, speed golf against the clock, and point play while they spout their classic catchphrases never fails to raise a smile.

It helps that there's lots to do too. There are versus options, numerous tournaments, and a series of challenges, some of which test your skill while others focus heavily on the use of power-ups. Sending your ball floating through the air over longer distances, or skimming across a handily placed speed pads feel great, at least once you've figured out what you're supposed to be doing with them. Challenges that incorporate them include completing a series of holes while hitting the ball through oversized rings, smacking moles out the ground, using a random selection of clubs, or competing against one of the 12 AI characters to unlock his or her Star Player equivalent (a more powerful but trickier to control version of the basic character).

Every round that you complete--be it in tournament play or in challenges--earns you coins to spend on gear and equipment in the castle boutique. Clubs, balls, and attire can be purchased to tweak your Mii's appearance as well as basic power and control stats, which is often helpful in getting past a particularly tricky shot, should you get stuck. It's a shame that World Tour isn’t easier to navigate, though. For all the effort that's gone into creating a central thematic hub with the Castle Club, having to back out of it to play a few rounds in Mario Golf mode feels unnecessarily cumbersome. Having everything accessible in one place rather than having to travel back and forth via the main menu screen would have made the game much more coherent.

Mario Golf: World Tour revels in power-ups and fantastical courses, while frequently breaking its offerings into a series of portable-friendly bite-sized chunks that have you flitting from one exotic course to another. There's a lot of fun to be had here, and with classic Nintendo characters backing up the action, World Tour is a thoroughly charming game too. What a shame, then, that it lacks the cohesion and refinement to make those sometimes-brilliant moments easier to digest and access. But if you can plough through the awkwardness, and get to grips with its seemingly endless array of powerups, you'll find an enjoyable and loveable game of golf.

Editor's Note: Online functionality was unavailable at the time of review. Online modes available at launch will be versus and tournament play with friends, local territory, and worldwide player bases.

Stace Harman on Google+
The Good
Solid golfing mechanics reward player improvement
Varied courses with individual aesthetics
Wide range of content
The Bad
Only three so-so courses unlocked from the start
Powerups and special courses are poorly explained
Clunky menu navigation
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Stace Harman has been playing video game golf for more than two decades, and played close to 20 hours of Mario Golf: World Tour for this review. The Vita version of Everybody's Golf is a mainstay of his handheld gaming, and he has very fond memories of 2004's Mario Golf on the GBA.

Discussion

59 comments
SNESNOSTALGIA2
SNESNOSTALGIA2

Amazing game. Played it practically every day since it's come out. Great for bite sized play or long session tournaments online.

btroof
btroof

they need to re-review this... now that the online is up and running

kereke12
kereke12

I played the demo and I have to say for me not liking golf. The game seems very entertaining. I enjoyed every minute of it. The 3D effects on it is pretty good, could do better. But who knows the 3D effect could be better on Full game. But other then that the game is a worth checking out.

gladchimer93
gladchimer93

Thanks for the review.

I am actually really in the mood for an arcade-y sports game, and I have never played any of the Mario Sports games before, so maybe this will be my first. If it were on Wii U, I would probably already own it. It being on the 3DS worries me just a little bit, especially since I have lots of time to play it at home anyway. I'll just assume that its length will satisfy me either way.

Also, I haven't played Mario Tennis Open, so I'll actually have to read your review on that game and see whether or not I should get that one instead.

atopp399
atopp399

Would have been a great Wii U game.  The campaign is sooo short though.  I am not sure I want to buy a game that seems so focused online.

advocacy
advocacy

Please do a review of "Disney Magical World." Thank you.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

Given Golf and Tennis are on 3DS, maybe Baseball and especially Strikers will be on Wii U. Next Level games already finished Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon, maybe they are working on it, im anxious given they have a talent for giving personality to Mario characters.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

This game is practically better than the Gamecube game, with its more content and interesting courses and online set up, yet you review it before online can take off, we'll forgive you this time since your a freelancer.


Seriously though, as a Mario Tennis fan im jealous, Mario Golf gets a full treatment and is flat out better than the Gamecube game while we had a rather decent but lackluster Mario Tennis Open, you Mario Golf fans enjoy this game as you can cause its awesome for you.

metallinatus
metallinatus

Never played a Mario Golf, but I had lots of funs with Mario Tennis on N64.... it would be nice to have one of that on the WIi U.

trugs26
trugs26

Why release a review before playing the entire game? I hope this is a preliminary review, and a new one will go up when they play through the online modes.

Reviews are supposed to help people decide on whether they should buy the game. Reviewing a game this early without experience a potentially significant portion of the game is really misleading.

mariokarthero
mariokarthero

I really think Nintendo should release a Mario Golf for Wii and Wii U

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

*Sigh* - I forget to remove the "www" from the URLs which I pasted in an earlier post and it gets auto-moderated. :|

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

First freelance review at GameSpot, Mr. Harman?

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

Stop.  With.  The.  Miis.  Enough already.

wEEman33
wEEman33

I'm still waiting for Mario Hockey. 


And no, the half-baked minigames in those Winter Olympics travesties don't count. 

diego_corleone
diego_corleone

Mario Kart, Golf, Tennis, Soccer....

Nintendo is so creative, but no.

Superzone
Superzone

I'm highly considering getting this.  Love me some Mario Golf.

btroof
btroof

Why not Wii U Nintendo damit!

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

Now Mario is golfing as well?  How many sports or other activities are they going to have this guy do?  What's next, 'Mario Chess' or  'Mario Accounting'?  

They need to do a game where Mario is a cop in an open-world sandbox game, that would be new.  They can drive around their carts from Mario Cart, whatever, just do something interesting.

quickshooterMk2
quickshooterMk2

i really want nintendo to give us the GBA library for the 3DS 


and don't give me that shit of "use emulators" no i want the GBA library without resorting to piracy

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

The old, more credible Gamespot would have waited for the online functionality to be working, before they allowed a review to be posted. Also, what's with all these no name, fly by night freelancers you guys have writing your reviews these days? The only editors that seem to regularly review games here now are Kevin Van Ord and Tom McShea. Too many freelancers are destroying the little cred you guys had left.... and it was very little.

zakkaz666
zakkaz666

 "Editor's Note: Online functionality was unavailable at the time of review. Online modes available at launch will be versus and tournament play with friends, local territory, and worldwide player bases."


So why not wait for the proper game release to publish the review? More pageviews instead of quality journalism? 

SNESNOSTALGIA2
SNESNOSTALGIA2

They won't because its a Nintendo game. They finally re review a game and its for Titanfall the most hyped game I ever saw in my life. They did it for clicks. They don't do it because its the right thing to do.

HowlPendragon
HowlPendragon

@hotdiddykong  I actually wouldn't say its better than the Gamecube game.

I just downloaded the demo and I found it a bit more confusing to control due to the having less buttons available and there are a lot less options to control camera angles to see how to get your shot perfect.

That said, it still feels pretty familiar, I'll definitely be buying it some day. I have to try Mario Tennis too :P

ExtremePhobia
ExtremePhobia

@trugs26  While normally I'd agree, I'm going to play devil's advocate here. Unlike really any other major sport, the only reason why you are "competing" with someone is because at the end of 18 holes, you compare scores. However, if you could replicate a major golf course anywhere in the world (including wind conditions of course) and then just play 18 holes completely independently of each other. Having the other person there doesn't actually change the results in any way (though the social experience is a key factor, that has more to do with who you are playing with than the game itself).

diego_corleone
diego_corleone

@Gelugon_baat

That's a good excuse, you should read the terms and conditions for the comments section. You forgot that too?

Furwings
Furwings

@spacecadet25   I actually really like your idea of an open-world, sandbox Mario game, but kept within the context of the Mario universe. Jump in a random cart from Mario Kart, acquire power-ups and items from all past Mario games, go into shops to buy/trade stuff from Mario RPG/Paper Mario, go golfing, play some tennis, baseball or soccer, talk to a bunch of NPC's from every Mario game ever made, but it's all non-linear, mission-based, you can go anywhere etc.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@ChiefFreeman

Also, "cred" is a weasel word. There is nothing documented evidence of any standard for measuring "cred", which in itself is already a heavily opinionated notion.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

@zakkaz666  If they did that, in this day and age of gaming, most games wouldn't be reviewed until they were out for a week at least. Hell, GTAV would have had to wait almost a month for a "real" review. 

nandosmc
nandosmc

@zakkaz666  So that people can get a review of the game before they decide to buy it? I want to know whether a product is worth my money.

YearoftheSnake5
YearoftheSnake5

@zakkaz666  

The review should have been delayed to include content regarding the online mode. No sense in releasing a review that isn't comprehensive.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@ChiefFreeman

So does yours. :/ 

With that said, if you haven't noticed already, there has been quite a lot of freelance reviews in the recent years, and they are likely to keep coming, whether you like it or not.

Maybe you should consider leaving, since it isn't likely that your complaint would be heeded anytime soon.

WoodenStick
WoodenStick

@Gelugon_baat Nintendolife reviewed the game but delayed the score until the multiplayer is up and running.


How is it "asking" for Money?


have you played it? *shakes head*

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@WoodenStick @YearoftheSnake5@zakkaz666 

I don't agree.

I would prefer a review article to come out as early as possible, if only as a third-party source of information, to inform people of missing features.
The game is already asking for money - money for features which aren't even there yet.

Mario Golf: World Tour More Info

  • Released
    • 3DS
    Mario Golf: World Tour is a golfing game for the Nintendo 3DS that includes both simple controls and a deeper experience for golf fans, plus courses that range from traditional to those inspired by the Mushroom Kingdom.
    6.9
    Average User RatingOut of 7 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Mario Golf: World Tour
    Developed by:
    Camelot Software Planning
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genres:
    Golf, Sports, Arcade
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    Comic Mischief