User Rating: 9.2 | Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour GC
Like most games with the name “Mario” somewhere in the title, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour is above average. Everything about this game is executed to near perfection. Fans of Mario Golf 64 for the Nintendo 64 will find many familiar things returning, and most of them are improved. The light-hearted attitude may turn off a few of the more serious-minded gamers, but for most people, it will only make the game a joy to play. And this game will make gamers and golfers alike jump for joy. Mario Golf features a swing meter almost identical to that of the N64 version. One tap of a button starts the meter, a second tap determines the power, and a third tap decides how close to the center of the ball the club will make contact. A nice addition to this version is the automatic swing. By pressing the A button on the second tap, the third tap will be simulated randomly; this usually guarantees a fairly straight shot, although using the automatic swing prevents another new feature from being used. Extra topspin or backspin can be put on the ball by a button combination after the third tap of the manual swing. This greatly helps when the ball is in the sand or the rough, since the power of your swing could randomly be harder or softer than the swing meter shows. A little topspin or backspin can be added at the last minute to make up for that. This is just a sample of the strategy involved in this game. A lot of depth is hidden under the party-like fun atmosphere of Mario Golf, and Camelot did an excellent job of making all necessary information available onscreen at all times. Wind speed, distance and altitude from the ball to the hole, and maximum distance each club can hit are just a few of the many numbers seen on the screen at once. One very helpful feature is the optimum shot path. A dotted line arcs from the ball to the spot on the course where the ball will land with a perfect swing. This doesn’t take wind or roll into account. The camera is worth mentioning because it has a few problems. Viewing the landing area of your ball is very easy, but viewing any other part of the course isn’t as simple. An above-course view can be used, but it’s so high above the course that it doesn’t always help. Also, the view after putting is terrible. Instead of focusing on the ball, the camera focuses on the player, allowing the ball to sometimes roll off the screen. This is more of an annoyance than anything, but it could have been fixed. Six regular courses and one par-three course make up the playing field. The design of the courses starts from realistic and gradually makes its way to zany. Another way of putting it is that the courses start in the real world, but they gradually get farther away until they reach the Mushroom Kingdom. The Mushroom Kingdom courses are tough but extremely fun and imaginative. A dozen or so modes can be used to play each of the courses. The basic tournament mode is a single-player competition to rank number one amongst over two dozen imaginary golfers. Stroke, match, and skins are also available as staple golf modes. The ring attack and club slots modes are back from the N64 version, as well. Two new modes of play are Coin Attack and Doubles, a great multiplayer tag-team style game. Because of the simplicity of the controls and the many modes, Mario Golf is an excellent game to play with friends. The atmosphere and graphics are astounding. The music adds to the atmosphere by being relaxed at times, intense during a putt, or melancholy after a bad hole. Some classic Mario themes also make a triumphant return. The game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second with individually swaying blades of grass and moving trees. Beautiful special effects are added to the ball when a shot is perfect, such as a rainbow for Yoshi and a fireball for Bowser. The Mario gang has never looked better. Remember those CG renderings of Mario and friends in magazines or instruction manuals? The character models in Mario Golf look exactly like those renderings. Sixteen characters to master, tons of modes, and meticulous data recording make Mario Golf a lasting purchase. It is incredibly fun to play alone or with friends. Any fan of golf will love the depth and strategy of this game, and any fan of Mario will love the fun atmosphere and simple controls. Once again, Mario turns something rather mundane into an amazingly fun experience.