Tuesday 6 May 2014

Mario Golf: World Tour

Mario and the gang have done everything by now, right? From games focusing on kart racing, drawing, fighting, board games, education, role-playing, tennis, soccer, baseball and even the Olympics; you name it and Mario has done it! The only next logical step is Mario: The Gritty FPS, I assume. But while the reality of a Mario gunning down foes into a red sticky mess is thankfully very far off, for now Nintendo are once again tapping into one of Mario's more successful sports games; golf. I know, most golf games are incredibly crappy and boring, right? And don't get me wrong, Mario Golf: World Tour isn't exactly Mario Galaxy quality, but it's a surprisingly fun take on a sport that usually puts me to sleep.

Developed by Camelot Software Planning, the company behind the Shining Force series and the original Nintendo 64 Mario Golf title, comes Mario Golf: World Tour, the latest weapon in the Nintendo's 3DS' ever growing arsenal. Beyond the baseline rules of a typical game of golf set in place, World Tour throws in enough goofiness and power-ups to please any fan of the overweight Italian plumber. However, unlike some of the previous portable Mario Golf titles, World Tour includes no role-playing element to it. While this may be a disappointment for some, it ultimately streamlines the game and lets Camelot Software Planning purely focuses on the real meat of the game; golfing!

Without buying any download content, there are 13 default characters to play as, with an additional 4 to unlock over the course of the game. Each character here has very unique stats, so choosing the right one for the right course or play style is imperative. There are 10 levels to enjoy here and they, as expected from any self respecting Mario title, are cartoonish, beautifully designed, brim full of charm and a true joy to play. The biggest difference between World Tour and previous Mario Golf incarnations is the ability to use items to enhance your shots. From using the Ice Flower that creates sheets of ice whenever your ball touches a lake, Mushrooms that speed up your ball to a bob-omb that upon exploding in mid-air, drops your ball directly downwards. The latter is especially welcomed if, like me, you always overshoot the hole because of a rolling ball. This addition to the gameplay really puts a spin on the possibilities when competing against another player. Though the true focus and skill in World Tour comes from lining up a shot, maybe putting some back spin on it all the while watching the wind direction closely, the item power-ups throw the player a very Mario styled curve ball. It's an awesome addition.

There's also a new mode called Castle Club. While using your Mii in this mode you can take part in various tournaments that will test your skill at World Party (this is where the power-up items are very important!). You can also buy countless items for your Mii character to wear, from useful items such as balls and clubs to more vanity centric items like shirts, shoes and hats. It adds a fantastic layer of customization to World Tour, and one that hasn't been seen in the series so far. The Castle Club location itself is quite empty though, and beyond the fact that you'll meet characters who will give you golfing advice, they serve no further purpose. It's a shame and a complete waste of a potentially interesting hub world for World Tour.

Overall Mario Golf: World Tour is a very fun game. It's packed full of content which is only topped off by the fact that there are 100, yes, 100 challenges for you to partake in. This, on top of the already jam packed content in the game makes it the best entry in the series yet. I never quite enjoyed the series until now, but World Tour is a fantastic attempt at a portable golf title that doesn't completely suck.

Mario Golf: World Tour almost nabs a hole-in-one and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

Mario Golf: World Tour at CeX

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