First – You should know that I love golf games. Hot Shots, Mario, Tiger Woods, The Golf Club, I play them all. Being a golfer and having played competitively I value the game-play as well as the attention to the sport. With that said – I logged more time into Mario Golf: World Tour than any other game in 2014. In 2015, I logged another 25 hours and still compete in a tournament each week here in 2016. That alone doesn’t mean its the best game ever, but it does convey how much replay value can be found inside Mario Golf World Tour. There’s no extending narrative or a bunch of hidden Mario lore. If you don’t like golf or aren’t a big Nintendo fan you shouldn’t finish this review, this game isn’t for you. However, if you’re a golf fan or a general Nintendo fan you’re going to find a great deal of video game fun with Mario Golf World Tour.
What’s So Good
Gameplay mechanics are spot on for all golf game fans. The player can use the 3DS button inputs to set aim, power, and accuracy or the player can use the touchscreen for the inputs as well as shot types. Once the shot has been started, the 3DS’ touchscreen has inputs that allow for backspin, super backspin, topspin, or super topspin. The combination usually translates to the player using the A button to set power and accuracy before using the touchscreen to apply backspin or topspin. Combined, the controls are very intuitive and very Mario Golf / Hot Shots Golf esque.
Fans of Nintendo IP and the Mario Golf series will find everything they’re looking for with Nintendo themed courses (don’t worry golfers there are the generic forest, mountain, and island courses also). There are Bowser flame spouting towers, chomp chomp lined fairways, and golf ball eating Plant Piranhas to be found in Mario Golf’s array of courses. Those that remember the origins of the Mario Golf and Mario Tennis series will be glad to hear that the old RPG-lite mechanic of building up your golfer (characterized by your Mii) is back. You’ll earn equipment and money that you can use in the shop to upgrade your stats and shot shapes (draw, fade, straight). Given the unlockables, upgrades, online play, and game-play, Mario Golf offers some of the best return value in replay-ability that can be found on the 3DS. You’ll be playing this game for the life of your 3DS in my opinion, so make sure you get the digital copy as this is something you’re going to want to have on board.
In Mario Golf World Tour there is much more to do than playing the typical stroke play golf tournament over and over again. World Tour offers various modes and tasks aimed to keep you on the tee box. First, there is a challenge mode. These challenges aren’t new to the golfing game: ring challenges, random club slot machine, score challenges, speed golf, and match play events against other characters will net you a challenge coin for each victory. Earn enough coins and you’ll unlock new courses with new challenges and additional golfers. There are over a 100 challenges to keep you entertained and attempting to get each one will present quite the challenge. In my 128 hours of playing this game; I’ve only managed to attain 61 challenge coins (of which has unlocked all courses and characters). The second mode you’ll want to get into is online tournament play. Using other player ghost data, MGWT is one of (if not) the best Nintendo games to use online play to date. Tournaments open for a period of time, usually a week, and allow players to play as many rounds needed to post the best score possible. This is perfect for “pick up and play / on the go” 3DS gaming as you can complete an 18 hole round of golf within an hour easily. There are also mode driven online tournaments such as coin challenges and the slot machine challenges. These shorter tournament formats can easily be completed in less than 10 minutes. Lastly, MGWT also offers a versus mode that allows friends to play together online or via local play. The game again uses ghost data to show what other players are doing on any given hole without you having to actually wait for each party member to complete their shot. This is a great way to play golf as it allows players to play at their own pace as long as the party members are all online at the same time.
The $40 retail price for Mario Golf World tour nets the consumer 10 courses to play with most of the characters you would imagine. Mario Golf World Tour has the distinction of being the first Nintendo game to offer a season pass for DLC (downloadable content). The pass costs $15 dollars and will net the consumer an additional 6 courses and 4 characters (Rosalina, Nabbit, Gold Mario, and Toadette). The DLC is completely optional but I would recommend the purchase. The characters are take it or leave it but the DLC courses are some of the most challenging Mario-Arcadie courses that many have come to expect in the series.
What’s Not So Good
The user interface is confusing. There is an over-world to explore instead of a basic “select golfer & course” menu. This world has a garden that leads to different courses, a nice one shot challenge, and the tournament hub and is graphically very appealing. Although, I am still not sure why I have to walk around so much to get where I’m going.
$40+ (if you opt for the DLC) can be a steep price if you don’t like golf compared to competitors.
While I value those opinions that judge a game based on its merit as a game alone, I think it is equally important to judge any product in relation to its market to provide a full appreciation for the consumer.
Mario Golf can be had for 29.99 on the eShop, $23 new & used from Amazon and the DLC will run you $14.99. Purchasing all will gain you 16 courses, 21 characters, and special items.
The first competitor to mention is Let’s Golf 3D as it is also available on the 3DS eShop. Let’s Golf 3D is available for less than $10. While a fine game on its own, comparing Let’s Golf 3D to Mario Golf World Tour in game-play and graphics just isn’t applicable. You get what you pay for and Mario Golf has much more content and polish to offer than Let’s Golf. A more direct competitor would be Hot Shots Golf for the Vita. HSG on Vita can be obtained for less than $10 (used) on Amazon / Gamestop and offers very similar game-play content but with less polish and less modes found in Mario Golf World Tour. The age between Hot Shots Golf (2012) and Mario Golf (2014) shows quite a bit as Mario Golf’s art style and mechanic is superior.
Better than Par!
Mario Golf World Tour is the private country club of golf video games. Sure, Mario Golf will cost you more $$ to play than competing games but the experience in the end is just better compared to public courses. That aside, this is as good as Mario sports gets and a must have for 3DS owners.