Set your eye on the albatross prize with Mario Golf: Super Rush as you putt in style for the first time on the Nintendo Switch. Will you dash to success in the reimagined mode Speed Golf, or will you take on the wild weather in the return of story mode with Adventure Golf? Whatever your play style, Super Rush has you covered. But will the latest title in the series be a birdie or a bogey? Let’s find out…
Golf is renowned to be one of the most difficult sports to master. Not only is there a high barrier to entry, requiring individuals to sink many hours into the sport to gain proficiency, but it also demands sufficient financial backing to even gain a footing. For those who want an easier, more relaxed road to a hole-in-one, Mario Golf has certainly been much more forgiving over the years. However, the series is not without challenge, giving many of its seasoned veteran golfers some excellent Mario themed courses combined with increasingly difficult tasks that required precision, skill and accuracy to complete. Yet while Mario Golf has had its considerable ups and downs, the series has never truly surpassed its ‘golden age’ of games between Mario Golf on the N64 and Toadstool Tour on the GameCube. Now, Mario Golf: Super Rush on the Nintendo Switch is both challenging the status quo with fast-paced Speed Golf and returning to its roots with a story mode.
Bringing four modes and 16 characters to the fairway, developer Camelot Software Planning has delivered a well-rounded golfing experience to the Switch. Putt with precision in standard golf and hone your skills with the time or score attack modes in solo play, hop into battle golf with a choice of either strategic or technical gameplay, or dash your way to victory in the time- and luck-based Speed Golf. And finally, there’s Adventure Golf where you start as a rookie and rise through the six badge ranks available to become a seasoned pro.
For both newcomers and veteran players, Adventure Golf is the best place to start. Here, you’ll learn the basics of golf (power, spin and control), how to skim water with low trajectory shots, use your power shot to blast through obstacles, and even master the way of the ‘duff’ as part of a comical nod to Yoda. Yet despite a promising opening to the campaign, the 6- to 8-hour story loses its way and quickly descends into the rough.
Without spoiling too much of the campaign, many of Adventure Golf’s regular tournaments have unfortunately been cancelled due to the bad weather of late. This means all that’s available to your Mii character (there is no option to select from the Mario character repertoire) is cross-country golf and speed golf across all five themed courses. Armed with a standard set of golf clubs, your Mii will venture from Bonny Greens all the way into the Bowser Highlands to discover the mystery behind the wild weather. Between thunder and lightning at Wild Weather Woods, insufferable heat at Balmy Dunes and the frozen tundra covering Bowser’s usual hardwearing territory, there are plenty of challenges (and frustrations) to face when progressing through the ranks. These include navigating through speed traps and tornadoes in cross-country golf and avoiding lightning strikes or pools of water in speed golf within a set time limit. Talk about pressure!
Fortunately, you are rewarded after every golf session – no matter if you complete or fail the challenge. Time spent on the green will be converted into experience points to increase your Mii’s level. You can quickly go from zero to hero by spending your level-up points in five areas: power, stamina, speed, spin and control. How you spend your points is up to you, though after each session you’ll be required to lock these in, so think carefully and plan ahead. It’s also worth noting that coins earned during your adventure – and on completion of challenges – can be spent in any of the Golf Clubhouses to purchase attire and additional golf clubs, which offer distinct advantages for each course.
While Adventure Golf is a visual treat and offers up some interesting CPU-based challenges, its major downfall is in its half-baked storyline. Characters that you start with on your adventure – namely Toadette, Boo and Chargin’ Chuck – seem to vanish into thin air by the second half. They are promptly replaced by Wario and Waluigi, who are portrayed as creepy weird looking men trying to locate a mysterious treasure hidden by some ethereal spirit in the mountain. And the handful of boss fights you do encounter, while they are entertaining, don’t offer any real depth to the gameplay. In short, the writing is as haphazard as the storms at Wildweather Woods – completely off-balance with the occasional flash of brilliance.
Mario Golf: Super Rush does, however, live up to its name and places the emphasis on speed in up to three of its four modes. While Adventure Golf, Speed Golf and Battle Golf all have their unique quirks, they all require players to be fast, precise and competent with their shots (or just really lucky!). In Speed Golf, players will be required to hit their ball, then utilise special dashes to run faster across the terrain to reach its landing, with the aim to sink their ball in the lowest number of turns. Tied to a stamina bar, special dashes are unique to each character in the mushroom kingdom and enable players to knock over their opponents if they happen to collide, slowing them down. And with timing key in Speed Golf, being fast could mean the difference between a win or loss. The question is, will you sacrifice accuracy to save on time?
Speed Golf is an excellent change of pace for the Mario Golf series and is arguably much more fun when you play in local or online multiplayer with friends. Battle Golf is similar in its appeal, with the main objective to ‘hole-out’ three times before any other player, all while avoiding special shots, enemies and obstacles. In addition, there’s also the option to play with ‘Super Rush’ on in this mode, which counts down to a hilarious sequence of raining eggs, bob-ombs, icicles and super stars, diversifying the game mechanics with major thrills. Yet with only two arena options – technical or strategic – there’s limited choice available currently. Thankfully, online play was experienced without any technical hitches, but we have yet to encounter the servers when they are at full capacity. Of course, there are plenty of options for players to customise tournaments and, with the promise of regular updates from Nintendo, we’ll hopefully see many more courses, arenas and playable characters added in the near future.
For players who want a much more traditional and relaxed experience, Standard Golf is also on offer and plays wonderfully in docked and handheld mode, albeit with slightly hampered visuals on the latter. This mode is an excellent way to hone your skills across each of the courses and get to grips with power, spin and control. Special shots can also be utilised here too, so there’s ample opportunity to discover each character’s unique ability. For example, Luigi uses ice to freeze areas, Yoshi lays an egg and turns opponents’ balls into rocks, while your Mii will simply blast away balls from the area. Like with any other mode though, the 18-hole courses soon get repetitive and quickly lose their appeal. Here, Super Rush is best suited for one-hour pick up and play sessions.
For a game that values speed, precision and a little bit of luck, playing with motion controls in Super Rush is not for the faint-hearted. In fact, the motion controls were so off kilter, we didn’t even entertain the thought of using them in Adventure, Speed or Battle Golf modes. If you’re familiar with golf vernacular, playing with motion controls feels like an automatic handicap. There’s a much steeper learning curve to understanding motion control gameplay in comparison to standard button controls. However, if you do persist the pay off can be excellent, it just takes an arm and a leg to get there. Unfortunately, I have neither the time or the patience to do so – unlike my partner who somehow sunk a birdie while I achieved a triple bogey or worse!
With speed taking precedence, Mario Golf: Super Rush is for players who want to experience the thrills of golf at quadruple the pace. However, traditional Mario Golf fans may feel snubbed here as there is little challenge outside standard golf and solo play, with character unlocks and incentives completely excluded. Perhaps with the promise of continuous updates due to its rather limited base game, Super Rush may feel less one-sided, though for now it values velocity over proficiency – the complete antithesis to real-life golf. Not quite an eagle, almost a birdie, but absolutely on par.
A review copy of Mario Golf: Super Rush was provided to My Nintendo News by Nintendo UK.