Tee off, plumber style!

It’s been ten years since the last Mario Golf title, Advance Tour, graced our GBAs with its charming role-playing presence, so it’s high time we were due another entry in the beloved Mario sports series. Thankfully, Camelot have stepped up to the tee once again with Mario Golf: World Tour on the 3DS, so polish your irons and find out why the latest in the series should be the latest title in your 3DS library.

First of all, World Tour actually does away with the series’ RPG elements to focus purely on the golfing experience. This will undoubtedly disappoint fans of Camelot’s unique approach to Nintendo’s sports titles, but this is made up for with the best golfing mechanics the series has seen to date.

There are two main modes in World Tour: there’s your standard Mario Golf mode where you can play solo or with friends, allowing you to play the game’s courses with Mario and pals with various rule sets including stroke play and nearest to the pin. This mode also features challenges that unlock the bulk of the game’s unlockable content, but more on those later. The more interesting of the two modes is the Castle Club mode, wherein you’ll play as your personal Mii and attempt to conquer the club’s three main courses to impress the judgemental gaze of Mario, Peach, Luigi, Wario, Bowser and others. Well, not so much Wario; he’s just there for the free buffet.

Party animal Daisy is invited to tear up the course with her controversial playstyle.

Party animal Daisy is invited to tear up the course with her controversial playstyle.

King of the Castle

Castle Club Mode starts out easy enough; you’re encouraged to play the straightforward Forest Course, which wouldn’t look out of place in your average Tiger Woods game. Next is the slightly more challenging Seaside Course, where the winds are strong and water hazards are as common as the bunkers. Finally, there’s the difficult Mountain Course, with even stronger winds coupled with steep shifts in terrain. Winning the championship on each course is not an easy task, but you can unlock and buy various outfits and gear that will have slight effects on your golfing ability. These items certainly won’t drastically reduce the game’s difficulty, but they can often help if you’re after that slight increase in your character’s effectiveness.

Aside from the courses, the Castle Club offers a suite of other modes and features. You can swing by the golf shop to buy the aforementioned gear that will help you on your road to glory, there’s also the Entry Floor divided into two online modes: regional and global. These give various rewards just for completing the scheduled tournaments. What’s more interesting is the rewards given to more skilled players in these tournaments; top ranking tournament players are invited to high-level Castle Tournaments with big coin payouts. Through this, Nintendo have created an active competitive community through World Tour’s online functions, and while interactivity between players is the bare minimum, the feeling of bettering oneself through online play is a lot more welcoming a prospect.

Mr. Iwata isn't the best golfer around, so please understand.

Mr. Iwata isn’t the best golfer around, so please understand.

Gold Jacket, Green Jacket

The game also features several special courses based on locations from the Mushroom Kingdom. These courses require more thought and shot creativity to best them, often featuring things like collectible coins, boost pads and items that affect both the ball and course. The numerous characters from the Mario universe are present once again and all have varying stats like your Mii, but with the added benefit of their shot type: be that fade, straight or draw shots. Certain types of shots are more beneficial than others on certain courses so it’s best to experiment with multiple characters. This encouraged me to select from a range of characters instead of sticking with just one or two, like I would with Mario Kart or Mario Tennis.

Of course it’s not just your shot type that will determine where the ball lands. You’ll have to contest with wind, as well as slopey terrain which will affect the distance of your shots. You can set your shots to either auto or manual, with manual allowing you greater control over your swings, granting additional benefits such as top spin or back spin, but also making way for much less leniency – if you mess up a shot in manual mode, you’ll know about it. While there’s nothing objectively wrong with the gameplay, it can often be quite tough or misleading as to where your shots will land. There’s a degree of maths involved when planning your shots, which is great, but sometimes you’ll swear the ball has a mind of its own.

Luigi tries desperately to finish his hole so he can breathe air once more.

Luigi tries desperately to finish his hole so he can breathe air once more.

For example, there is a guideline that displays your ball’s trajectory before you take your shot. A yellow arrow on the ground dictates the estimated area where your ball will land, taking into account the speed of the wind and which club you’re using. Normally this is a very accurate representation of the outcome of your shot, but occasionally the system expects you to pull off a ridiculously impossible shot in order for the ball to hit its mark. Especially when using manual mode, it can be very frustrating when your supposedly perfect shot falls short into a bunker or water hazard.

World Tour takes no prisoners, but you can find solace in that it’s an incredibly gorgeous game, and easily one of the best looking on 3DS.

Putting can be just as tricky, as you fiddle around with the game’s awkward camera controls, often on greens less even than Sonic the Hedgehog’s Metacritic scores. World Tour is a very difficult game, especially if you want to see and unlock everything the game has to offer. To top it all off, there’s a nigh-on impossible course known as the Star Course, where par isn’t an option and you instantly fail if you get anything lower than a birdie.

So World Tour takes no prisoners, but you can find solace in that it’s an incredibly gorgeous game, and easily one of the best looking on 3DS. The 3D adds a great degree of depth to the courses, and is used subtly enough to not become a stress on the eyes. Motoi Sakuraba returns with his signature Camelot style, delivering an upbeat soundtrack that rivals Mario Tennis: Power Tour on the GBA. If you’re after a laid back yet incredibly challenging sports game within the Mario universe, then Mario Golf: World Tour is certainly worth your time. There’s a supreme wealth of content, tons of fun and varied courses, all draped in gorgeous visuals and the stellar presentation Nintendo’s first party titles are known for. While it’s unfortunate the RPG elements have been more or less abolished, what matters is that Camelot have delivered a superb golf game that was well worth the wait.

Hole In One

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