I hate golf games. Like, loathe them. Yet, I can always find something enjoyable about Nintendo’s golf releases. I can only attribute it to Camelot’s (developers of the Mario Golf series) innate ability to abstract what is fun about the sport of golf, while somehow remaining true to it. Mario Golf: World Tour, for Nintendo’s 3DS, is no different; like its predecessors, it remains charming, approachable, and entertaining.
Mechanically Mario Golf: World Tour is, unsurprisingly, excellent. Camelot has made everything digestible and satisfying — there’s nothing like hearing the crack of the club after nailing a perfect shot. A power meter is used to apply just the right amount of oomph to the ball. Adjusting the spin of the ball is smartly handled by using a combination of A, or B, inside of the power meter’s designated sweet spot, which affects the draw or fade of the ball if the player is early or late with their button press. The power meter changes in strength and the sweet spot lessens in size depending on the players position on the course — when you’re in a bunker the power meter’s sweet spot is almost non-existent.
Golf is essentially a battle against mother nature. Golfers must contend with wind speeds, and variations in a course’s terrain. Mario Golf: World Tour, in tandem with its great mechanics, gives the player the essential tools to navigate mother nature. A grid is used in conjunction with a line of arrows to give the player a close approximation as to where the ball will land. Nevertheless, the player’s ability to perform a perfect shot greatly influences where the ball lands. Additionally, Mario Golf: World Tour has an exceptional camera ensuring that players can see every angle of their shots. I did run into a couple instances where the strength of the wind seemed to arbitrarily change. I would adjust my shot for a 13 mph wind, and it would barely push my ball out if its predicted landing spot, conversely, 4 mph winds would knock my ball tens of feet off course.
Mario Golf: World Tour is centered around the Castle Club, which acts as a hub for your Mii character’s single player-campaign. Players will be able to tee-off on the various courses, buy clothing that applies stat boosts to their Miis, or join the rest of the world in an online tournament. However, while maintaining the Nintendo whimsy by packing the Castle Club with Toads and Shy Guys talking golf, it all wears thing after a while. In order to do almost anything in the game, players must navigate their Mii to a certain area of the Castle Club, with the exception of changing gear, which can be handled from the menu. For instance, participating in course tournaments nets the player coins that can be spent on equipment and gear, and I am currently sitting on a substantial pile of coins, because walking back to the Boutique to purchase anything is such a bummer. In addition to the lackluster Castle Club, the campaign is extremely short. Only requiring the player to complete three different course championships for completion.
Unlike the previous handheld Mario Golf, Mario Golf: World Tour does not have a leveling system. Like previously mentioned the progress of your Mii is handled by spending coins to buy equipment and gear that affect your sweet spot, control, and drive. Most of the gear is themed after some iconic Nintendo property — My Mii is currently wearing a classic NES outfit topped with a Koopa visor. Hilariously, what is advantageous to your Mii’s performance isn’t always fashionable. At one point, my Mii looked like a hodgepodge of Nintendo properties, mimicking how ridiculous some golfers dress on the course.
Mario Golf: World Tour has a mode that isn’t centered around completing tournaments with your Mii, entitled Mario Golf (quick round). From there players can hit the courses as their favorite Nintendo mascot, complete a couple course challenges, play an online match with your friends, or compete in some online tournaments. Challenges test players by requiring them to guide the golf ball underneath rings while remaining within the par stroke requirement. Players can, also, completely customize their golf experience by bumping up the strength of the wind, or changing the amount of holes they play.
Completing challenges rewards Star Coins, which causes the more interesting Royal Garden courses to unlock. For example, Peaches Garden is a course themed after the illustrious Princess Peach. There are heart shaped areas on her course’s that cause the ball to shoot for if it rolls over one. It adds a level of strategy that the other courses don’t have, and are the shinning stars of the game. Items are also a new addition to Mario Golf: World Tour with most of Mario’s weaponry making an appearance for the game. The mushroom, for instance, gives the ball a speed boost when it lands. The Royal Garden courses are the star of Mario Golf: World Tour that require a increased level of strategy. It makes the player throw out all wisdom acquired from playing the championship course by forcing them to use items and assets within the course to navigate spectacularly-designed courses.
Online was obviously a huge focus for this iteration of Mario Golf, and it shows. The tournament system they have in place is spectacular — I even question if Nintendo outsourced it to some more competent online multi-player developer. Tournaments run for a set amount of time, and are split into world tournaments and Americas tournaments. The recent tournament I entered still has four days left in it. While playing in the tournament, ghosts of other players’ balls are present in order for you to judge how you are performing. Regrettably, the game does not show your opponent’s current score–you have to wait until after completing the course to see it. After completing the course, you can check standings–internationally or nationally, depending on what tournament you chose…only to find that you are fourteen strokes behind the number one spot.
The single player portion of the game may feel hollow, but the excellent online integration, Royal Garden courses, and challenges more than make up for the Castle Club’s shortcomings. Mario Golf: World Tour is everything I would expect from a Camelot golf game. Like previously mentioned, Camelot just knows how to hone in on what is fun about golf; they extract those pieces, make them approachable, and most importantly, enjoyable.
[+Camelot keeps on making gold fun][+Royal garden courses are excellent][+Challenges are interesting and varied][+Has the Nintendo whimsy][+You can dress your Mii like an idiot][-Single player portion of the game is lacking][-The Castle Club gets boring]