Speed golf, battle golf, cross country golf—Mario Golf: Super Rush is filled with new ways to hit a ball with a stick into a hole, but for me Mario’s latest trip to the greens works best at its most basic.
Camelot Software Planning returns with its first console-based Mario golf game since 2003’s Toadstool Tour for the GameCube, and the Japanese developer has certainly upped its game since then. Mario Golf: Super Rush features four different ways to play golf, but before we get to the chaos of dashing across courses between shots or braving the danger and depravity of the battle golf arena, let’s talk about good old regular golf. No running. No explosions knocking your ball off the green as you’re about to sink a putt. Just you, as a Mii or Mario character, wearing comfortable clothes and hitting a ball with a club.
Ahhh, that’s the stuff. At its most basic, Mario Golf: Super Rush is a damn fine golf video game. It looks cartoonish, sure, but it has most of the advanced mechanics you’d find in a more serious, reality-based golf video game. The shot meter packs a robust set of features into an easy-to-read vertical line. Hit a button to set the shot power, then shape the shot using the analog stick, adding curve and elevation to your swing. Finish it all off by tapping B or A to add backspin or topspin respectively, and you’ve got a wonderfully cultivated golf swing that hopefully goes where you want it to go.
Or that’s how it works in standard golf mode. Speed mode, the Super Rush half of the game’s title, adds an element of urgency to a game that I normally play to relax. Carefully shaping my shot suddenly becomes less of a priority when I’m playing alongside three opponents all attempting to finish each hole in the shortest amount of time. Having to run to your ball after hitting it, carefully maintaining your stamina meter so you can sprint or use your super dash ability strategically, compounds that urgency. When every stroke adds 30 seconds to your overall time and your opponents are readying special shots that could potentially knock your ball into a hazard, that’s not relaxing. That’s pulse-pounding. I’d daresay it’s downright exciting,
Exciting is great, if that’s what you’re looking for. While I’ve not had much time to play online multiplayer speed golf yet, I imagine golfing against real people adds even more complexity, nuance, and chaos to the mode. Just thinking about it is making me anxious.
Fortunately for me, I don’t have to face that anxiety. Mario Golf: Super Rush has “rush” in the title, but it’s perfectly capable of delivering a nice, relaxing 18 holes across its six increasingly wacky courses. Or nine holes. Or three. It’s a great game for squeezing in a quick couple of holes, be they on the tame and serene Rookie Course, the wind-swept cliffs of Ridgerock Lake, or the Anakin-annoying deserts of Balmy Dunes. Playing a full 18 holes in the game’s normal mode unlocks the next course in sequence, so if all you want to do is play the basic game, you’re free to do so.
But not all the new game modes are all about speed. Golf adventure mode is where you can take your Mii through what is essentially a golf-based RPG. There’s an overworld filled with characters to chat with as your Mii character moves from challenge to challenge, gaining experience points and levelling up stats. There are clothes, clubs, and other items to buy with your golf winnings as you progress through multiple chapters of hot golf action.
Golf adventure features a little of everything Mario Golf: Super Rush has to offer. There’s standard play, speed play, battles, boss fights involving shooting balls into specific spots. The mode also introduces XC golf, AKA cross country golf, in which you have free run of a course, choosing which holes you want to attempt to hit within a stroke limit. The most appealing feature of golf adventure mode is the whole numbers-go-up mechanic, applying skill points to the five stats—power, stamina, speed, control, and spin—and seeing how your game changes as those stats rise.
Once golf adventure mode is over, you’ve got a custom-crafted Mii golfer that can join all those Mario characters in the other game modes. I’ve grown quite fond of my Mii while playing through the story mode, and can’t see myself using any other character once I’ve unlocked him fully.
I’ve got a lot more Mario Golf: Super Rush to play. I want to fully unlock my Mii. I want to see how the online competition shapes up when more players get their hands on the game. I’ve not fiddled with motion controls, as I am paralyzed and that gets tricky. And I really want to try to master the arena-based mechanics of battle golf mode, where everything seems to always be exploding and whenever I am just about to sink a putt something horrible happens and I am blasted dozens of feet away. It’s almost the antithesis of golf, loud and chaotic. I think I like it.
But what I really like—what I love, even—is grabbing a character and a set of clubs and taking on a course on my own terms. Mario Golf: Super Rush might make many players feel the need for speed, but its chill, regular old golf game is pretty super in its own right.