|Dev: Camelot Software Planning|
|Release: May 2, 2014|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Comic Mischief|
by Sean Engemann
Can you believe it has been just shy of a decade since we've basked in a Mario Golf game? I was shocked at first, but the more I thought about how much I missed the Mushroom Kingdom clan on the links, the more I realized that now is the right time to bring the series back. Nintendo is finally starting to embrace the online scene, and Mario Golf: World Tour is the perfect template going forward. It is brimming with features that will keep you engaged and provides plenty of goals to strive towards. There are a few divots, but they are small in comparison to the sheer amount of addictive content.
The menu screen is deceivingly simple, displaying only two game modes–a quick round with Mario Golf or the campaign style via the Castle Club. The latter puts your Mii as the hero in training, stepping into the posh Princess Peach Castle inspired country club and greeted by all the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom. This grand palace sports many facilities to discover, some practical and others superfluous. Whether you stroll into the training room to chat up a Shy Guy on a treadmill or mosey into the women's locker room to mingle with Birdo, you'll find useful golf tips and guides to the club grounds whomever you talk to.
Your initial task is to make your way to the first of the three 18-hole courses, the Forest Course, where you must complete a practice round to receive a handicap. This score adjusts depending on how well you play through a full round of golf, and becomes a useful tool for the game to keep tournaments evenly matched between scratch golfers and novices. After getting comfortable with your swing, the course championship match awaits, likely the first event that can award you a sparkling trophy to be displayed in the club's trophy hall. As you can probably expect, the Forest Course has trees dotted around each hole, mostly covering doglegs, though the course itself is quite simple to master. As is the Seaside Course, which yields plenty of sand traps and water hazards. The final course, the Mountain Course, with its high winds and sloping greens, is the only one that may require more than simply hitting the button at the right spot on your swing's power meter.
The controls will feel familiar to anyone who has played the series before. With a full bag of clubs to choose from, you can make a regular shot or chance a power shot which costs one of its six uses unless you nail the target on the power meter. On Easy mode you simply have to hit the meter once, but on Manual mode you most hit the power marker, then hit again within the sweet spot to avoid topping the ball. Each style lets you use the Thumb Pad during your swing to mark a spot on the ball, adding a fade or draw shot, or giving it more or less hang time. The advantage to Manual shots is that you can add topspin or backspin on the ball, which becomes crucial on the harder courses with nasty pin placements.
All of the controls have button configurations, but the touch screen can also be used in every respect. However, despite the touch screen's simple presentation, it's much easier and quicker to use buttons, ultimately leaving the lower screen a clutter of touch windows. The game also allows you to free roam the camera using the system's gyroscope, but again this is a useless tool, and of course does not pair well with the 3D in effect, which serves a much more practical purpose by providing you with a better sense of distance to the flag.
Though three courses may seem underwhelming, Mario Golf: World Tour has plenty of non-traditional activities to keep things interesting. A short walk over to the Royal Garden will reveal more Mario style courses. This collection of unlockable 9-hole courses comes packed with launch pads on the ground to send your ball zipping forward, tons of coins to collect with well placed shots, and a handful of item power-ups to exploit. The Boomerang Flower gives your shot an intense curve, while Bullet Bill lets you blast forward in a straight line, with several other items to discover. Afterwards you can head to the Royal Room (aka VIP Lounge) to chat with Yoshi, Peach, Bowser, and the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom elites (as well as DK and Diddy). Some will encourage you, others will taunt you, and for some odd reason, neither Mario nor Luigi will talk directly to you, opting to use a Toad interpreter instead.