When it comes to the sports genre in gaming, I tend to avoid it all together. I’ve owned many of them in the past, but there’s only so much that can be done before the whole genre gets very stale. Sure, you get your prettier graphics and your annual roster update, but if you’ve played one game in a particular sports genre then you’ve basically played them all.
There is one exception to that rule, however, and that is the Mario sports series. When I hear that I will be able to do all kinds of crazy stuff in a typical sports genre, that’s where I get interested. My first foray into the Mario sports series was with none other than Mario Golf 64. It was a pretty simple game, as you just picked a player and you were off to face other golfing rivals on a variety of different courses, enter a tournament and what not. It was a golf game that was ridiculously fun, and as such kicked off my love for the Mario sports series.
Which brings us to Mario Golf: World Tour. This 3DS game is the first in the Mario Golf series in about 10 years, so I was obviously excited as heck to hear that Mario would be hitting the green again. The major thing that World Tour adds to the series is the online function, which allows you to play with others all around the world in vs matches or tournaments. This gives the game a lot of replay value, as the gameplay is so sound that it’s always a blast to face off against others.
Pretty much everything else that is on offer by Mario Golf: World Tour is essentially a new version of what we usually see in the series. Like the portable titles, you are given a hub world that is full of many of the characters from the Mario world all standing around just waiting for you to talk to them so they can tell you relevant or completely irrelevant information. The hub world is a feature that I’m glad to see back, as it adds some meat to the typical sports formula and the Mario world is always full of charm.
At the start of the game it is your mission to begin a practice round so that your handicap can be calculated. Once your skill has been tested you are then eligible to enter the first of the 3 major tournaments that the game has to offer. The first one is pretty straight-forward and contains courses that lack any major wind, obstacles or uneven terrain. It’s essential that you master all of the intricacies of the gameplay here, though, because it won’t be long before the game throws everything and the kitchen sink at you.
World Tour offers noobs of the series a pretty forgiving swing mechanic that only requires you to press the button once when you’re swinging the club. This means that you won’t have to worry about missing the marker when the meter comes back and your ball goes flying off target. Though you can use this feature and do relatively well, I find that the traditional style is the most rewarding, as it also allows you to add some spin to the ball and control what it does when it lands on the green.
Outside of the traditional 9 or 18 hole scenarios there are challenges that ask you to collect as many coins as you can, hit the ball through all of the rings in a course or complete each course in just 2 shots. They add a nice amount of variety, but none of them are as fun as the traditional mode. They do allow you to unlock new equipment for your characters, though, so it is important to give them a shot at some point.
Speaking of equipment, World Tour allows you to unlock and purchase new clubs, balls and gear by completing challenges or spending coins at the shops. This equipment will improve various stats like power, control and trajectory, which is definitely important if you want an edge once you hit the online world.
Mario Golf: World Tour doesn’t do much to really re-invigorate the franchise and the online function is pretty bare-bones. However, the gameplay continues to be very addicting and rewarding as you improve your game and master the effects of wind, obstacles and angles, making it an extremely satisfying experience. It may be a little light on features, but Mario Golf: World Tour is definitely the place to go if you’re looking for a non-traditional golf experience.