Golf, in some respects,is a person playing a game against nature. Wind, grass, sand, water, and gravity all affect the sport and how you play the game. Plus you can dress in some really bad plaid pants and nobody will question you. Even though you can dress in some atrocious looking outfits in Mario Golf: World Tour, it is still golf. Is it a worthy addition to Mario's catalog of games? Tee up and let's find out.
Controls and Gameplay
Mario Golf: World Tour has two modes of play, Mario Golf for a quick round and Castle Club for a more campaign style of play. In the Mario Golf mode it's a quick set up to play Single Player, VS. or Tournament style games. You choose a character with set abilities, a game style, and a course then you're in the action. It's for those that want to just get into the game and go. The VS. allows you to play against A.I. characters or against your friends locally or online. Tournament lets you play in either pre-set tournaments against other players from around the world or in a tournament you or another user has created.
The Castle Club lets you play as your Mii. Here is where the game becomes more of a progressive system. You start out with your Mii, a plain outfit, and a basic set of clubs. At the Castle Club the first course you play on is the Forest Course. It's a good starting course that presents enough challenge to let you, not only learn the basics, but slowly improve your game. That is the Castle Club's overall goal, to build up your skills. The next course is the Seaside Course and it introduces heavy winds and more course hazards. It is the same with the next course, Mountain Course. As you play through the courses you’ll earn various clothing, gear, and coins. The clothing and gear can improve specific skills such as longer drives or better sweet spots on the ball. The coins allow you to buy better clothing and gear at the Castle Club's Pro Shop. In the Castle Club's basement are two separate tournaments; The Americas and The World. These are similar to the Mario Golf Tournaments, but strictly for your Mii; Mario characters are not included.
In addition to the separate tournaments there are two methods of hitting the ball. Both are based on the simple "button tap power bar" style that many golf video games used before most switched over to a "real swing" with the thumbstick. The two methods are Easy and Manual. Easy is, naturally, the simplest. After aiming your shot with the camera you tap the "A" button. This starts the power meter moving. On the other end of the power meter is a mark indicating "perfect." Tapping the "A" button a second time when the meter reaches this mark makes your Mii hit a shot to where you aimed, give or take a few meters depending on wind and terrain. Tapping the "A" button before or after the "perfect" mark results in a shot that will fall to short or to far of where you aimed.
The Manual style starts out the same as Easy, but after the second tap there is a third tap. The first tap sets the power the meter on the upswing. The second tap in the target “perfect” range sets the power of your hit. The third tap, in an additional “perfect” range, sets the accuracy of your shot. Tapping “A” at the first mark will set the strength of your shot (wind permitting). Tapping "A" on your second mark will result in; a hook (curve left) shot if you hit before the mark, a straight shot if you hit the mark, or a slice (curve right) shot if you hit after the mark. The Manual shot also lets you put spin on the ball to affect how it rolls when it lands.
Graphics and Audio
Mario Golf: World Tour is a Nintendo game set in the popular Mario world, so it doesn't stray from the current norms for that rounded edge, brightly colored, cartoon-ish look. On the 3DS in 3D mode the depth is crisp; I didn't find it very bothersome to me.
The music and voice acting are all also taken from current norms. The music themes intone familiar strains held through many tried and true Mario games. While the current actors under contract with Nintendo voice those familiar characters, giving Mario Golf: World Tour that feeling of anauthentic "Mario game.”
Golf was a sport that, for whatever reason, I expressed interest in as a child. My parents bought me a comically oversized toy golf set. Of course, being a child, I was into it for probably two weeks before my infatuation waned. After that it was back to climbing trees and Hot Wheels. I never really gave golf another thought until I played a golf video game. Most of the sport video games I just don't get into. Golf is one of the exceptions; it's a sport game I really like.
That said the last Mario Golf game I played was "Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour" for the Nintendo GameCube. I felt it was too "arcadey" and I really didn't play it much, if at all. So imagine my surprise when I first fired up Mario Golf: World Tour on my 3DS. They actually have a decent golf sim under all those bright cartoon graphics! Adjusting for wind, angling shots around trees, reading greens, and hoping I put enough "umph" on a shot to get over the sand trap. It's all here. I think Tiger Woods would even be impressed.
There is an arcade aspect; Princess Peach's Royal Garden course has all the arcade touches. Power ups that have an effect on the ball, spots on the course that will zing the ball forward (and possibly into traps if your aim is bad), and even cannons to shoot your ball straight to the green. It's a fun diversion when you don't want a game to be so serious.
I like the tournaments in the Castle Club. As you are playing a hole you can see "recreations" of other player's shots play out. This actual sort of helps you judge how to play the hole when you see how everyone else has played it.
Mario Golf: World Tour is not a game that will be leaving my 3DS XL any time soon. It's a fine handheld golf sim that I can really get into. As such I give it a 5 out of 5.
Mario Golf: World Tour is rated E for Everyone for Comic Mischief by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
For more information see the official Mario Golf: World Tour web site.