Mario Golf: World Tour is the latest entry in the Mario Golf series, which sees characters from the Mario series of games take a break from adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom and pick up some clubs and hit the links for some golf action. But this being a Mario game, there’s of course some Mario themed hijinks thrown in. For the first time in the series, you can now use items before you take a swing. Items function somewhat similarly to how they do in the Mario Kart series. Mushrooms speed your ball up after it lands, Fire Flowers let you “burn” things (i.e. you can pass through the leaves of trees with no detriment to your drive distance), Bullet Bills rocket you ahead (this particular item makes your drive around 100 yards longer than it normally would be), etc. Of course you don’t get unlimited items because that wouldn’t make for much challenge. Items are limited and one time use only unless you happen to collect multiples of them. The items themselves appear on the ground or in the air of each hole usually in sets of 2-4 item boxes and you have to hit your ball through the item box to pick up the item. Power shots return as well, and like previous entries in the series, these too are limited with a set number per course (shared among all holes of that course).
Mario Golf: World Tour features Castle Club Courses and Mario World Courses. There’s also a clubhouse which is connected to an overworld of sorts which serves as the hub for single player. You can talk to various NPCs to find out about the game, shop for new unlocked gear, switch out gear, and walk to the Castle Club Courses to play through those. The Club features are similar to previous handheld Mario Golf titles and add in some light RPG-type elements. It’s one of the more enjoyable aspects of the game to me. My only complaint about it is that I wish there were more of it. I think the courses should’ve been divided more evenly in number instead of favoring the Mario themed ones.
Mario Golf: World Tour is also the first game in the series to feature DLC and one of a handful of Nintendo published titles to support this feature. I did not purchase the DLC for the purposes of this review as I was more concerned with the main game overall. The DLC adds in additional characters and courses which gives you even more to do in the game.
All-in-all though, Mario Golf: World Tour is a pretty fun game if you like golf or more specifically the Mario Golf games at all. It’s best played in pick up and play type of sessions in my opinion. This is probably not a game you will be playing for 10 hours straight like an MMORPG or anything like that, but it’s not that type of game of course, but there’s still plenty of content to unlock. The game features several unlockable characters and courses. I didn’t particularly like the unlocking method in Mario Golf: World Tour. Why? Because in previous games like Toadstool Tour for example, you could unlock things through several different modes. In Mario Golf: World Tour it appears Camelot decided to make pretty much everything unlocked from within the Challenge Mode of the game. This would be fine if you there were more variety of challenges, but as there’s only 7 different types offered it limits the appeal of this method in my opinion. Then when you consider the fact that there are around 10 challenges per course with 5 courses to unlock and 4 characters to unlock through Challenge Mode only you can see why it might become tedious. You don’t unlock them by completing certain challenges. Instead you unlock them by collecting Star Coins, which you get from completing challenges. It might seem like a minor thing, but it seems like it makes unlocking things much more time consuming than it was in previous games. There’s also unlockable gear, difficulties, Star versions of characters, and more. So there’s plenty to do, it just gets kind of repetitive after a while in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, the main game is fun, but the Challenge Mode leaves something to be desired. I’d rather have characters unlocked through 9 or 18 holes of Match Play against said character for example. That would be more fun to me. As far as the breakdown about different aspects of the game, read on to find out what I thought about all of that after the jump.
Graphics – The graphics in Mario Golf: World Tour are colorful & vibrant. It’s fairly easy to distinguish different sections of each hole though sometimes rough areas and semi-rough areas blend in with other parts of the terrain and can make you misplace your shots if you’re not familiar with the hole’s layout. 3D mode doesn’t seem to add a whole lot to the game that I noticed, so you can easily play with it off and in fact it might be better for you to do so depending on your 3D preference. 8/10
Sound/Music – The sound effects in the game are what you would expect. Various Mario themed ones and golf themed ones. Nothing too out of the ordinary here as far as sound is concerned. Music is similar, though it does sound nice, fits the game well, and creates a nice atmosphere for playing the game. 7/10
Gameplay – The core aspect of most games is the gameplay and the Mario Golf series has always done well with this. Mario Golf: World Tour is no exception to this as the game is pretty fun overall and once you get used to it, the controls work well and assuming your timing is good on the swing meter, your ball generally goes where you tell it to. I didn’t really like the Challenge Mode stuff that much, which is a shame as that is the only way to unlock characters & most courses. Since you have to use Star Coins to unlock pretty much all of this, it would’ve been better in my opinion had Camelot scatted Star Coins throughout the various courses so you could collect them through other game modes as well. But if you can look past the shortcomings of Challenge Mode, there’s a lot to like in Mario Golf: World Tour. 8/10
Story – I didn’t really notice much of a story in Mario Golf: World Tour, but that’s not the main purpose of sports games in general. The various NPCs in and around Castle Club will talk to you about the game and various aspects of it and Princess Peach and other Mushroom Kingdom characters will talk to you after you finish a Castle Club course, but other than that, there’s not much story to be had in Mario Golf: World Tour. I would’ve liked to have seen Camelot expand more on the RPG elements in the game and give players a true story to follow and guide your Mii through many different courses and perhaps even different clubhouses. Maybe they can do this in the next Mario Golf game? 4/10
Challenge – It does take a bit of getting used to the timing of your swing and how the terrain and wind effects your shots, but once you do, the game becomes much simpler, at least for the non-Challenge Mode parts. Challenge Mode is aptly named as some of the tasks can be quite difficult. The game gives you the option to enable a Mulligan feature which allows you to redo a shot (once per hole). So that right there should tell you that there are definite challenges here. The Castle Club Courses are fairly easy for the most part, though the Mountain Course was quite tough. There was one hole I could not for the life of me figure out how to get a birdie on. I think I eventually did it and I believe that is when I finally won on that course. The Mario themed ones were similar though obviously featuring various Mario aspects. Peach Gardens for example is pink everywhere like Peach herself. This course also features boost pads which function just like they do in Mario Kart (they speed up your ball though, instead of your kart like in Mario Kart). 7/10
Replay Value & Fun Factor – As I mentioned in the intro, there is a LOT of things to unlock in Mario Golf: World Tour should you want to unlock everything 100%. But will you have the patience to do so? I’m not sure many people would, as like I said, the Star Coin-a-thon gets fairly repetitive and makes you not want to bother with the rest of it. It reminds me of the collect-a-thon era back in the N64 days where every other platformer had you collecting random things for no real reason other than because that is how the developer decided you should progress in the game. The game itself overall is fun, but just be aware about the Challenge Mode issues. There’s also Tournaments you can participate in with other users through the Nintendo Network with leaderboard support. You can create your own tournaments as well. It’s a good addition in my opinion as this will help negate some of the negative aspects of Challenge Mode and gives you more of the golf aspects of the game. The Castle Club stuff is fun and one of the highlights of the game for me, but it’s so short-lived that it seems like it was either unfinished or added at the last minute. Camelot, will you please give us more Castle Club in the next game? 7/10
Buy It Or Not? – Whether or not you purchase Mario Golf: World Tour basically depends on a few things. Do you like doing the same thing over and over for the purposes of unlocking content? If so, you’ll like the Challenge Mode at least. Do you prefer single player games or multiplayer games? If the former, you’d probably be better off looking elsewhere. The Mario Golf series is more suited for multiplayer and Mario Golf: World Tour is no exception. Tournament Mode is a fun crossover between the two types of gameplay, but there’s only so many you can do at one time. Fortunately, Mario Golf: World Tour includes online play for multiplayer too, so you don’t have to have someone with the system and game to play with other humans. You can play with random people or people on your friends list. You’re also able to set various options for how you want the game to be played if you are the host. It works well and instead of seeing each player take their turn, everyone plays simultaneously and thus it makes things go much faster. This is also true for online tournaments. So if you prefer multiplayer games, you’ll find a lot to like in Mario Golf: World Tour. The game is available on the 3DS eShop, or you can purchase a physical copy of the game through our Amazon affiliate link by clicking here. Rent or borrow first, buy if you like it!