Monday 30 December 2019

Mario Golf (N64 review)

Developer: Camelot Software Planning
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1999

Mario Golf is a sports game that was also released on the Game Boy Color (1999).

The main mode is Tournament where you try to shoot the lowest score against your opponents across 18 holes. What's jarring is that you can only choose between four characters from the outset, and two of them are not part of the Mario universe; to earn the others you must beat them in the Get Character mode. I can see how this would annoy some people, but it does get addictive and forces you to tighten up your skills if you want to unlock preferred characters. Control-wise, everything is responsive and it's easy to get into the game without much knowledge of the sport or its intricacies. However, there's still depth for experts, namely in the limited power shots that give you a chance to blast the ball at opportune moments. The course design is supremely crafted to challenge all facets of your game; however, a minor niggle is that I wish there were more familiar Mario locales to make it stand out from similar titles such as Neo Turf Masters (1996, Neo Geo CD). I'm also not a fan of the wind metre, as the gust strength is indicated by Boo and you can only judge your shot by the position of his arms / tail. The top-notch music mixes relaxing tunes, upbeat tempos and even the underworld theme from Super Mario Bros. (1985, NES) to heighten the tension during putting! There's lots of other modes here with Ring Shot being a particular favourite, as its clever puzzle element challenges you to hit the ball into perilous territory to collect rings while still at least making par. Mini Golf mode isn't as fun as it sounds though due to the boring course design which simply resembles the shapes of numbers and letters.

Mario Golf is a premier sports game that's highly entertaining and easy to pick up for newcomers, while having just enough depth and tons of content for veterans. It does get off to a slow start with its minuscule opening roster, but before long all will be forgotten and you'll be unlocking new characters and winning tournaments like a pro!

Random trivia: You can use the Transfer Pak with a Game Boy Color cartridge of Mario Golf to unlock an additional four characters in this N64 version.

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