“GOLF?! SPEED GOLF?! OH MY GOD! STORY MODE BAYBEEEEE! MARIO GOLFS BACK!”, I was yelling like a madman at the Nintendo Direct. Completely lost in the moment for just a chance to return to the addictive arcade-feeling Mario Sports game and the bonus of an RPG-like mode to get lost in was the extra cherry on top of the hype desert. Memories of the classic Gameboy Colour game flooding back, to say I was super sold was an understatement. The last few mediocre games simply bad memories, this was going to be a reboot a chance to hit a birdie! I fired up Mario Golf: Super Rush, the introduction cgi played and I was ready. Or so I thought. A few hours later it seemed Mario Golf: Super Rush was not quite the hole in one I hoped for and those memories of the past Mario Sports games came back with a vengeance.
Once you get over the bombastic intro you’re presented with a few options to try, A very dry set of tutorial images to flick through, the main game, the adventure mode or solo challenges. If you’ve played a golf game with buttons before they all tend to work the same, you tap once to start the bar, tap again to confirm how much power and then flick the stick for how much spin. You can add in extra changes to the shot using different buttons and the “Mario” spin is that you slowly build a power meter to do a Super Shot that will either explode or cause issues for opponents when it lands. There is motion control options as well but the buttons is your default go to. The core gameplay of Mario Golf was always this nice balance between simulation golf (like your EA games) and arcade fun and Super Rush does have it there when you play regular golf but not when it’s Speed Golf.
Speed Golf should be Mario Golf: Super Rush’s new shiny amazing feature and when you first start to get to grips with it, it really is. After each shot you have to pelt it after your ball and can use a burst of your stamina gauge to do a rush. It increases the pace of the game but stops you taking trickier shots as there’s either no time or you simply won’t be able to get your character over there fast enough (they can’t go through out of bounds terrain) The Speed Golf works nicely in the limited Battle Mode levels. There are 2 arena levels and your objective is to score a hole and then rush to the next, the first to 3 wins. It’s incredibly good fun but the 2 levels and both having the same aesthetic results in the mode feeling like an afterthought. You can play each level with a Rush mode where random events will occur but it becomes less about trying to outwit a player and more about survival.
Mario Golf: Super Rush does have online support and it functions well for the most part. It’s fiddly to sort out, when you go to play online it heavily implies that you can only play with friends in rooms, however if you search for an open room you’ll find plenty of players wanting to get a game going. It’s the perfect arcade sport game for quick play and that lack of option is baffling. Should you play online and want to change mode then as with other Nintendo offerings you have to close the room entirely and start again. It’s frustrating but functional to a point and is the most basic of setups. Don’t expect any ranking or leaderboards it’s jump in and off you go. The online is what you’d expect from Nintendo but not an arcade sports game.
Each course in Mario Golf: Super Rush has 18 holes, you can unlock each course by playing the computer and you don’t have to win overall to unlock the next course. If you set the game to play where everyone takes their turn at the same time you can easily finish everything in a short time. Once you’ve unlocked enough play with a character you unlock their star clubs which increases range and short failings for the character but it’s not a huge advantage and feels like a little nod for finishing. The problem is despite all of the Mario aesthetics the hazards feel generic and placed at random on each course. Despite a bowser and sand themed course everything else feels like it could have been any other golf game. I do realise this is a golf title but this is supposed to be Mario Golf and it feels more like Mario Golf lite.
The feeling of disappointment can be felt the most in the Adventure Mode. Mario Golf: Super Rush was supposed to be a return to the RPG sports games those of us who had a Gameboy Color remember Camelot fondly for but unfortunately it feels incredibly barebones. You’ll be talking to Mario enemies, starting out as a Rookie, training with Koopa Troopas doing basic “hit the target for more points” challenges and then taking your weak Mii golfer through the same levels as the main mode. This would be fine but each stage forces you to practice in regular golf, practice in Speed Golf, qualify in Speed Golf and then compete. You’ll be replaying the same courses with more holes each time and once repetition sets in the small advances you gain from Levelling up your Mii feel trivial. There are bosses and special challenges further on once you pass the Rookie stage but getting there feels like such a grind that you’ll be going back to the main game modes before any of that happens.
The sound looping in Mario Golf: Super Rush is incredibly frustrating. Every character has a few stock lines, every NPC has 1 ‘voice noise’ and the music for each stage is very short. Given each course is 18 holes you can expect to be sick of everything after an hours play. This isn’t to say the sound in Mario Golf: Super Rush is bad, it’s just that there’s no enough of it. The music in particular is enjoyable and bombastically Mario feeling from the get go but after that initial burst fades it just loops and loops until the melody becomes something you just want to turn off and pretend you never heard it in the first place. It’s the perfect “pick up and play with your friends” party vibe but given you can only play certain modes 4 player locally and Speed Golf isn’t one of them you’ll be limited to what you can do.
The problem with Mario Golf: Super Rush is it lacks originality. You can make Mario games and put an original spin on it, many have done so before to great success but this feels like going through the motions. Make a reasonable golf game, slap Mario on it, experiment a little and that’ll do. Mario Golf: Super Rush isn’t bad. There’s moments where you’ll absolutely nail a chip in, putt from a mile away and blow apart the competition and these feel like a Mario Golf game. The problems with adventure mode being more of a grind for people to waste away on, the tiresome repetition and Speed Golf becoming less of an exciting new spin and more of a dull grind makes Mario Golf: Super Rush less appealing to go back to. The inconsistent CPU players what will flip flop between terrible and hitting a hole in one doesn’t help matters either. It really could have been a return to Camelot’s winning form but this entry just feels like there’s not enough Camelot and too much generic Mario to be really special. It really does feel more like Mario Tennis Aces than anything.
6/10 – It’s not smart to rush golf and makes Mario less super