The seventh entry into the Mario Golf franchise, Mario Golf: Super Rush, is here.
I’ve been getting into golf pretty hardcore for the last year and a half, so I was incredibly excited when Super Rush got announced. This is the first entry into the Mario Golf series since ‘World Tour’ on the 3DS back in 2014, so I was really hoping for Nintendo to ace this new title for the Switch.
Adventure Is Out There
One of the flagship modes of Mario Golf: Super Rush is a single-player, RPG-lite campaign mode called Golf Adventure. In this mode, players will don the golf spikes as a shiny new rookie on the Mario Golf scene, and play as their Mii characters to grow them as golfers.
The campaign has some high points, mostly in the ‘back 9’ of the story where you engage in pretty creative and interesting boss battles, rub elbows with famous Mario characters, and experience epic, sweeping courses.
The ‘front 9′ of the story, however, is pretty bad. The courses are very vanilla, you’re paired up to golf with Toadette, Chargin’ Chuck, and Boo (which I can only assume were picked randomly out of a hat of B-characters to feature in the game), and you’re forced through minigames such as “XC Golf” (or cross-country golf) which is probably the most frustrating mode I’ve ever encountered in a Mario title.
The campaign is solid, but spotty, but when it shines – it really shines. I had a good time customizing my character (as I typically do) by increasing his stats, buying and switching up my golf club loadout, and upgrading the standard set of clubs to more wacky ones as the story progressed.
All in all, Golf Adventure can be knocked out in about 5-10 hours (probably the shorter end of that), and is a decently fun mode that tours you through Super Rush’s various courses. Seriously though, XC Golf is awful.
Golf With Friends
As with basically every Mario Sports spinoff, Mario Golf: Super Rush is at its best when you’re simply golfing… With friends.
Nintendo loves to do this adorable thing in their presentations where they act like online functionalities are brand new to the world. I’m pretty sure in their E3 direct they had a whole slide with a dramatic announcer saying “Play with ANYONE IN THE WORLD… With ONLINE PLAY!” as though they would’ve got a standing ovation and a Nobel Prize for such an innovation.
On the contrary, Super Rush’s online functions are inexcusably primitive. They aren’t bad, they work just fine. But the fact that Mario Golf doesn’t have any sort of ranked multiplayer, seasonal rankings, or even matchmaking is a massive whiff.
One thing that did actually work nicely for a change, was the Nintendo Switch Online App. Sure, it usually makes sense to be wearing a headset to chat with your friends in the game, but if I pop open the app during an online multiplayer match, it invites me to join the ‘game chat’ channel for that match, and I can leave my phone wherever I want.
This is especially nice for when you’re playing with motion controls (and standing up), so you can just leave your phone nearby and talk while you golf. Again, I know the bar is on the floor here, but this particular use case worked well.
Missed It By That Much
Mario Golf: Super Rush has a pretty slim roster, with only 16 characters (not counting your Mii) at launch. Nintendo has promised more modes and content in the future, but compared to Mario Kart 8’s 30+ characters, and Super Smash Bros.’s 80+ characters (including DLC)… It’s disappointing to see such a small cast of characters here.
What’s even worse though, is that it kind of feels like Nintendo stopped the design process altogether even before they reached that 16. Most of the game’s roster sports super cool and wacky golf attire (see Bowser above), but almost a third of the game’s characters – DK, Boo, Yoshi, Chargin’ Chuck, and King Bob-Omb – are just… Completely regular.
What gives here? We couldn’t have given DK a funny little gingham tie, or put a golf hat on Boo? Chargin’ Chuck is still in his football attire for Christ’s sake, we could’ve done SOMETHING funny with that! It’s little odd misses like this that sour the experience just so with Super Rush, and it feels like a strange lack of polish for a Nintendo title. Doesn’t ruin the experience, but it is definitely off-putting.
For the most part, Mario Golf: Super Rush is a solid title with a lot to offer for casual golf fans and hardcore Mario Sports title lovers alike.
The Good: Motion controls are incredibly fun, the game’s courses are beautiful, and golfing online with your friends is a blast (when it works).
The Meh: Mario Golf is ‘meh’ in three of Nintendo’s typically strongest areas, story, character design, and music. Golf Adventure is pretty bland for the first half, the game’s music is infuriatingly repetitive, and some character designs are lazy (like Yoshi and Donkey Kong).
The Bad: Mario Golf’s AI are competent at best, and insanely dumb at worst. XC Golf is literally god awful, and Mario Golf’s online modes are inexcusably primitive.
The Verdict: 3/5. Mario Golf: Super Rush is ambitious (almost to a fault) with some areas, and oddly vanilla in others. It’s a worthy entry into the franchise, and definitely worth buying for anyone who needs a Mario Sports fix.