Game Description: Tee off with Mario and friends in the most entertaining golf game ever to hit the Nintendo 64 system! Taunt your opponents to break their concentration. Place bets in multi-player games and see replays of your best shots. View the detailed terrain from multiple camera angles and earnExperience Points to get to the next course. With 10 different play modes 6 championship courses and up to 14 characters. Golf has never been this much fun!
Millions of people get up early on the weekends to get in their cars and head off to the golf course for a day of golf. Due to the sheer number of participants of the sport, golf has been called America's pastime, but that's also a tongue-in-cheek comment because it's been consistently unpopular in mainstream America. The perception of the sport has always been three-fold; it's considered a game for rich white men, it's one of the most boring sports to play and watch, and its golf courses are inaccessible to most people. But now in 1999, thanks to Tiger Woods, many more minorities and women are finding themselves on the golf course, and golf courses (public and private) are popping up everywhere. What has not changed is the perception that golf is a boring sport to play and watch. I, for one, still don't care what Tiger and David Duvall are doing on the 18th hole. No matter how much Nike or the PGA try to sell it.
When I want to physically play a sport, I play basketball, and when I can't get outside to play, I gladly pop in a b-ball game and play the sport from the comfort of my couch. This works with all the other major sports but not golf. I never had any interest playing a game with so little action. How could I get excited about a game where you hit a ball essentially off into the distance and pray it lands somewhere near the hole? After one good swing, you hop into a cart or walk to find the ball and do it over again. Why would anyone do that? And what about those viewers in the "gallery" getting all stoked about a putt? The only golf I ever wanted to play was miniature golf and if ever there was a golf game on and a pool game was on another channel, I'd watch pool. Not that pool is that much more exciting to watch but it's the cooler of the two. I think a lot of console players are like that. They want a bigger score, more flash and excitement, and golf just doesn't offer that, especially on a console. At least until now.
The one success on consoles was Hot Shots Golf. It was released on the PlayStation a while back and got warm reviews, but with its cartoonish look and the lack of recognizable characters, the public never took to it. Nintendo must have taken notice because when they wanted a golf game of their own, they went straight to Camelot and straight to their most marketable property: Mario. Well the draw worked as I happily picked it up and am proud to proclaim that this is THE game for golf lovers and THE game for Mario fans.
Mario Golf is such a surprise that I feared I couldn't write this review and do it justice. What could I say to describe how easy the game is to play? How can I convey that all the intricacies of lining up a shot are included and not overwhelming like in other games? How can I describe how they've knocked off the stigma associated with golf and made a great experience unlike any other? Maybe it was the familiar Mario Brothers mascots or maybe it was just the experience of a developer like Camelot, but I felt at home in this game. Control was a breeze and even with the option to control topspin, direction, and hitting power, it all made sense. I picked up things like bogeys and shooting for par faster in this game than I ever did before. Things like wind direction and a player's level of "draw" were considerations on every shot and I reveled in balancing all the minutia of the game and win every hole.
While Camelot made the perfect single-player game, they knew that straight golf would lose its appeal among gamers so they offered other modes of play. The most notable are the "skins match" where the players battle for stars and the surprise miniature golf game included. Little bonuses are added too like the ability to taunt while a friend is setting up his shot and contest where you try to match each other's shots. These are totally gamer oriented additions that purposely take away the simulation feel of the game but that's not to its detriment because it's all about fun anyway. The only slight in the game is the lack of a multi-player tournament mode. That's an unfortunate oversight but it's not a major problem and certainly doesn't ruin the whole playing experience.
Mario Golf is a trip and simply the best console golf game ever made. It's laden with all kinds of options from tournaments to miniature golf levels to keep players busy. It's a clear result of Camelot wanting to offer the most enjoyment possible with this sport and they succeeded in making even a hater of the sport like me have fun playing. Everything is easy to get into, offering a lot for the player to do and making it fun to do at the same time. That's pretty basic, and it's what developers should be trying to do with all of their games. And here, Camelot got it right from the beginning and I, for one, am happy to say it's made a fan out of me.
Mario Golf is the third entry to what I'd like to call Nintendo's 'party' series, and thus far I have been less than pleased with the results. Mario Party and Super Smash Brothers both had excellent ideas on how to engage 4-players simultaneously, but extended play with either game was less then satisfying because there was an utter lack of depth. Mario Golf on the other hand does not befall the same fate and outdoes its predecessors by being a golf game of dare I say it, epic proportions.
Mario Golf is filled with tons of features and options (Mini-Golf and Get Character modes were my favorites) to the point where the instruction manual seemed more like an encyclopedia of golfing. There's pretty much something for everyone whether you're entertaining a house full of guests who are hard-core gamers or newbies alike, or if you're just going at it solitaire. I was simply amazed and overwhelmed at the amount of choices available. This is clearly a product of attention and quality.
While you won't catch me wearing Greg Norman's "Attack Life" line of clothes, I'm still not quite the newbie that Dale is when it comes to video-golf. I've played my share of EA Sports golf entries over the years and while I still don't understand why anyone would want to be a spectator, I certainly can understand why someone would want to participate. On that note, Mario Golf clearly captures the appeal and fun of participating in golf. It was not uncommon to hear me hooting and hollering while pumping my fists when I made a nice approach to the green or scored birdies from 10 yards to the hole. Similarly I would slam my open palms against the couch and curse openly to the screen when I landed in the bunker or bogeyed from 3 yards out. Its safe to say that this game got me quite riled up at times.
Despite my spirited involvement in the game, after prolonged play, I found the final pay-off to be not entirely satisfying. Unlocking secret characters and stages just didn't really do it for me. I wanted something just a little more involved than what was offered. So when I learned about the upcoming Game Boy Color version, which not only has a personalized create-a-player feature that can be ported over to the Nintendo 64, but also allows transference of experience points via the yet to be released 64 GB pak, I thought this would be exactly what Mario Golf needs to get me totally hooked. As it stands, this is a wonderful game of golf that has yet to fulfill its potential.
Parents can get it for younger players who wouldn't ordinary like a golf game because this one's easy to get into, and it offers many modes of play.
It almost goes without saying that golf fans won't be impressed by the use of cute mascots in a golf game and that's a shame because Mario Golf is a truer to the sport than most golf games out there (i.e. Links Xtreme). Mario Golf will surprise you because it's much closer to a simulation than its appearance lets on.
Older gamers or golf enthusiasts should definitely do like we did and put aside prejudices and give the game a shot. I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.