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. Rating: 8 out of 10

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui

In the 1980s, Chi grew up in small town on the outskirts of New York City called Jackson Heights. Latino actor, John Leguizamo referred to the town as the "melting pot of the world," and while living there, Chi was exposed to many diverse cultures, as well as a bevy of arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Space Ace, Space Harrier and Double Dragon. Chi's love of videogames only seemed to grow as his parents finally caved and bought him an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (after being the only kid in the block without one). In the 1990s, Chi finagled his way into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.

Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
Chi Kong Lui

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