By Shane Wall
Have you ever wondered why Peach is always being abducted? Much of the blame lies with her. She is constantly playing golf, tennis and karting with a known kidnapper. I’m looking at you, Bowser. Peach, get a restraining order and stop attending sporting events with your would-be captor. Maybe then Mario can get some plumbing done in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Mario Golf: World Tour is the fifth entry in the series and with other great golf games out there like Everybody’s Golf, does Mario Golf make as big an impact as it once did? Is this as good as the old titles? I struggled with these questions the whole time I played the game and changed my mind constantly.
We're really starting to see developers push my favorite little handheld graphically as World Tour looks fantastic. After each hole is complete, your character will be surrounded by friends' Miis who congratulate or disapprove of you depending on how you did on the hole.
World Tour is played in two ways, by choosing either Mario Golf or Castle Club from the main menu. Mario Golf allows you to play courses with customizable features solo or with friends. The Castle Club is where you'll find the familiar RPG-style Mario Golf. Here you can win trophies by entering tournaments and buy new outfits and gear for your Mii, improving their performance. There’s an impressive amount of golfing paraphernalia to collect, adding to the already stellar replay value.
Nintendo stumbled upon the Internet a few years back and these days it’s not uncommon to see online play in a Mario sports title. World Tour tries to be exactly that, thankfully with some success. In the lower lobby in the Castle Club are the European world tournaments. Events are timed, meaning once you have competed one, you'll have to wait a week or so until it’s over to find out how you ranked.
The international tournaments aren’t the only timed events. There are challenges with fixed characters or items that will reward players with specific items for Miis. These are a nice change of pace and force you to play slightly differently to how you usually would. Some timed events only last 3 days so check in regularly to get the most out of the challenges.
Unfortunately if you want to get into some multiplayer fun with friends they will have to have a copy of World Tour. You can play online or locally, but having no download play is a bit of a bummer. There isn’t even an option to play with friends and pass the 3DS around. Luckily the online play is great and almost makes up for the lack of download play.
Each time you participate in a tournament your handicap will be changed to reflect your ability. This is such a great idea because it makes playing with people of all skill levels interesting and fun. You can’t just obliterate a friend who has never played because you’re better so the chances they will want to play again and improve rather than stop talking to you and seek out new friends are good.
Lakitu’s one-on, one-putt challenge in the Castle Club is by far my favourite in the game. You have one shot to get the ball on the green and must putt out in the next shot or you loose. The first round is 9 holes, if you can get a perfect run you unlock the 18 hole course. Its very difficult and a great way to practice. Constant failure while attempting this challenge will unlock new clothing for your Mii very quickly and the tricky course helps you improve almost every aspect of your game. I couldn’t stop myself from singing Eminem’s Loose Yourself every time I played.
One shot, Mom’s spaghetti.
Although it doesn’t appear to be a huge game at first, there's plenty to keep you entertained after snooping around the Castle Club and exploring every menu in the quick play section. No Mario Golf game has ever had this many courses and with the promise of upcoming DLC (or AOC for some reason), World Tour has impressive replay value.
Challenge mode can be found in the Mario Golf section of the main menu; this is where all the magic happens. Completing challenges unlocks extra courses in the "Castle Club" so if you find yourself with little to do with your Mii, jump in and do some. You can also unlock the better “star” versions of each Nintendo character to use in the Quick Play section.
Attempting to compete with the nostalgia of the old Mario Golf games is a huge job. World Tour is a fantastic game, but I’ve come to expect a lot when Mario steps onto a golf course. While I don’t think it lives up to the history of the franchise, it's still an excellent game. World Tour a slow burner and I know I’ll be playing for some time to come. Spacing out the release of each DLC pack means that even when I’ve lost interest in Mario Golf: World Tour, it wont be long before I pick it up again.