Mario has historically been the most versatile character throughout video game history. A painter, a hero, an educator and even quite some decades ago, a protagonist. However, when he isn’t somehow defying the confounds of his original profession as a plumber you will often find him in the company of friends competing in various activities, something that is a secret to absolutely no one considering half of the series top selling list is comprised of either Mario Kart or Smash Bros. Some of those forays however are on the less successful end yet still end up selling by the bucket load, fervently indicated by today’s subject, Mario Golf: Super Rush, which at the time of writing had topped the UK physical sales charts within its first week.
Somehow it comes as no surprise; Mario Golf has always been seen as one of Mario’s better spin-off titles via review scores, despite being within the middle ground of the list. I personally haven’t indulged in Mario Golf since my younger days, which is strange to me considering Mario Golf 64 would have easily been one of my most played titles on Nintendo 64. It sounds odd to say, but in terms of memories I’ve tend to hold onto more of those from said middle ground titles as Golf, Hoops and Strikers as opposed to Mario Kart. Despite my middling opinion of Mario Tennis Aces and the striking similarities in what concerned me about that game also appearing in Super Rush, I was impressed by what we saw in the first trailer and was very keen to jump on the train and ride a bit of the childhood nostalgia for a while and what I’ve taken away from it is mostly positive.
Go to your Happy Place…
Upon pressing “A” on boot, the game takes no longer than .5 seconds to boot, something that caught me a little off guard as a mini character montage greets you with some cool looking shots of everyone suiting up and getting ready to hit the course, followed by an array of CGI clips depicting the chaotic nature of the Speed golf style; Super Rush’s signature trait. While golf historically has been a combination of skill, luck and mathematics, these shots seem to suggest that Golf is turning into a race with this entry, which is a relative half-truth as we come to play the game a little more.
Sure, the aim of most of Super Rush’s mode is embodying the quotes of Lightning McQueen straight out of Cars, but you won’t succeed just by smashing the ball and hoping for the best. When you hit the main menu and being given the three options of Free play (Offline or online), Golf Adventure and Solo challenges, I figured it would be best to hit up the Adventure at first, figuring that it would be a baseline tutorial which would tell me exactly what I need to know.
Safe to say I was correct. As effective a strategy as the ‘button mash’ is in a lot of these frantic titles, Golf still carries its nuance of patience or quick thinking to be ultimately successful. Toad will often ‘Chip in’ during your Adventure journey to explain that there is a large complexity to golfing, even in a Mario setting. Nothing is quite as simple is point, aim and shoot as he introduces such concepts as topspin, backspin, wind direction, ball curvature, club differences and a ton more that will ultimately affect how you play. Using a varied combination of these is important during all facets of the game as even during Speed Golf your accuracy affects your score as well.
You also have the options of using either button or motion controls that will ultimately affect your overall experience with the game, however, I resorted to using buttons for 90% of my playtime. Let’s be honest here; Joy cons have never really been considered the best of controllers; versatile, but ultimately, not good at any one thing. Motion controls, at least for myself, were an unmitigated disaster. When you think of Nintendo and easily accessible sports, the first thing most people would think of is Wii Sports. Wii Sports golf was arcade by comparison, but it worked well, and the player felt very accomplished through a very simple motion; line it up and swing away.
It would be a shame to miss out on some frantic Mario Golf shenanigans. And hey, a little Birdie told me I have an Eagle eye for a solid Albatross, and I can guarantee that you ain’t no Triple Bogey, you’re on Par with the Hole-in-one hotshots.
With Super Rush, your angle is always askew, your hand is always in the wrong position, when you intend to take a straight shot it curves towards the KFC drive-thru on the side of the green… Despite Nintendo generally taking the approachable route to these types of things, they have too much going on at play here for the tech in the Joy con to keep up with which is a shame. I know a few people who have moderate success with it, I tried multiple Joy cons with no avail, thankfully I wasn’t exactly looking for the next Wii Sports golfing experience, so I didn’t let it affect me too much and just stuck with the button controls that I liked.
The button controls are very simplified and use a combination of both buttons and sticks in order to more accurately affect your shot overall. Lining up the typical shot power meter will give you your power, tapping certain buttons will control settings such as backspin and topspin, and tilting the stick in a direction while lining up your shot bar will help determine how much your shot curves. Ultimately, this is going to be the best way for you play while learning the particular golf styles found within Super Rush, starting with Golf Adventure.
Throughout Golf Adventure you’ll be introduced to six courses, one of each holding a particular gimmick in which you will have to respect in order to compete at a top level and gain medals in order to advance to the next course, ranging from a casual round of 18 hole standard play, to something as wacky and frustrating as Cross Country (XC) Golf, an essential entire course free for all to clear all holes available within one run. With each course there is a mini hub attached that will provide you with additional challenges, items for purchase such as clubs and clothing for your Mii (The compulsory playable character) and tutorials on how to pull off tricks to up your game. While a lot of this is fun and unique in its own different way, this is where most people are likely to feel slight discourse with the game.
It's all in the hips...
✔️A natural and fun move forward for the series.
✔️Challenging without being overbearing.
✔️Online experience that isn’t hindered by lag and a great addition to a multiplayer library.
❌Not a ton of courses at launch, something that is once again being addressed later leaving the experience quite short
❌Motion controls, seriously. I just want to pretend to hit a ball, and I’m sure there’s a better way to implement it using a combination of buttons and motion.
Mario Golf: Super Rush’s course selection is small, rounding out at six courses overall. Something that plagued Mario Tennis Aces on its release was an extreme lack of content with a constant dribble throughout its life (which continues to this day) to keep the game sustained, and they’ve made this exact same approach with Super Rush. While this wouldn’t be a problem usually, the issue lies within the fact that the game at release feels as if there is less content than previous titles at a higher price tag. While Mario Tennis Aces has been out for a few years now and is actually filled with quality content as time has passed, this model of “Release it bare, fill it up later” is frustrating for an audience that is largely done with the game once they have completed it.
Being someone that owns a console for every major platform, that is essentially how I play video games (With the exception of a certain Final Fantasy XIV) because my encroaching backlog is ever-growing. This is largely going to be a personal problem for a lot of people, and there are likely to be staunch defenders of this practice as it’s common for Nintendo to do this now that they have the resources to do so, but this is damaging to Mario Sports titles more than it is most others.
To keep a long argument short, I’m interested in playing the game with friends right now, not in 3 months when they decide to drop a new course or character. This model works great for games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons just fine, as seasonal events usually come alongside worldwide celebrations that overall have more purpose to attend as they are respectfully limited to the timeframe of holidays, which in turn makes them an active driving force to play. For games like Golf and Tennis, I want to play the entire experience with friends now, while it’s hot and fresh out the oven.
Despite this personal woe and speaking of friends, I’ve spent a hefty amount of time playing Super Rush online already. I started playing off with friends at first, tweaking settings and trying different modes and spending a bit of time in each to find out exactly what each mode feels like in an online setting, so that we can get somewhat of an idea of what interests us for community nights and friendly gatherings. Overall, despite a few character and lag glitches that didn’t hinder gameplay, Super Rush lasted on long sessions quite well. While an entirely host based experience, nothing felt as if the host was ever given a particular advantage with the game, and nor did the connection tarnish the experience of the individual player.
Being given the option to play in tandem as opposed to waiting for each other to take a turn was a huge time saver that allowed us to have countless rounds which made the time fly. Thanks to the on-system invite feature being implemented, jumping in and out of games was relatively easily with only a few gripes, mainly in that we couldn’t just adjust the game mode on the fly, but rather recreate the room entirely which would in turn restart the game every time you did it (Still entirely confused as to why).
When not playing with friends, you can simply jump into a group listing in which you can pick what mode you wish to play with relative ease, so long as the room isn’t password protected. Playing with other players becomes quite challenging as opposed to the NPC’s as you’d come to expect. While Super Rush isn’t super complicated when it comes to battle mechanics in a golf game, having a human in competition against you who is likely to not only make better shots than the typical NPC but also has the ability to use their Special Dash or Shot more tactically makes for a competitive experience.
This is especially true for Battle Golf in which you are actively competing to claim ownership of a hole, which also has the addition of item balls in which you can fire off and attempt to place strategically also, but largely feels amiss as just going for the holes tends to be a much better strategy. Competing in multiplayer is very much like I said before; this may be Speed Golf, but it’s not just about getting to the hole as fast as possible, because a precise and calculated shot is going to be just as if not more beneficial to your game. The key to gaining an upper hand on human players in Mario Golf: Super Rush is most definitely learning to make calculated decisions using all mechanics available to you in the fastest time possible.
Accompanying this golfing journey of yours is a very… Mario Sports sounding soundtrack. Don’t get the wrong idea, that’s not a statement of negativity, more of a statement of “Yep, that’s a Mario Sports song alright”, which is all it really needs to be. With every course, there’s a soundtrack that is either a boppy or catchy tune at a baseline which will then turn it up to 11 and pick up the pace as you shift from regular golf to Speed Golf, a neat and welcome little touch. There’s also differentiating scoring music which when on the green will change the tune depending on what you’re putting for; Albatross, Eagle, Birdie, etc. which serves to change the tone of just how triumphant you feel about making it there on a good run, or how desperate you need to hit a putt to save an abysmal run.
Just like Tennis Aces, the soundtrack is made to embody high energy to get you into the mood to play a round of Sport, and if that doesn’t sum it up, I’m not sure what does. Despite my grievances with the delayed content spread, Mario Golf: Super Rush is great. It’s filling a golf void that I had seem to have forgotten I had ever since Mario Golf 64. While it’s quite clear that mechanics have developed over the years and it’s made it a fresh experience for me, I feel as if any long-time fan will have a lot of fun with it. Thanks to the additions of Battle Golf and Speed Golf, there’s more party variety for the casual audience as well so that they don’t get too caught up on being the Jack Nicklaus of the Mario Golf world.
It’s hard to say that right now I’d consider it an essential pickup with the game being a little lacking in overall single player and multiplayer content options, but I can definitely put my tee in the ground on this one and say I’d shoot for a high recommendation and would most likely consider it an essential title once the game becomes a little more fleshed out. It would be a shame to miss out on some frantic Mario Golf shenanigans. And hey, a little Birdie told me I have an Eagle eye for a solid Albatross, and I can guarantee that you ain’t no Triple Bogey, you’re on Par with the Hole-in-one hotshots. Give it a try Tiger, you might be surprised.
Mario Golf: Super Rush is a golf video game developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch console. It is the sixth instalment in the Mario Golf series following Mario Golf: World Tour.