'Mario Golf: World Tour' Drives One Right Down The Middle

April 28, 2014

It was 1999 when the first golf game to feature Mario's name was released, but Nintendo has a long history of hitting the links, going all the way back to the launch of the NES. By now, it's pretty clear that spending a day on the the course is one of the Mushroom Kingdom's favorite pastimes, but it's been ten years since Nintendo fans have gotten a proper golf game in their hands. The Mario Golf series skipped two of Nintendo's biggest platforms, the DS and the Wii, but it has officially returned on the 3DS with Mario Golf: World Tour. The latest collaboration with longtime developer Camelot Software Planning stays true to the series, offering up a solid golf sim with light RPG elements, and then improves on the franchise by taking advantage of modern day advances in gaming technology.

Developer: Camelot Software Planning
Publisher: Nintendo

The Mario Golf franchise has been in the capable hands of Camelot since its inception back in 1999. The team there has crafted each of the titles with care, iteratively building on each of them, the way a video game sequel should. Over the years, certain gameplay elements have come and gone, but the fun factor has always remained consistent. Through their dedication to the series, Camelot has successfully turned one of the world's most sublime sports, and turned it into something much more exciting.

Nintendo and Camelot seem like they wanted World Tour to go bigger and better than all of its predecessors, and they achieved their goals. This release maintains many of the mainstays of the franchise, from the overall gameplay, course, and character structure, to series specialities like super shots. In other words, if you've played the other Mario Golf games, then you know just what to expect from World Tour. But, that doesn't mean that this game doesn't have any tricks up its sleeve.

Outside of the expected updates, like being able to play as your Mii, or use equipment that you can purchase to upgrade your character, World Tour builds on the Mario Golf franchise by making it global - bringing online tournaments to anyone that can connect their 3DS to a wireless network. This feature offers players something new to play almost all of the time. Nintendo is also using World Tour to venture into uncharted territory for the company by offering characters and courses as DLC, and even going so far as to offer a season pass for all of the content packs. Sure, this is pretty much standard practice for the rest of the industry, but Nintendo has never dabbled in this space before, making the move quite noteworthy.

World Tour marks the release of the Mario Golf franchise on five different Nintendo platforms. Going all the way back to the Game Boy Color and Nintendo 64, the series has always shined on portables, and this release is no different. The 3DS gives a fresh coat of paint to the series, while allowing players to pick up and play a few holes while they're on the go. The online and StreetPass features extend the overall experience and offer some great multiplayer options.

From their first release, the Mario Golf games have always been enjoyable, and World Tour is no different. While the series may be an outlier, even amongst the other more action-heavy Mario sports titles, Camelot are experts at what they do, and, once again, they deliver another fun and entertaining game. Like its predecessors, and the sport of golf as a whole, World Tour is meant to be a low stress way to relax and enjoy an afternoon.

The updated uses of the 3DS' technology, from the gyro sensor to control the camera to the wifi capabilities for wide scale tournaments, really set this release apart from the other games in the series, making it the most engaging and giving it the longest legs. Camelot has also worked their magic to make this the most endearing release in the series, mostly by bringing players' Miis to life as they react to how well they're doing on the course. All in all, World Tour will offer hours upon hours of fun for anyone that likes to spend some time on the links - both virtually and in real life.