Review by matt91486

Reviewed: 12/08/00 | Updated: 07/18/01

An excellent start to the Mario Sports series

OPENING STATEMENT
Mario Golf is a game I intended to review months ago, but I am only getting around to reviewing it now. Mario Golf has begun what is sure to become one of Nintendo’s flagship series, the Mario Sports series. And if Camelot develops the other games in this series as well as they have developed Mario Golf and Mario Tennis, we will be in for a treat the entire way.

GAMEPLAY--9
As Mario Golf was developed by Camelot, who also developed the Hot Shots Golf series for the PlayStation, I expected the gameplay to be perfect, or at least close to it. Well, close seems to only count in horseshoes and video game developing, as even though the gameplay is quite excellent and it really provided some much needed energy to the tired golfing sub-genre, especially the golfing games on the Nintendo 64 which, up until the point that Mario Golf was released, had consisted solely of Waialae Country Club.

The greatest thing about the gameplay in Mario Golf is that it is an unrealistic, NFL Blitz-style romp through the golfing genre, that’s innovation had stagnated with a bunch of uninspired, unoriginal, boring golf simulations until the release of Hot Shots Golf. Camelot took Hot Shots Golf’s successful take on the genre, threw in Mario and other big name characters from the Mario universe, and they came up with the gameplay formula for success.

Within Mario Golf you will find many more modes than even I would have dreamed up. You, of course, still have the classic golf mode, which comes with a boatload of courses, of which all but two you must unlock. There also is a Mini-Golf Mode. This Mini-Golf Mode could be the best out of all of the game modes in Mario Golf. There also is a Unlock Character Mode, in which you unlock the various golfers from the Mario universe that you currently do not have. Lastly comes the mode with the most innovation in it, the Club Slot Mode. In the Club Slot Mode, before each hole the three clubs, not including a putter, that you are allowed to use are chosen by a slot machine. Inside the slot machine there are three slots, just like most slot machines. The first slot decides on which wood that you will have. The second slot decides on which low iron you will have. The third, and final, slot decides on which high iron or wedge that you will have. If you receive a star in all three columns, you will have the ability to use all clubs, just like you can in the other modes.

GRAPHICS--9
For the most part, the graphics in Mario Golf are quite impressive. First of all, I was most impressed with how Camelot did such an amazing job with the courses. The normal golf courses are all lush and covered with vegetation. The water hazards are a vibrant deep blue, while the sand traps are pure, white Hawaiian sand. The mini-golf courses are nowhere near as impressive, but they certainly do a decent job telling the mini-golf courses apart from the normal ones. While the earth in the normal golf courses is covered in grass cut at various lengths, just like at my favorite golf course, Columbia, the ground the mini-golf courses are all short, just like the greens on the normal courses, but the grass is painted in a green and gray checkerboard. While I know why Camelot did this, to help line up the putts, as it is mini-golf, I still cannot help feeling kind of cheated, as the normal golf courses look so, well, perfect, and the mini-golf courses look like Peach and Mario could be playing chess upon it.

The characters in Mario Golf have all been spectacularly rendered in three dimensions from their various locations in the Mario universe. Camelot also came up with some new characters, that are made specifically for Mario Golf, and will probably never be found in another game until the sequel to Mario Golf arrives, whenever it may. Unlike the rest of the Nintendo-created characters, these characters, two of which are named Harry and Plum, are realistic looking humans, or at least compared to Nintendo’s zany lot of characters they are. These characters wear golfer’s garb and they truly look like they belong on the links. Do not fret though. All of the characters that were at some point in the past created by Nintendo look exactly like, or at least extremely similar to, their previous counterparts. The character’s animate very fluidly as well, making the characters almost as impressive as the golf courses.

MUSIC--8
SOUND--9

Although the music stays very close to the Mario series’ roots, I am not certain that the happy, bouncy soundtrack of Mario’s action and adventure games really blends in with a golf game, even if it stars all of Nintendo’s famous characters. Do not get me wrong, the music by itself is excellent music, however in a golf game, it does not meld quite as well as I feel some mellower tunes would. But, whenever you go into a tie-breaker, or something like that, the sense of urgency displayed in the music is perfect.

The sound effects are superb. Camelot has included voice acting, and, unlike the voice acting in many games today, it is not cheesy and laughable. In fact, Camelot seems to have found the perfect voice for each character in Mario Golf. Mario, Wario, and Luigi have thick Italian accents, while Toad’s voice is a little bit high and squeaky. Yoshi does not speak, he only emits the Yoshi noises that we have all become familiar with over the years, do to the Yoshi’s Isle that was featured in Super Mario RPG. Yoshi’s talking is kind of like the talking in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, only Yoshi does not have text boxes and captions so that you can understand what he is saying. The sound effects besides the voice acting are spectacular as well, and they just seem exactly like golf, from the sound of the ball hitting the pin, from the sound of a one wood striking a Ping range ball and driving it two hundred yards.

CONTROL--8
The key button in Mario Golf is the ‘A’ button. The ‘A’ button does most everything, from selecting items in the menu, to choosing when you make your character, be that character Donkey Kong or Baby Mario, hit the ball. ’R’ might be the next most important button, as that allows you to take a glimpse of the course further down and better position where you wish for your next shot to land, at least within your club’s range. The other buttons all have functions as well, I just believed that ‘A’ and ‘R’ were the most important buttons in Mario Golf so I figured I should mention them.

FUN--10
Mario Golf’s zaniness and over-the-top characters from the Mario universe, along with many innovative and fun game modes, spell instant fun for Mario Golf players everywhere. All of the modes, except for the Unlock Character Mode are coupled with four-player support, so Mario Golf is also one of the best party games on the Nintendo 64, probably the best party system of all time. Camelot just did an excellent job of making all of the modes, and basically everything about Mario Golf worthwhile and fun for everyone you know, even if you detest golf.

CHALLENGE--MEDIUM TO HIGH
When you are playing Mario Golf in one of the various Multiplayer Modes you will hardly notice, if you notice at all, how difficult that Mario Golf is. In a game that seems to be, at least partially, designed for some of the younger gamers around, even if it is fun for everyone, Mario Golf is especially difficult. This difficulty is most apparent in the normal Golf Mode and the Unlock Character Mode. I had to try for weeks on end to unlock Luigi, the very first character that you are able to unlock. The other modes really depend on how you go about it. I, personally, find the Mini-Golf Mode quite easy, but that is only because my strength in golfing, both in real life and in Mario Golf, is putting. If putting is not a strong point of yours, you will probably find that Mario Golf’s Mini-Golf Mode is next to impossible. And the Club Slot Mode’s difficulty is all in the luck. If you win good clubs, the Club Slot Mode should not be that difficult at all.

REPLAY VALUE--HIGH
Mario Golf has received the pinnacle of all ratings for replay value in a game, and Mario Golf did for good reason. You will play all of the modes again and again, excluding the Unlock Character Mode, which you will play as little as possible, trying to unlock all of the characters as fast as possible so you will not have to play the difficult mode again. You will play all of the modes, excluding the exclusion from above, even more if you can play Mario Golf with friends, family members, or, well, anyone who will play it. The Club Slot Mode and the Mini-Golf Mode are especially good modes for multiplayer play.

PROS
*The golf courses are amazingly lush in vegetation and real looking.
*Some new characters as well as favorites from the Mario universe.
*Unrealistic gameplay actually makes Mario Golf warrant a purchase.

CONS
*Unlock Character Mode way to difficult.
*The kiddy theme may scare people off, even if that theme is just a false cover.
*The mini-golf courses are nowhere near as nice as the normal golf courses.

CLOSING STATEMENT
Mario Golf, and Mario Tennis after it, have started a wonderful legacy for the Mario Sports series to follow. I cannot wait for a sequel to Mario Golf, especially one on the Gamecube. All Mario Golf on the Gamecube would need is a few more modes, some even greater graphics, and a hundred characters, most importantly Mallow!

OVERALL--9

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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