As a mascot, Mario's been a pretty versatile guy. Aside from his standard platforming duties, he's been a doctor, the star of an RPG, a go-kart driver, and a multitalented sports star. Now, he reprises the role of golf pro in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour. The game is rich with Nintendo personality and delivers a solid game of golf, though players who have spent serious time with Mario Golf for the N64 may find it a bit too similar to that game.
The game is rich with Nintendo personality and provides a solid golf experience.
At its core, Toadstool Tour is fundamentally no different from most other golf games out there. There are plenty of modes of play to keep just about any golf fan happy. The standard tournament, match play, and skins play modes are all present, and there are several modes that are a bit more unique. There's a doubles mode, where two players play as a team, alternating turns at taking swings at the ball. The character match mode puts you in a match game against a computer-controlled character, and winning a game in this mode will reward you with a "star character" for the character you beat, which gives a little extra kick to the character's swing.
Ring shot places large floating rings around the course, and you'll have to put your ball through them in order to win. Club slots is much like a regular point tournament, where the number of swings you take over the course of several different holes determines your standing, except that you'll use a slot machine to determine which clubs you'll have at your disposal--this mode is an excellent challenge for well-seasoned players, as it forces you to improvise under unusual conditions. Coin shoot scatters coins across the turf, and you have to hit your ball at them in order to collect them, with the ultimate goal being to collect more coins than your opponent. In speed golf, the amount of time it takes you to complete the course is as important as the number of swings, creating a much more manic pace than you'd usually find in a golf game. Finally, there's a small collection of side games, including one that challenges you to get as many birdie shots in a row as you can and another that requires you to get your ball as close to the pin as possible. The variety of gameplay modes in Toadstool Tour, as well as the number of unlockable goodies you'll earn along the way, is amazing, and it guarantees you'll get plenty of good play time out of the game, whether it's against some friends or by yourself.
The presentation of Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour is just about what you'd expect from a top-tier Nintendo title.
The play mechanics in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour are fairly simple to get a hang of, though they're deep enough to provide a satisfying experience for expert players. Before you tee off, you can adjust where your club will make contact with the ball, which influences the arc of the ball and whether it slices or hooks. While in recent years some golf franchises have decided to do away with the classic three-click swing mechanic in favor of an analog swing mechanic, Mario Golf keeps it digital, though you can choose to use an automatic or manual accuracy mechanic on the fly. When preparing to swing, an initial press of the A button will start your power meter, and a second press of the A button will stop the meter, then put the ball in motion. However, if you instead press the B button to stop the power meter, you'll have to press a button a third time to determine the accuracy of your shot. You can further influence the ball on the third click by double-tapping the A or B button, which will add extra topspin or backspin, respectively. Once you've made it to the putting green, the interface changes slightly, and you'll only be pressing the button once to put the ball in motion. And though they are present throughout the game, the grid lines that help amplify the contour of the turf become much more important when putting, since precision is key to sinking birdie and eagle shots.
The screen is always jam-packed with information, such as the lie of your ball, wind conditions, and the altitude where your ball will land relative to where you're swinging from. The better your understanding of this information and how it affects the ball, the better your game will be. The manual gives a surprisingly well-detailed explanation of the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of how golf works, and there's a pretty helpful in-game tutorial as well.