Mario has done it all - from bouncing around on mushrooms heads to go-karting and everything in between. Is there no stopping the crazy Italian plumber? Now Mario and his friends star in 'Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour’. It seems that Mario needs a break from the rigors of saving the princess and has hit the links. The question is – 'do Mario and his buddies make for a fun golf game?’
Nintendo has made a wonderful job of the graphics within Mario Golf Toadstool Tour. The animations are crisp and clean, the water is realistic and the characters themselves look better than they ever have! The courses are also very well illustrated. Tall grass that blows in the wind, lava that bubbles, and walls that eat your ball. Nice, bright courses that make you think you are on the course yourself. Even the ball markers are not pixelated from a distance - so you can always tell where and who your opponent is. The flowing lava, birds flying overhead, crystal clear water, and the lush green grass all add to the appealing effects in this game.
The music is generic 'Mario game music’. Anyone that has ever played a Mario game before will quickly recognize the music. Mario and his friends never talk, more like grunt and yelp - but this is nothing new as Mario has never really spoken before. There isn’t much about the sounds and music that actually stands out, although ambient noise is always present. Birds chirping, water flowing in the background but, again, nothing really special.
The game play for Mario Golf Toadstool Tour is great. As you start the game you have the option to select a mode to play. There's the 'tour’ - where you compete on a course against different characters from the game and have to come in first if you want to move on to another course. There is multiplay, which is you versus a friend in a round. There are also a few other modes to play. 'Collect the rings’, in where there are rings throughout the course and you have a certain amount of shots to collect as many as you can. When you start the tour, you are asked to choose a character. They range from Mario himself to Bowser, and the like.
Once you choose your character, it's off to the links. Playing is pretty typical for a console golf game. However it is a little different. There is a power meter across the bottom of the screen. Press the 'A’ button once to get it moving - and this is where it differs a bit - you can either press 'A’ again and it will be an auto shot or you can hit the 'B’ button and do it manually. Manually makes the game a little more challenging but the 'auto’ feature is a nice addition. Also, above the power meter is a number in yards; this can be changed with the 'L’ and 'R’ buttons to help judge the distance you want the ball to go. When you hit a perfect shot, each character has a different animation. Although this really does nothing for you in the game, it does make you feel good when you see Yoshi's rainbow follow your ball. Basically, ’the tour’ is pretty much your typical golf game. Hit the ball, hit it again until you get it in the hole. You do have to come in first to advance, which is not always the easiest thing to do. When you finally do win, you get to see the winner animation and get a trophy. Then you advance to the next course and do it all over again. The courses do get harder as you go and there will be a time when you will need a 'star player’ so we will get into that now.
One of the others modes is competing against the computer players. Mario hits in a straight line, but can't control the ball well, whereas Donkey Kong’s balls will curve but he has a little bit more control. You will have to decide which character suits your golfing needs best. After you choose your character, you select your opponent. You can choose to play against anyone, however, you will notice that one of the players has an envelope on hisher picture. This is the person you need to beat in order to get that person's star character. This mode plays pretty much the same, but both players have nine slots they need to fill in order to win. How do you fill the slots you ask? Win the hole, and you get one slot filled. After you do win, the character that you have vanquished will have a star in their picture. This is activated by pressing the right button. The star characters add more control and distance - which you will need.
Multiplay is just about the same as above. You can use any player and course that you have unlocked. You can compete in almost every mode the game has aside from the tour. Playing the slots and rings games was probably my favorite multi play games. And it is always fun to see your opponent lose!
Overall, Mario Golf Toadstool Tour is a very fun and addictive golf game. The many different modes give it a good replay value, although I did find it a little on the young side. It was also a little too easy. There really should have been an option to disable the 'auto-swing’ and the 'distance meter’ as this would have given the game a little more challenge. Those minor niggles aside, I had a blast playing this game. Challenging gameplay, many different modes, and not to mention the excellent graphics, make Mario Golf a must play for every Mario fan. So to answer the introductory question - Mario and his pals do make for a fun and challenging golf game!