When I first watched the trailer for “Mario Golf: Super Rush,” I was thrilled by the prospect of silly, chaotic sports action. I long for the days when Wii Sports reigned supreme, and “Mario Golf” on the Nintendo Switch initially appeared as though it would fill that space in my heart. However, despite the potential, it ultimately landed in the bunker rather than on the green.
“Mario Golf: Super Rush” is a classic golf game at its core but mixes it up with a variety of environments that pose unique golfing challenges. Button controls are easy to grasp — simply press A to set the strength of a shot, press A again to shoot, and move the left stick to change the direction of the ball. Motion controls, although a bit frustrating to adapt to at first, are fun if you want to relive those Wii Sports glory days. There are many different clubs to choose from, and players can buy new gear to change their stats — the modifiers that affect how your character plays in comparison with other characters.
The game includes a few fun game modes, charming non-player characters and good graphics. Simple controls make the game accessible for players of all skill levels; the new ability for all players to tee off at once in multiplayer has the perfect party-game feel and speeds the game up. The story mode allows the player to customize their stats the way they want, and the character options in multiplayer modes have a wide range of stats to choose from.
These stats — power, control, speed, stamina and spin — change what each player’s strengths and weaknesses are. In multiplayer mode, each player can choose whether they want to have more power and hit the ball farther as King Bob-omb, or if they want their strategy to revolve around their ability to spin the ball with ease as Toad. It unfortunately also means that the story mode stats of a player’s Mii carry over into multiplayer mode. If story mode isn’t your thing, your Mii will be severely under-leveled, while by completing story mode your Mii may be overpowered in comparison to other players and AI.
Where “Mario Golf: Super Rush” starts to falter is its story mode and online multiplayer. Golf Adventure (the story mode) lacks interesting content, and I found myself without the motivation to continue it. The story revolves around establishing your Mii as the best golfer by winning a series of tournaments; then, it switches to a series of boss battles centered around a very half-hearted plot that ends as quickly as it begins. In comparison to previous entries in the series, the story is bare-bones and feels as though less effort was put into it. Story mode is an essential part of this game, so it’s difficult to forgive just how flat it falls.
Not only is story mode disappointing, but for a game that features multiplayer as one of its biggest selling points, online multiplayer severely misses the mark. There is no quick matchmaking system akin to online multiplayer in Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. Instead, players must join or host a room with the rules they like and wait for the room to fill up. This process is slow, frustrating and unenjoyable. Nintendo’s online features are generally not comparable with other systems — despite costing the user $20 to $35 per year — so this isn’t necessarily a surprise, but online multiplayer shouldn’t feel this outdated in 2021. Rather than get up to par with their competitors, Nintendo Online continues to be one big, paid bogey, and “Mario Golf: Super Rush” makes that all too clear.
Despite these issues, the game truly shines in local multiplayer. Battle golf, in which you golf simultaneously against other players in an attempt to claim the most holes in an arena with enemies, obstacles and stat changes, is the most fun. It is just as brutal as any game in the Mario Party series, but the quick playtime means it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Speed golf is also entertaining, with the limited time to complete and race to each shot making this mode a fast-paced and boisterous party game. Both modes feature Special Shot and Special Dash abilities for each character, allowing the player to ruthlessly get even with their competition.
Nintendo has stated that there will be updates for the game that introduce new content, namely new characters and courses. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that the pandemic most likely affected the time Nintendo had to develop more content, but this game truly should have spent a few more months in production to feel fully fleshed out. The lack of content is understandable, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing.
For fans of previous Mario Golf games — and sports games in general — this could be a new favorite. It is also very accessible for casual gamers and those who don’t play video games at all. Unfortunately, I was left dissatisfied on release, left to hope that prospective updates will make the game more enjoyable. If you have plenty of friends around to compete in local multiplayer game modes, “Mario Golf: Super Rush” could be a hole-in-one. If you’re like me, however, you could easily pass on this entry in the series.
Daily Arts writer Harper Klotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.