By Makeda Byfield
The end of a countdown unleashes an array of characters, all rushing to some unknown target. Previously colorless (with the exception of accessories like golf clubs or a glove), these characters are all brought to life as they speed through a gigantic, bright, wonderful arena! They bump each other out of the way, use the clubs to do special tricks that amaze the viewers and stun their competitors. Then, they engage in more shenanigans to get ahead in what seems to be a frantic race. This arena is filled to the brim with spectators that eagerly look on. One would think that they were just thrown into the first day of The Hunger Games!
Alas, we find out that all of this chaos is over a game of golf. Not just any golf game, though: That’d be ridiculous. The aforementioned characters are the familiar Mario and Friends crew! In this opening sequence, we see Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Waluigi, Wario, King Boo, Donkey Kong, and Bowser all competing in a golf competition. The dramatic entrance makes a lot more sense with these characters. The crew makes their way past each other and obstacles on the course so they can be the ones to hit the ball in the hole. After Mario finally gets the ball in, he shrugs and gives the players a thumbs up. It’s finally time for us to play “Mario Golf: Super Rush.”
Now, I have to be honest – I could not care less about golf. The thought of actually playing pulled me back into reality after the flashy opening movie. I stopped and asked myself: was I actually interested in this game? Or was I just pulled in by the personalities that I loved and grew up with? With these questions lingering in my mind, I decided which one of the three modes I wanted to play.
I began with the solo challenge. I figured I’d pick up on some skills while playing by myself, then move my way on to something more challenging. Before I was allowed to jump in, I got to choose from a handful of classic Mario characters to play with. Each character was equipped with varying levels of skill, which was measured in power, stamina, speed, control, and spin. Each character was also given a “special shot”- almost like a superpower that gave them a boost during the game! Mario, for example, blasts other characters’ balls away upon impact – with ferocity. Luigi can freeze the ground (which is very inconvenient to other players!). After comparing all the traits that each character had to offer, I selected Bowser Jr., who could create blinding smoke in landing zones.
My excitement from choosing my favorite Mario character quickly died out. Solo Mode was great for somebody who wants to practice playing, but it eventually got repetitive and boring. After begging the universe to make those 18 holes go by quicker, I switched over to what seemed to be a more interesting game mode – Golf Adventure.
The stakes are a lot higher here! Your Mii and three other housemates (Pink Yoshi, King Boo, and Chargin’ Chuck) are all rookies climbing their way up the golf ranks. With tournaments, challenges, and tons of practice rounds, players are allowed to interact with the mini-town that was created for this game mode. Here, we can travel to different locations to play games on different courses. Travelling also gives other characters to speak to us. I particularly enjoyed qualifying rounds for tournaments! Us rookies were allowed to improve upon the skills measured in solo mode. Your participation allows you to “power up” and earn coins to buy equipment that would help you in future challenges. Players could purchase cool clothes that help them run faster, golf clubs that help with technique, and choose how many clubs they wanted to carry. Your investments would absolutely come in handy during game time. For example, carrying fewer clubs keeps you lighter so you can run faster. You’ll realize how helpful that time element is when it sinks in that this mode only gives you two minutes to hit your ball and run to its landing location.
After a while, I decided to see what the third game mode was about. To my surprise, there were four mini-games under the “Play Golf” mode! Standard Golf and Speed Golf didn’t offer anything that I hadn’t already experienced in the other game modes. But Battle Golf immediately intrigued me! This mini-game, which we watched in the opening game sequence, required players to fight over nine holes in an arena. The first to make three balls wins! After playing about twice, I got tired and left the game; I simply did not have the energy to play a game that I wasn’t fully invested in after a long day of work.
After going through all the modes, I can say that I don’t think the problem was the game itself. They offered different modes to keep people entertained and included tons of opportunities for competition. Mario Golf also did an excellent job of educating players about different golf terms. Their extensive guide to “Golf controls and lingo” is available via the main screen and allows players to go back and reference it as many times as they want. The vocab lessons can help anybody who wants to go play golf in real life, too!
THAT’S what was my problem, though. I don’t care for golf. I knew that before I went into the game and I foolishly thought that I’d enjoy this time around simply because it was a Mario Game. The game makers were smart – those characters alone will pull in players. Unfortunately, the game just didn’t do enough to keep me intrigued. I wish I could offer some suggestions that would change my mind, but that would require them to change what sport the game was about. I can say though, the “interactive” aspect of the golf adventure mode would’ve been more fun if I was actually allowed to interact to a greater degree. What if we were given different dialogue options so we could actually feel like we’re participating in a conversation with other characters? Right now, it feels like we’re being spoken at, instead of spoken to. This update in player responses could lead to potential alliances or rivalries between other golf players.
I have no hard feelings towards Super Rush. In fact, I might just pick it up again one day if I have time to kill and nothing else to do. Mario Golf would be perfect for a road trip or long bus ride. But while I’m outside of the vehicle, I’ll stick to doing something that’s more fun.
Makeda Byfield is one of our newest New York Videogame Critics Circle contributor, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronxworks.