Golf is a sport with the kind of rich tradition and history that many purists demand be reflected in the video game adaptations of the sport. For these hardcore fans of the leisurely pastime that was once referred to as a “good walk spoiled,” only the finest of simulations like PGA Tour 2K21 or perhaps the upcoming EA golf game can possibly satisfy their need to have all of the intricacies and complex physics of the game be a part of even their virtual experiences on the links. Though everyone is certainly welcome to their own preferences when it comes to any video games, this short-sighted viewpoint is one that can also potentially limit exposure to other golf games that might offer enjoyment of a different kind. This is where my Mario Golf: Super Rush review comes into play.
Arriving with its own rich history that dates all the way back to the early days of the original NES, Mario Golf: Super Rush is the kind of golf video game that everyone that can love, even if you’re just a casual fan — or perhaps not even a fan at all — of the kind of slow and stodgy golf you see the pros play regularly at televised events. In this newest edition of Mario Golf, the actual striking of balls takes as much of a backseat (as it often does in the series) to the sometimes violent interactions with your opponents. In short, the mad dashes to your ball’s eventual landing spot often involve some friendly jostling with other players as you sprint alongside them down the fairway to try and get there first.
That’s not to say that the golf itself in Mario Golf: Super Rush isn’t fun in its own right, only that it’s relatively basic and easy to grasp compared to a more robust simulation like PGA Tour 2K21. But the game accentuates its own stripped-down interpretation of the sport with a variety of unique modes that allow you to choose how you would like to play, and these offer you plenty of opportunity to mix things up should you ever start getting bored with any of them at all. From Speed Golf to Battle Golf, there’s no shortage of ways to pit yourself either against the CPU or other humans online in a bid to claim victory on whatever course you happen to be on. There’s even a single-player Golf Adventure mode that provides a story to you starting your golf career with your created Mii, and sees you improving your game and competing against all of your favorite characters from the Mario universe.
With all that said, let’s tee up a breakdown of what components of the game are landing beautifully on the fairway and what areas could still use some fine-tuning to keep them from spending too much time in the rough.
Mario Golf: Super Rush Review – What I Like
The foundation of any golf game is bound to be tied to how you go about getting the ball from point A to point B. Doing this in Mario Golf: Super Rush is fairly simple and intuitive. In fact, my first impression of the shot mechanics in the game were that they might actually be a little too elementary, and the game could potentially be too easy to master. But perhaps that initial opinion was influenced by my past experience with all of the variables you need to monitor in PGA Tour 2K21. Soon I learned to appreciate how the controls in Mario Golf: Super Rush might be quite different, yet also had their own nuances to grasp.
Once you’ve decided on a club and a type of shot (which basically amounts to either a full or half shot), you’ll then use a gauge to set the power of your shot and apply either topspin or backspin (or even super backspin) to your ball. You might think (like myself) that a second gauge after squaring away the power would then determine the accuracy of your shot, but instead it’s used as an opportunity to shape your shot with curves or loft. It took some time for me to realize that the accuracy of a shot is impacted by how much power you choose to apply in that first gauge, with the more strength you strive for accompanied by the risk that your shot could end up being a little wild.
It’s easy enough to adopt a “grip it and rip it” approach when power is really your chief concern, but there are also some of the other usual golf variables to keep in mind when planning your shot, including the wind situation and the lie of the ball. Though it might not seem all that challenging at the outset on easier courses, be prepared for the game to become a little more difficult once there are more obstacles and hazards to worry about. It won’t be long before you’ll need to use those curves and loft in your arsenal to navigate trickier terrain and avoid too many of those disappointing bogeys.
When things get especially hairy out on the course, you can even consider unleashing your player’s special shot that’s customized for every character. These shots can give you a leg up on the competition at the crucial times when you really need it.
Mario Golf: Super Rush would likely get boring in short order if it only involved playing regular rounds of golf all by yourself and merely attempting to get as low a score as possible on courses. Fortunately, there are plenty of different ways to play to keep things interesting.
One wrinkle you’ll notice almost right away is that in most modes, unlike many golf video games, the action doesn’t end with just making your shot and having you then transported to where your ball landed for your next shot. Super Rush requires you to run to your ball before you can hit the ball again. This can get especially hectic when you’re running alongside opponents who can bump you to slow you down, plus you’re preoccupied with trying to collect coins (which you can use to charge your special shot) and hearts to increase your stamina so you can run faster by dashing for longer (or use a super dash to make you invincible as you sprint for a short period of time).
This mad scramble to your ball might not seem all that crucial in your typical casual round, but you can probably see how it becomes a little more important when playing a round of Speed Golf where time is truly of the essence. With a couple of different ways to play this mode, your ability to line up and then get to your next shot in as little time as possible will be a determining factor in your success. The balance between trying to make precision shots while racing to the hole ahead of your opponents creates a lot of hectic fun that’s missing from other golf video games.
In Battle Golf, you’ll be attempting to snag more points or holes than your opponents while playing on terrain at the same time, so you’re bound to cross paths with others regularly and will often find yourself competing on the same hole with competitors while desperately trying to hole out before they do. While trying to contend with adversaries trying to throw you off your game, and regular timed moments of chaos like surfaces turning to ice or your ball turning into a giant egg (if you choose to have these timed events), the match can rapidly become a free-for-all frenzy that has equal moments of elation and frustration.
The single-player Golf Adventure mode is essentially a sort of career mode for your Mii. It exists to level up and improve all of your various skills, and comes complete with a charming story to boot. You start out by learning all of the basics of playing a round on a beginner course. From there, you gradually work your way up to playing more advanced options like Speed Golf and something called Cross Country Golf that allows you to play holes in whatever order you like (likely to better prepare you for Battle Golf). You’ll train alongside other newcomers like Boo and monster driver Chargin’ Chuck, and the ultimate goal is to increase your badge level by completing tasks and sometimes competing in events.
With every hole that you play, you’ll earn experience that will allow you to level up. Each time you do that, you’ll be awarded skill points that you can use towards the available options. My own personal advice would be to pump up your strength at the outset because it’s a lot more difficult to score birdies and pars when you can’t hit the ball far enough to get on the greens in regulation on the par 4s and par 5s. But you shouldn’t really neglect any of the skills too much because they’ll all be needed at some point with all of the different kinds of golf you’ll be playing on your Golf Adventure.
The mode does a nice job of making your tasks incrementally more difficult as your badges get a little shinier. It does this through the introduction of trickier courses and different ways to play the game. This journey to becoming an expert isn’t incredibly long or complicated from a narrative perspective, but it accomplishes its goal of showing you how all of the controls and modes work while providing a modest challenge that may require you to replay some of the tasks multiple times. All the while, there’s the trademark bubble dialogue between characters that is laced with tongue-in-cheek humor that we’ve come to expect from Nintendo (especially in Mario titles).
Courses And Characters
Super Rush gives you the chance to play as all of your favorite characters from the Mario universe that have accumulated over the years, and they all have different strengths and weaknesses that you need to consider when choosing your golfer. For instance, a character like Chargin’ Chuck will give you plenty of distance off the tee but then will cost you in other areas like speed and accuracy. Mario is his usual reliably average self, offering decent skills across the board but not excelling in one particular area. This competitive balance achieves its goal of preventing any of the players from being too overpowered, but it still allows you to select someone who might better suit your own particular style of play.
At the risk of sounding like a film critic talking about a movie set in New York City, the courses themselves almost become another character within Super Rush. They all have their own level of difficulty, and each one has all sorts of different hazards and attractions that help keep them unique on multiple playthroughs. An easier course like Bonny Greens may not seem all that special, but Ridgerock Lake will require you to hit your ball into small tornadoes spinning throughout the course in order to get it to higher ground, and Wildweather Woods will see you having to deal with heavy rain and thunderstorms when you’re out playing on it.
Needless to say, each course’s specific layout will have you adjusting your game to accommodate all of its unique features.
What I Don’t Like – Mario Golf: Super Rush Review
Online Play Lacks Matchmaking
Perhaps we should simply be content that Mario Golf: Super Rush allows you to play online against others at all given that the biggest drawback of the last Mario Party game for the Switch was its lack of any options to play the game online. Still, there are definitely some limitations to the network play in Super Rush. The biggest one is that the online modes don’t have the kind of automated matchmaking that we’ve come to expect even from last-gen titles. Instead, it opts to have people set up and join various rooms depending on what kind of golf you wish to play.
Though there are at least plenty of options in terms of modes to play online — meaning you can choose between golf styles while also selecting how many holes you would like to play — the trouble then is finding someone who wants to play the same mode as you. At times, you may find yourself coming up empty in your search for a Battle Golf match for instance, and should you decide instead to create a room of your own to find opponents, the wait for others to join might prove so interminable that you eventually are left with no choice but to give up and decide to try a different online mode that more people are playing.
What makes all of this more frustrating is that the game plays really well online when you can actually find a match. The mad dashes to the greens to become the first one to complete a hole can frequently be extremely exciting and nerve-wracking, especially when you finally go to make your putt and it’s imperative that you quickly sink it because you can see others setting up their own putts on the same green.
Mario Golf: Super Rush is pretty much everything I could want out of a Mario Golf title. Its brand of simple but rewarding golf serves as a sturdy foundation that allows the game to build on it with all sorts of ways to play against and have you interact with your opponents. The Golf Adventure single-player mode is a helpful and entertaining way to learn the lay of the land and refine the skills of your Mii before pitting your skills against other opponents online. Unfortunately, the online play could have been improved with the implementation of some intelligent matchmaking.