Mario Golf Super Rush is aptly named. The latest collaboration between Nintendo and developer Camelot Software feels like a title rushed to market.
This sixth entry in this long-running spin-off series sees Nintendo’s iconic mascot take to the green for the first time since Mario Golf World Tour on the Nintendo 3DS. While the return of the Mario Golf franchise is very welcome, it’s a great shame that the final product feels so bare-bones.
Of course, even the most mediocre of Mario’s many excursions into the sporting world are usually enjoyable. This is true of Mario Golf Super Rush as well. However, there’s a real sense of untapped potential here. What’s on offer is (mostly) good; there’s just not anywhere near enough of it.
If you’re craving something to play in short bursts on your Nintendo Switch, then Mario Golf Super Rush will likely suffice. If you’re looking for something to play for dozens of hours, you’ll need an alternative. Read on for our full review of Mario Golf Super Rush.
Mario Golf Super Rush review: Gameplay
Mario Golf Super Rush doesn’t drastically change the formula that has made the series so popular for more than two decades.
Just like its predecessors, Mario Golf Super Rush is an arcade take on golf. The fundamentals are remarkably easy to grasp. Within a few minutes you’ll be hitting powerful drives onto the fairway and sinking long-range putts. The game swaps mechanical depth for an instant fun factor. Whether that’s a worthy trade-off is down to individual preference.
Hitting your shot on target is easy, with a simplified aiming system that draws a line on-screen, showing you exactly where your ball will land. You do have to account for the wind, but this is easy to do after mere minutes of practice.
Adding the correct amount of power to your shots is also straightforward. The power bar tells you exactly how much oomph you want to put on each shot. Plus, if you build up a meter you can perform a special swing that launches your ball like a rocket.
Strangely, you’ll spend an awful lot of time in Mario Golf Super Rush running to your ball after taking a shot. Multiple modes in the game require you to run in-between strokes. This is at best, tolerable filler, and at worst, tediously dull. Why Camelot focused on the most boring part of actually playing golf, I cannot understand. Thankfully, you can still play regular golf in some modes, which teleports you instantly to your next shot.
If you don’t fancy playing with buttons, or want to get non-gamer friends and family involved, you can use motion controls. Swinging a Joy-Con as a golf club hearkens back to the glory days of Wii Sports. The motion controls are imprecise, butl functional. Plus, their inclusion opens the game up to a wider range of potential players, which can only be a good thing.
The courses in Super Rush are diverse. You can play on rolling green hills, sandy desert dunes and even in a lava-surrounded castle. Most of the stages have unique Mario elements and hazards to avoid, which can mix up the moment-to-moment gameplay.
The problem is there simply aren’t enough courses: only six in total. To exacerbate matters further, two (arguably three) of the courses are visually very similar to one another. Nintendo has promised additional post-launch content, which will hopefully amend this problem.
Mario Golf Super Rush definitely prioritizes player enjoyment over simulating the actual sport. This feels appropriate for the series. There are already many realistic golfing games out there, and this is a Mario sports title, after all. You wouldn’t really expect a grounded take on golf from a game where an oversized turtle swings a club with one hand.
Mario Golf Super Rush review: Speed Golf, Battle Golf and Golf Adventure
Aside from just playing a standard round of 18 holes, Mario Golf Super Rush also offers a variety of modes. Unfortunately, this is where the game stumbles.
Before launch, there was a lot of fanfare for the new Speed Golf mode. While it’s completely misnamed (it’s actually slower than regular golf), the mode is generally good fun to play even if the novelty does wear off rather quickly.
In Speed Golf every player tees off simultaneously, and must then dash to their ball on foot. The winner of the round is the person who gets their ball in the hole first. However, each stroke adds 30 seconds to your timer. You can also sabotage your opposition, but the options are limited, and normally, it’s not worth the hassle. Success in Speed Golf requires a careful balance of speed and precision.
Another new mode for Mario Golf Super Rush is Battle Golf. This mode places you in a shared arena with nine holes and multiple hazards. The first player to sink three balls wins. Unfortunately, Battle Golf feels like a tacked-on mini-game rather than a properly fleshed-out flagship mode.
A match of Battle Golf usually takes less than two minutes, and victory is easily achieved by ignoring the other players. Actually battling with your opponents serves only to hamper your chances of winning. Furthermore, there’s only a single map for Battle Golf. It feels very much like an afterthought.
The biggest disappointment in Mario Golf Super Rush is the single-player Golf Adventure. It starts off promising enough. You begin in a quaint wooden house, with Birdo as a sort of bizarre mother figure, and are instructed to go out into the world and become a golf champion. It feels very reminiscent of the start of a Pokémon game.
However, the mode is nothing more than a glorified set of tutorials. You’re whisked through the six available courses, learning the basics and how to play each game mode. A somewhat ridiculous narrative pops up later on, but it feels illogical, even for a Mario game.
Here, you’ll also find the game’s worst spin on golf: Cross Country Golf. In this mode, you must complete multiple holes consecutively within a set number of strokes. The course you play on feels ill-suited to the mode, and creates a frustrating difficulty spike in an otherwise very forgiving single-player experience. Thankfully, the mode isn’t featured anywhere else in the game.
Even unskilled players can beat the whole adventure in as little as 5 hours, and once it’s over there’s no reason to return.
You can, of course, play online to show off your golfing prowess to the whole world But again, the options are limited. There’s no tournament play, so you can compete only in single matches to earn bragging rights. There aren't any unlockables, such as alternative outfits for Mario and pals, either.
Mario Golf Super Rush review: Visuals and sound
Mario Golf Super Rush definitely doesn’t look as polished as a flagship Nintendo title like Super Mario Odyssey. But it's still absolutely bursting with vibrant color and personality.
There are a couple of welcome visual touches, such as Mario and the rest of the cast wearing golfing gear rather than their traditional outfits. Plus, the way that characters like Bowser and Donkey Kong hold a club in a single fist is very charming.
The more advanced courses have solid visual designs. Wildweather Woods is a personal favorite, as its spooky atmosphere stands out against the traditional green courses that you’ll tackle first.
It’s a shame that Mario Golf Super Rush doesn’t have a more memorable soundtrack, although the main menu music does a good job of getting you excited when you first boot up the game. The less said about the headache-inducing squeaks the characters make in Golf Adventure, the better. I was forced to mute my Switch fairly early on.
Mario Golf Super Rush review: Verdict
What's most frustrating about Mario Golf Super Rush is that it nails the fundamentals, but doesn't get much else right. Speed Golf is a fun alternative to the regular golf mode, but Battle Golf and the Golf Adventure feel underwhelming.
After spending little more than a weekend with Mario Golf Super Rush, I feel like I’ve already seen just about everything it has to offer. The enjoyable gameplay simply cannot make up for the dearth of content. Mario Golf Super Rush isn’t quite a swing and a miss, but it definitely lands in the rough.