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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Camelot

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

August 2003

 

 

- Accessible and serious golf at the same time

- Great multiplayer game

- Variety of courses

- Lots of different modes of play

 

 

- Can be completely frustrating at times

- No big deal made about hole-in-ones

 

 

Review: Outlaw Golf (GC)

 

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Mario Golf - Toadstool Tour

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

I’ve said it before; I’m the last person that you’d find on a golf course – unless I’m spinning donuts with a monster truck.  This is probably why I’ve always shied away from golf videogames, especially anything approaching a “serious” golf game like EA’s PGA Tour.  Last year I plunked down in front of Outlaw Golf and was completely surprised by how much I got into it and how much of a “serious” game it actually was.  Mario Golf - Toadstool Tour (MG) sneaks under my “serious” golf-sim radar.  Make no mistake: MG is serious golf sim.  However, it’s also very accessible, even for the youngest of players.

 

mario golf toadstool tour gamecube review          mario golf toadstool tour gamecube review

 

The magic with MG is that you can play the game as hardcore as you want.

 

MG’s default setups – club selection, power level, shot direction, etc. – for each hole makes it easy for the novice player to jump right in and start having fun without racking up a huge score (thanks to the two-button swing method).  For the more fanatical, you can take full control of just about everything, except the weather conditions.  Put backspin on the ball, select a putter when a 1W is what you really need, and knock the ball back to the tee – it’s all fair game.  A more thoughtful player will manage lower scores, but shouldn’t blow out even novice players.  Logically, some of this depends on the courses, some of which are incredibly tough.

 

There are the usual “real world” courses with rolling fairways lined with trees and spotted with bunkers and water.  Then MG delves into the more fantastic (and more diffcult) with play happening in a forest canopy and a strange Egyptian-themed death course, among others.  In fact, I hate the Egyptian-themed death course.  My first few run-throughs resulted in scores well above par (+28, +26, +29) and many of my shots were actually knocked toward the tee so I could get a better shot lined up.  This course in particular is difficult for a couple of reasons. One, sand traps everywhere! And two, fairways that have extreme topography.  The sand is a given, but hitting the ball successfully to the top of a flat-topped pyramid is extremely difficult.  If you’re a nuance player, these kinds of courses will be a challenge but you won’t be pulling your hair out in frustration.

 

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In actuality, MG is a very fun game, particularly if you have some friends over.  (And if you’re trying to get your wife/girlfriend interested in videogames, MG is a perfect candidate.)  Besides the usual golf modes and options, MG includes Tournament, Doubles, Character Match (solo play against an AI opponent), Ring Shot, Club Slots, Coin Shoot, Match play, Skins Match, Near Pin, Speed Golf and Stroke Play.  (There is also a Training mode that lets you practice any holes you’ve unlocked, with the added ability to adjust the weather 

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conditions.)  Ring Shot and Coin Shoot offer a lot of entertainment for multiplayer games.  In Ring Shot you have to hit your ball through strategically placed rings on the course and get par to score points.  This forces you to not only be creative but accurate as all hell.  It just wouldn’t be a Mario game if you couldn’t collect coins and that’s the goal of Coin Shoot.  Here’s another mode that rewards accuracy and creativity – collect as many coins on the way to the pin and score par to make them count.  As you progress through 18-holes, the coin value tends to increase, with the most valuable ones in sand traps or in other tricky lays.  And since the first golfer always gets a “clean” course – no coins missing yet – and the last player gets the leftovers, you’re guaranteed some heated “discussions.” These can also be played solo or against the computer, but you miss out a little because during multiplayer games you can trash talk your opponents (or alternately, offer encouragement) via onscreen dialogue balloons.

 

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Besides the difficulty of some courses, another downside to MG is scoring a hole-in-one.  On some holes it’s just not possible – with a Par 5 it’s not happening – but on a Par 3 it is possible.  Statistically, scoring a hole-in-one is extremely unlikely.  Given MG’s cartoon sensibility you would think a hole-in-one would be a much-celebrated event.  Well, I’ll let you in on a secret.  When you score a hole-in-one here’s what happens: nothing.  When you hit a great shot, you get some graphical highlights and when you make a particularly long putt, there’s a shot of rainbows blowing out of the cup.  But when you make one of the most statistically difficult shots, you get a scroll of “Hole-in-One”.  It doesn’t affect the gameplay, I just found it annoying – not that I was scoring all that many hole-in-ones.

 

Other than the hole-in-ones, Camelot didn’t skimp in the presentation department.  The graphics are altogether good.  Even small touches are accounted for, like swaying vegetation and big divots for misjudged shots.  Thanks to the camera control, you’ll have a good idea of where each shot is (generally) going and the putting grid does a great job of providing you the lay of the land.  The sound design is up to Nintendo’s standards.

 

While many sports games can only be recommended to fans of the particular sport, Mario Golf - Toadstool Tour is a good game that can be recommended to (practically) everyone.  It can be as in-depth as you need or as simple as you want.  And with the multiple modes, great course selection, and unlockables, you’ll be playing for a while.

 

- Omni

(September 14, 2003)

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