Mario Golf: Super Rush – Speed at the Cost of Content
Golf. It is a great sport. Sure it has some image problems and some serious issues with inclusivity, but the actual act of playing golf is something I have always enjoyed. The same goes with video game versions of the sport. I enjoy the virtual striking of a little white ball more than most. I have spent ridiculous amounts of time with golf games over the years, enjoying myself immensely. I love the serious versions, like PGA 2K21, and the arcade versions like Hot Shots (Everbody’s) Golf equally, spreading myself between the two types of golfing experience. So, with all that love for golf in my heart I was looking forward to Mario Golf: Super Rush immensely. It should have been a hole in one for me, the exact person this sort of game is aimed at. So why do I feel so hollow and disappointed?
Let me start things off with the good points. Super Rush plays wonderfully. The actual mechanics of golf are nothing new, but they are executed to perfection here. Reading the course, judging the shot, striking the ball all feels familiar but at the same time, satisfying. Using the old two-button press method, one for strength, one for accuracy is a tried and true golf game staple that Camelot has put to good use here. Being a Mario game there are a few little tweaks and additions that add to the game. You can adjust topspin and backspin depending on which button you press and there is a super shot that you can use once you have built the super meter up with good play and collecting coins around the course.
Speaking of collecting coins around the course, perhaps the biggest difference between standard golf and Super Rush is that in a lot of the different modes there is also a requirement for the player to sprint to their ball and take their shot. The holes are often scored with a combination of how long it took the player to finish as well as how many shots it took. This initially added a bit of urgency to the game until I realised it was almost always better to take an extra second to hit a good shot as opposed to rushing things and perhaps finding yourself in trouble. Once I had come to that conclusion, the need to speed through the game was gone and the whole gimmick of the game fell apart a little.
That is, except for the multiplayer modes, where rushing between holes is half the game. Well-timed speed boosts knock other players on their butts as you zoom through them towards your ball. It almost feels a little like Mario Kart in the way you can take out others, running from ball to ball. It certainly adds that competitive feel towards things and really livens up the course. Multiplayer is where Mario Golf: Super Rush shines. The joy of playing with others papers over a lot of the cracks in the rest of the game and it can be played without any of the baggage from the single-player modes. Battle golf is another Multiplayer addition that has Mario Kart throwbacks that, at its best is a lot of fun. Sadly I see plenty of room for griefing here and I feel like it will probably end up ruining the mode.
The Single-player modes are where things really fell apart for me. The adventure mode touted as the return of the much-loved RPG elements from earlier Mario Golf games is a giant letdown. Annoying and useless NPCs litter a world map that is a chore to navigate around. Challenges are simple and unrewarding and the various different speed modes on offer are essentially all the same thing, just with a different way of keeping track of time. The fact that I completed the entire adventure in under three hours is just the off cherry to top off this disappointing souffle. The fact that certain shots, like the lob shot (an essential shot in the game of golf) is locked behind a mid adventure upgrade and can only be performed with a lob wedge (which is certainly not the case in the real sport) is more salt in the wounds. Camelot is artificially hamstringing players in order to draw out a chronically short mode and it is just frustrating.
The final nail in the coffin for me is the lack of content. There are only six courses and that is simply not enough. PGA 2K21 offers 39 courses out of the box, plus a community-supported course creator. Granted there is some difference in the games here, but surely the team at Nintendo can come up with more than 6 courses. Everybody’s Golf, probably the best direct comparison to Super Rush has 8 courses and a far superior and more engaging career mode. There is no escaping the fact that Mario Golf: Super Rush feels almost barren in comparison to other games and struggles to justify its price point.
While the game itself plays well and is a blast with a group of friends sitting around the TV, there is just no denying that Mario Golf: Super Rush simply doesn’t offer enough bang for buck. Finishing the adventure in one sitting after fighting with its inconsistencies and then realising there was nothing left for me to do by myself was a crushing blow and is why I feel like this is one of the most disappointing games in recent memory. If you have a group of regular couch gaming buddies or an online crew there is no doubt you will have fun, the core mechanics are great. For those that like to take things on their own, you are best to wait and see if there are more courses added down the track or looking at one of Mario’s golfing competitors because at this moment, Mario Golf: Super Rush will only let you down.
Mario Golf Super Rush was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with code kindly supplied by Nintendo Australia