Review: Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS)

The Nintendo 3DS has undeniably become a runaway success and that could be accredited to the fact that Nintendo have bought so many of their infamous series to the platform. The much loved Mario Tennis series even saw a release on the platform back in 2012. With such a wealth of content available on the system, it comes at great surprise that one of Mario's finest sport outings hasn't been made available until now.

That being said however, the launch of a new Mario Golf title isn't one for reflection but for instead, celebration. Well certainly in my case that is. Before we get under-way with the review, I'll clear a few things up that will soon become apparent, I love Mario and I actually also love Golf. So what is one of my favourite sport simulation series ever? Yep, you guessed it...

Mario Golf: World Tour is Camelot's latest iteration in the long running Mario Golf series. It follows a similar style to previous games in the series, in the respect that players will be playing as various Mushroom Kingdom characters in a bid to defeat various courses set across the Mushroom Kingdom. It's a winning formula that is obviously doing something right, considering the healthy life-span the series has seen. However, Camelot are preparing to spice things up a little with the latest addition to the series, with the addition of a whole new aspect of gameplay.

It's time to smash those balls like our green hatted friend.
New aspect of gameplay, you ask? Well, that would most certainly be Castle Club. You've most likely never encountered Castle Club before, which will come at quite a surprise considering it's the biggest virtual golf club in the Mushroom Kingdom. What makes Castle Club interesting is the fact that the club isn't just a series of menus, but instead a fully fledged environment, giving players the freedom to walk (or even run) about it's many areas. The wealth of content within the Castle Club will come in the form of three different 18 hole courses: Forest, Seaside and Mountain.

Taking a closer look at these courses, this is where the main structure of the game lies. In the respect, that you'll progress through a series of championships with these courses to obtain cups. Here you'll be heading it up against some of the Mushroom Kingdom's finest golfers, as each course ramps up in difficulty. It would be fair to say that the courses do begin to present some difficulty, in that case, a trip to the club's practice ground is in order. Here you'll be able to pick up some valuable tips to increase your driving, pitching and putting ability. It's a fantastic inclusion and will likely provide a lifeline to less experienced golfers.

Also located within the club's grounds are your classic Nintendo courses, nicely resembled by an appropriate Mario themed statue. These 9-hole courses are more akin to what can be found within classic Mario Golf titles, as players unlock through completing a series of challenges, more on that later however.

Its not quite Pine Valley, but the Castle Club will soon become your golfing home.
Other than that, the Castle Club is generally a pretty nice to be, it's tucked with little nooks and crannies with plenty to explore throughout. Indoors will give you access to the club shop, and it's here where you'll be able to purchase a variety of items to better aid your golfing experience, this can include anything from clubs and equipment to various items of clothing. Here you'll also find the adjoining Club tea-rooms, which provides nothing more than a nice antithetical touch to the game. Talking of antithetical touches, you'll find plenty more to discover, including a prestigious trophy room, gym area and the very exciting Royal Room.

The Royal Room is where you'll find yourself upon beating one of the Championship courses at the club, where Mario and Peach (Captain and Lady Captain naturally) will present your trophy. Within this room is also a selection of faces from across the Mushroom Kingdom. This all links into the beautiful Royal Garden, where you can access the aforementioned Mario themed courses.

We're pretty sure Yoshi is a dinosaur, but we'll agree to disagree on this one Nintendo.
Castle Club is a wonderful place to generally wander round and explore and for that reason, it's quite easy to forget that there's golf to be played. We won't delve too deeply into the sport that is golf, as we could be here all day, so we'll presume you have a pretty basic knowledge. In fact, with Mario Golf, a knowledge of golf is all you need, considering the game asks for no real skill, but instead the ability to project the ball with accuracy across the hole and then putt in from the green. The golfing aspect plays pretty similar to previous iterations in the series, quite casual and laid back.

You'd find it easy to believe that there's enough on offer, exploring the ins and outs as playing as your Mii within Castle Club. However, also accessible from the Main Menu is "Quick Round", which is essentially Mario Golf in a more classic format. From here, you'll be able to take part in stroke and match play, speed golf and point play, playing as various characters, including favourites such as Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Donkey Kong and many more, plus unlockables. Playable in this mode are of course the championship courses that you've completed in the Castle Club and your Mario themed courses.

Speaking of these Mario themed courses, they're unlocked using a series of challenges. Collecting Star Coins will unlock you new Mario themed courses to play in this mode and from the Royal Garden over at the Castle Club. It's a nice way of doing things.

There ain't no golf game without Donkey Kong...
This area of the game also opens up connectivity to Mario Golf: World Tour's online aspects, which are in their own right, pretty expansive. Tournaments provide great competitive elements across the globe, even giving players the opportunity to host such tournaments of their own. Furthermore, players can indulge in online vs matches with other players across the globe and more interestingly, within communities, much like within Mario Kart 7. Single Player content within World Tour will in time undeniably run dry, but online modes should keep the experience drawn out for a little while longer.

Mario Golf: World Tour also looks and sounds fantastic, with great levels of presentation. Camelot have really hit the spot in terms of the visuals, with the series truly never looking so good.

In conclusion, Mario Golf: World Tour is a triumph on Camelot's part and some of their finest work within the Mario sports series to date. Castle Club ads an innovative new aspect to a series that we're already particularly fond of, plus online play provides the ability to keep returning back for more. If that wasn't enough, the inclusion of classic Mario Golf style gameplay should attract the rest of the series' fan base. If you're looking for a rewarding title, with great levels of depth, look no further. + Josh Moorcroft-Jones

9/10 - Camelot have hit an all time high with the Mario Golf series. We really can't commend the wealth of content on offer enough, with Castle Club providing a fresh new take on the game's formula. For golfers and Mario fans alike, virtual sporting gets no better than this.

Review copy provided by Nintendo

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