Mario Golf: Super Rush Review (Switch)
Release Date: June 25, 2021
The world’s busiest plumber must be getting burned out a bit. His last relaxing round of golf came with the Gamecube’s “Toadstool Tour” and since then Mario has found himself working across the galaxy a couple of times, visiting a metropolis, and saving fairies. He has even spent some time on the soccer pitch, as well as the tennis court. Now, Mario has once again found a moment for self-care and leisure as he makes his way back to the links in Mario Golf: Super Rush and despite a few handicaps (pun intended – more to come), Mario has managed to knock off the rust and still perform pretty well on the course in this Switch outing.
The majority of the hype from the RPG community for Super Rush would obviously come from the return of Adventure Mode. This mode has arguably been the strongest selling point for the franchise during its early years. Story/ Adventure and the accompanying RPG mechanics were surprisingly absent on the Gamecube’s “Toadstool Tour,” but a progression system has finally returned for “Super Rush” and…it’s just…kind of…ok.
The gist of the story involves your Mii making their way to the Mushroom Kingdom and joining Chuck, Boo, and Toadette as a group of amateur golfers attempt to become successful enough to join Mario and his pals (and enemies) on the Pro Tour. The first half of Adventure Mode is a bonafide tutorial and does a decent job of introducing basic swing mechanics, wind judgement, and green reading. Accomplishing tasks and playing courses earns your Mii EXP for upgrading basic golf attributes like power, accuracy, spin control, etc. Super Rush introduces a brand new category, however, speed.
Progression is essential if you ever plan to use your Mii in the game’s other modes as it is shocking to see just how far behind your Mii is when you attempt to use them against mainline characters in Battle or Speed Modes. Progressing further enough along in Adventure Mode opens up segments in which the game will begin to ease you into what makes Mario Golf: Super Rush so unique in the game’s other modes. That being the speed and battle twists that would NEVER be included in a golfing sim. Good thing this is Mario Golf, right?
Unfortunately, Adventure Mode shanks the tee shot in a few aspects. Most notably is the inexplicable absence of motion controls while playing Story Mode. For the life of me I can’t understand this exclusion. Motion controls happen to be my favorite way of playing the game so it’s disappointing to learn that this is the only game mode that doesn’t include them. Secondly, the character voices…uggghhhh. Each NPC communicates via yelps/ barks. That’s a normal staple of Mario games but you’re likely to hear a dozen or more of the same annoying sound with each interaction. Remember how terrible the in-battle voices were in Xenoblade Chronicles: DE? Yeah…imagine that multiplied by 10.
In an unexpected turn of events, it’s the other modes of Super Rush that really carry the game. Speed Mode and Battle Mode turn out to provide the arcade experience that we never knew we needed from a golf game. Each of these modes allows the player to choose motion controls or the traditional 3 click button controls that most golf games have adapted. For those that played Wii Sports, the motion controls of Mario Golf: Super Rush will feel very familiar. I know some will cringe after reading that sentence, but I want to reassure everyone that the Switch Joy-cons are much more accurate and responsive than those old Wii-motes. The sensitivity and swing recognition are as close to a golf simulation that one will find in a game. For example, if the Joy-con is facing outward at the point of contact, you will slice. If it is facing inward (toward your body), you will pull or draw the ball. Just like real golf!
The tried and true 3 click system is the same as it’s always been. Click once to start the swing. Click again to set the power of the swing, and a third time to
gauge accuracy. Both mechanics work great although motion controls will be the more difficult of the two until you have fine tuned your swing.
Once you’ve determined your favorite method of play, it’s time to choose which unique arcade mode to enjoy. Speed golf is as it sounds – it completely obliterates the old methods of golf such as taking your time to visualize, ponder distances, and read greens. Instead, your goal is simply to get your ball into the hole before your fellow competitors. Accomplishing this in fewer strokes does earn bonus points, however. What’s even more unique about Speed Mode are the choices it introduces to the player.
Each course will have coins to gather that will earn a temporary speed boost for your chosen character. The choice comes when you must decide to veer slightly away from the beaten path and bank on the speed boost to catch up and pass your competitors, or to simply make a bee line for your ball and grip-n-rip until you find the bottom of the cup. The excitement this creates is very similar to some of the last lap scenarios in Mario Kart. I’d like to reiterate that this is a GOLF game we’re talking about here.
Battle Mode is more of the same with exception that it introduces some sandbox, battle royale ideas to the fold. At the beginning of a match, you’ll notice that the course will be an open world of sorts. You’re immediately free to rush to whichever tee you see fit and proceed to play the hole. No particular order is required. Your competitors are allowed to do the same, however, thus creating the intensely addictive race to sink your ball in the cup first and claim the hole for yourself. The goal is simply to win more holes than the opposition.If an opponent sinks their ball first, the hole is lost for good and it’s time to start over from a different tee box.
The arcade style chaos comes in the form of speedboosts, temporary power ups, and items that may be used to delay or obstruct an opponent from sinking a shot and claiming the hole. Want to toss a shell to knock an opponent down on the fairway and speed by them? How about tossing a bomb-omb on the green and blowing the opponent’s golf balls back out into the fairway while they helplessly watch? Cause as much chaos as you like, but be aware that your opponents WILL use the same tactics, as well. The Mario Kart-like arcade drama will have you hating your fellow competitors more than Brooks Keopka hates Bryson DeChambeau. This is exactly what makes Battle Mode so addicting.
The Mario Golf franchise has never really focused on wowing players with the greatest graphics. It typically relies on vivid colors and eye-catching course designs. Having said that, Super Rush’s graphics are beautiful. The wacky courses that feature secrets and shortcuts are here, but not to the extent of previous entries. The courses are fun but most fall short of the delightfully strange links of “Advanced Tour” and “Toadstool Tour.” The silver lining? This is the first Mario Golf title that will likely feature DLC a little further down the road. More characters will likely be added, but I’m also hoping for more unique courses and I feel confident that Nintendo and Camelot will deliver when the time is right.
The aforementioned “barks” of NPCs aside, the music and sounds within Mario Golf: Super Rush are well produced. I’m particularly a fan of the weather sound effects. The soothing sounds of the breeze and the pitter-patter of rain drops are surprisingly immersive for a game that has absolutely no interest in being thought of as a simulation.
This experience playing Mario Golf: Super Rush was very similar to sinking a downhill 30 foot snake of a putt. Within the first couple of hours of adventure mode, I was convinced the game had no shot of being anything better than average. But then Speed Mode brought things back towards the hole a bit and there was hope. Finally, as I mastered motion controls, Battle Mode (playing both online and with my family) caused everything to realign and break the right way for the game and it is a load of fun to say the least.
The game has its handicaps. Most are related to the average Adventure Mode and its curious absence of motion controls, annoying voice work, and the deep hole required to dig your Mii out of to be competitive in other modes. Course variety comes up a little short of the hole, but the same can’t be said for the character roster. I prefer to play as Rosalina or Waluigi but each character brings unique attributes to the course. Speed and Battle Modes are what make Super Rush the fun experience that it is and one that I can comfortably recommend for fans of golf games – and competitive, arcade style games – alike. Adventure Mode only manages to save par, but Mario Golf: Super Rush aces the zany, arcade feel of Mario Kart with its Speed and Battle Modes.