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Mario Golf: World Tour Review: Too Much of a Good Thing
A few years ago, some friends and I traveled to Vegas for a quick weekend getaway. After a long day of gambling, we decided to find and eat at a good buffet. We’d been to buffet-style restaurants before, but that experience was largely relegated to small midwestern family-style restaurants whose idea of haute cuisine involved heating up sub-par foods pulled out of a freezer. We figured that Vegas was known for its buffets, and when in Rome, right?
Once we got out on the buffet floor, however, it actually became kind of a problem. Entire sections of the floor were devoted to different styles of food; Chinesse, seafood, American, Italian, German…it was a neverending wave of dishes and entrees the likes of which no one could possibly ever eat in one sitting. Then, the question became even more difficult: What to eat? Was it wise to pair crab legs with chicken fried steak? Mashed potatoes with Stir Fry?
There was, essentially, too much of a good thing.
That’s the best way to describe Mario Golf: World Tour; it’s a buffet, a sampling of many wonderful and different ideas all conveniently packed in one game. And while most of these ideas are very fun and rewarding to play, the game itself feels like an overstuffed buffet full of too many good things.
From the start, you’re offered one of two options to play: Mario Golf, the seemingly more whimsical and cartoony version of golf starring various characters from the Mario universe, or Castle Club, the in-game country club loaded with various courses and played using a Mii character.
Choose Mario Golf, and you’ll be taken to a screen offering you the chance to play Single Player, Vs., or a Tournament mode. Single Player offers basic stroke play, match play against another character, a speed round in which to complete a hole, and a points-based tournament. Vs. matches players against each other in local, online, and community matches, and tournaments can be entered so scores are uploaded and shared with the rest of the world.
There’s also ten challenges to be completed on each course in Single Player mode, each with their own unique hooks. Collect coins, hit the ball through hoops, play against another character, and complete holes in a specific amount of time to earn coins and, in turn, unlock more courses for play.
Because it allows you to determine options ranging from number of holes all the way to strength of the wind, Mario Golf’s single player mode offers a great pick-up-and-play experience with a great deal of technicality and one-more-level appeal. Although it’s easily digestible, however, it still tends to feel a bit convoluted and samey. Modes such as speed golf and coin collection challenges repeat themselves, and even competing against an AI character doesn’t add a whole lot of tension or stakes to the game. There’s simply too much to it, and its lack of focus gives the game more opacity than was certainly first intended.
Castle Club is the veritable campaign of the game, in which a player works to improve the handicap of their Mii by practicing shots and competing in tournaments. It’s an impressive little campaign; an entire country club serves as a navigable menu, allowing you to choose which clothes to wear, which courses to play, championships to enter in, and even what upgrades you’d like to buy. It’s incredibly charming and has a much more well-defined vision than the Mario Golf single player options.
The only downside, however, is that the Castle Club is not the option for quick rounds of golf. It often results in games that last for multiple holes, eating up your time in larger chunks than its counterpart. This isn’t a completely negative thing, as the tournaments and challenges in Castle Club are very well defined and clever. It simply doesn’t lend itself well to the quick bursts of gameplay that Mario Golf is typically so accommodating of .
In fact, that may be the strangest part about Mario Golf: World Tour. It feels like two games in one, duct taped back-to-back rather than seamlessly existing alongside one another. It’s disjointed and confused, and although it’s highly approachable to all skill levels and the core game mechanics are very fun and require a lot of skill to master, there’s simply too much to the game to make it the the flawless experience it almost is.