Over the years, Nintendo‘s iconic plumber has proven that there is no sport, activity, or even hobby that he and his friends won’t try. The game of golf ranks highly among them, but Nintendo fans have spent the last decade without a major update. That’s set to change this May with Mario Golf: World Tour, and early reviews imply the game has been worth the wait.
Developed – like all Mario Golf titles as far back as the Nintendo 64 – by Camelot Software Planning, the 3DS-exclusive is facing serious pressure and expectations. Besides bringing engrossing 3D to the existing formula, the developers are also charged with concocting a multiplayer experience that will live up to current standards for online gameplay.
The first reviews have been released online, and although World Tour may not be the masterpiece some will have been hoping for, 3DS owners who have enjoyed the series in the past will likely be making a trip to their nearest retailer come launch day.
Eurogamer (Chris Schilling):
“Some would argue the case for Tiger Woods’ analogue control, and Nintendo might point to the remote-based mimicry of Wii Sports Club. But neither quite captures the elegance and rhythm of a perfect swing the way this does.”
IGN (Brian Albert):
“You don’t have to be a hardcore golf fan to get hooked on Mario Golf: World Tour. It rewards good play, gives plenty to do, and is a great teacher. Its incremental approach to challenge kept me coming back to test myself, and the post-game challenges and multiplayer modes inspired me to play in new ways even after I thought I was a pro.”
Polygon (Griffin McElroy):
“Though the game’s story mode and progression mechanics fall flat, Mario Golf: World Tour holds firmly to the series’ solid mechanics, providing a plethora of modes, unlockable content and some of the most robust multiplayer capabilities I’ve ever seen on the 3DS.”
“Camelot seems unsure of whether it would prefer to be held by the hand or simply set free, and ends up putting the player in that same awkward middle ground.”
Game Informer (Matthew Kato):
“Despite some of the missteps, World Tour’s bedrock gameplay remains a reason to check out the title. The 3DS’ touchscreen is used to add draw, fade, loft, and drive to your shots, and it works well. Additions like this and online play show that the series hasn’t remained stagnant in its long interval, but they aren’t entirely unexpected, either.”
Gamespot (Stace Harman):
“Its disjointed structure makes it less accessible than it should be, but this is a game built upon the simple satisfaction of golf mixed with the goofy charm of Nintendo’s most popular mascots, and for the most part, it succeeds in delivering an endearing and fun experience.”
Destructoid (Dale North):
“It has been worth the wait, as Mario Golf: World Tour took that next step and brought us an outstanding online golf experience. The learning curve is steep, and there are some issues with the camera and aiming control, but working through them is worth it as the online play is outstanding. “
Nintendo World Report (Neal Ronaghan):
“It shines the brightest when you’re sitting back, trying to knock off a stroke or two on the back nine while competing against your friends in an online tournament. World Tour works best as a golf game first and a Mario game second.”
GamesRadar (Henry Gilbert):
“Mario Golf: World Tour is competent at its worst and excellent at its best. It keeps its gameplay tight and approachable, looks great in stereoscopic 3D, and finally has a modernized approach to online multiplayer.”
What do you make of the reviews? Is it disappointing to hear that the decade-long absence hasn’t resulted in a flawless Mario Golf? There’s plenty of additional content coming in the future, but golf fans will likely find the launch game up to par.
Mario Golf: World Tour releases May 2, 2014 for the Nintendo 3DS.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.