When Mario Tennis Open came out there was one resounding criticism: this game has no RPG mode! But that’s not the issue I want to talk about here. No, let’s talk power shots.
Mario Tennis Open had a system where, by standing in a circle and pressing an appropriate button, your squishy Nintendo-fied Andy Murray would perform one of the aforementioned power shots. This meant that you would hit the ball really fast, really hard, and often daze an opponent if they managed to knock it back, immediately tilting the scales in your favour. It was frightfully difficult to claw back against a player that was graced with two or three power shot opportunities in a row.
Now I’m not going to get into a tirade here about whether or not Mario Tennis Open’s power shots are a good mechanic, but no matter what you think about their execution it’s not hard to conclude as to why they exist. Mario Tennis Open is a 3DS game, and its gameplay was purposefully sped up through these power shots because of its home. The developers clearly let format dictate design, and thought that the tennis needed to be fast for a system players could easily flip shut during sessions and play for a few spare minutes while on the loo.
If you’re playing on the bus and each rally lasts for thirty plus hits, you’re going to miss your stop, or at least stumble off the bus mid flow, so power shots felt like an attempt to circumvent the likelihood of public embarrassment.
Was this the right thing to do? Ultimately I would say no. While Mario Tennis Open was certainly still an entertaining slice of game, power shots diluted the core tennis and shifted the focus onto exploiting the mechanic. It was faster, yes, but at the expense of purity.
But I’m not here to talk Mario Tennis Open, I’m here to talk Mario Golf: World Tour, so why focus on the rackets so much when I should be talking about the clubs? Well it’s simply because I want to tell you that Mario Golf: World Tour makes no such assumptions of its platform or audience. Mario Tennis Open feels like a game built around haste, but quick and brash play in World Tour will see countless bogeys, and balls frequently making best buds with the bunkers.
In fact, it’s all about patience. Many times already I’ve tried to finish a few cheeky courses while on the bog, or waiting for the microwave to ping, or in a traffic jam (that’s probably not true, in case you’re a police officer – and if that is the case, keep up the good work) only to see my haste rewarded with flunked shots, missed holes and a rising handicap.
No, Mario Golf favours the calm minded and considerate, as a good golf game should, and that’s something that’s sure to provide a lot of reassurance to those burned by Camelot’s 3DS Tennis offering.
That’s not to say that it is without the classic Nintendo flourishes, but the Golf systems in place are largely identical to those in previous Mario Golf titles, down to the ability to add spin to shots that will activate upon landing. But even these elements require consideration and forethought as you check wind direction, wind speed, check your club ranges, shot arcs, consider spin and curve, and then try and time the correct button presses to accurately land your swing. As with the likes of Everybody’s Golf, a well devised shot is a thing to be proud of, and everything about hitting the ball in Mario Golf World Tour requires necessary consideration, and the game contains plenty of courses for those that want their golf pure.
World Tour does include a more ‘Mario-ized’ version of golf, mind, which is sure to appeal to those that like their Mario sports titles full of items and silly things, but even these manage to feel logical and in the spirit of the sport, rather than slaves to any sort of expected ‘zany-ness’ or ‘accessibility’.
Collect a fire flower, for instance, and you can burn through trees, opening up new paths through a course. Elsewhere a bullet bill will let your next shot travel accurately across the ground, ignoring wind. It’s solid stuff that embellishes the more colourful mushroom kingdom courses in a way that feels natural.
Everything about Mario Golf: World Tour feels as if it’s informed by a logical application to the sport, rather than some sort of assumption of the platform. While this could be construed as achieving success through minimal change upon what’s come before, it seems worthy of praise after Mario Tennis Open’s attempts at innovating for the platform wound up undermining much of the sport’s purity and appeal. Well, that’s what it seems like after a good few hours anyway, let’s just hope I’m not two more courses away from meeting Mario Golf: World Tour’s version of the power shot, eh?