Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour

Review

posted 8/7/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: GC
Cutesy golf games are all the rage with kids and the ladies. Just start up a game of Hot Shots Golf if you need proof. Chicks flock to that thing like Bush’s daughters to liquor. It’s the perfect additive for lonely geeks who are looking for the company of the opposite sex and for non-game savvy girls who wish to get away from Dance Dance Revolution and the Whack-a-Mole game at the arcade. Proof positive that the formula works? Hot Shots is currently in its third iteration and Nintendo’s own spin-off, Mario Golf, has just spawned a sequel. And oh yea, it’s pretty damn good.

To make a game of this type you need a few basic components; cute golfers, simple gameplay and some hum-worthy tunes. Mix ‘em together, put a Hello Kitty bow around it and you’ve got a recipe for success. Luckily Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour does just this and thus is a pretty entertaining cutesy golf game that will prove to be entertaining to both testosterone enraged males(myself) , and prissy girls who have managed to pry themselves from their Care Bear dolls(my girlfriend). Great indeed, but one may receive the wrong impression from the game if he were to give up on it too early.

Toadstool Tour stumbles right out of the starting blocks due to the relatively sparse features that are at your disposal. The first golf course is terribly pedestrian and to be honest the game doesn’t get interesting until about the third or fourth course. There are some interesting gameplay modes available such as the requisite stroke, match play and tournament modes. For multiplayer there are the lesser known, yet just as entertaining, skins games, co-operative modes, mini-games and an assortment of other goodies. There’s an excellent variety of modes at your disposal but that’s not the problem, it’s the boring courses that you’re saddled with that bring this title down.

To unlock more courses you’ll need to win tournaments, but this isn’t the problem. Most of the tournaments are pretty simple and can be beaten by most novice gamers. It’s the overall generality and blandness of the first few courses that really drag this game down. They’re so plain and ordinary and you’ll probably wonder why you’re wasting your time with this game in the first place. Seriously I’ve seen better Links near my home, hell the Arnold Palmer Golf Course at Empire Lakes is ten times better than the first two courses combined. It’s not until you get to the third course, Sands Classic, that things really start to get interesting.

When you get there you’ll notice a significant increase in terms of design originality and quality. The designers worked harder to ensure that you wouldn’t get that feeling of déjà vu when you move from one hole to the next. From this point on each hole feels unique, not only because of the interesting landmarks that adorn the holes, but because of the layouts and unique elements that put this game above other golf games. The next course, Blooper Bay, gets even better as the holes are more unique and the overall look is just gorgeous. Each hole features different landmarks, such as Mermaid shaped bunkers or tee boxes on the rears of boats, that makes them fun to play each and every time. From that point on it just gets better and this is when you really feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. It’s just a shame that it’s a good four-to-five hours into the game, well beyond the time that most of today’s ADD kids are willing to allow for a game to develop.

It’s ideal to play the character match first, doing so will help you unlock star players, stronger variants of the cast of characters. A character match has you play go up against an AI-controlled golfer with match play rules. Beating that character will allow you to use their star player, a statistically superior version of them. If you choose to jump right into the game you’ll have a difficult time, especially considering that most star players hit the ball 30-to-50 yards farther than their normal variants. The star player idea is pretty novel because it gives players of different skill levels a natural handicap. A weaker player can use the star character while the stronger player uses the normal character to help balance things out quite a bit.

Like all of the other Mario offshoots you’ll be able to select from a wide array of characters. Each of them looks and plays slightly different from each other and has strengths in other areas. Some characters have a pronounced draw in their swing while others are straight shooters, some are better at placing spin on the ball etc. There isn’t really too much of a difference between attributes though so in the end it all comes down to a matter of which character you adore the most. Overall there are about 20 characters including a few hidden ones such as Shadow Mario and Boo, the ghost. As mentioned before stronger versions of each character can be unlocked and if you desire, each player can become left-handed.

This is where the characters really begin to show off their personalities. Nintendo games are known for containing personable characters that grow on you, Toadstool Tour is no exception. Each character is unique in their own right, both in terms of look and personality. What really gives each character charisma are their post hole animations. After you sink the ball into the cup your character will perform an animation that corresponds with how well you did. You’ll see funny things like the Koopa Troopa performing a dorky dance or Wario smacking his big behind, back that ass up style. They’re funny and are a true joy to behold and as an added bonus, they never really get old or annoying. Each player also has their own taunts, most of which are genuinely funny.
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