Mario Golf Review (N64) | Nintendo life

This review was originally published in 2008 and we’re updating and republishing it to mark the game’s arrival on Switch as part of the Nintendo Switch Online expansion pack.

After Mario’s forays into non-platform genres — you know, the karting, the picrossing, the Dr. Mario…ing – something has become clear to Nintendo: Put Mario in a game and it’ll sell by the bucketload. Soon Mario and Co. started playing in various kinds of sports games. In the years that followed, he devoted himself to baseball, soccer, and even Dance Dance Revolution. His very first headlining foray into the world of esports, however, came with Mario’s Tennis on the Virtual Boy – an awkward start thanks to that console’s commercial failure. Undeterred, Nintendo tossed the plumber a golf bag and shoved him down the fairway in a game that took about two seconds to think of a title.

So Mario Golf was on N64 nearly the first Mario sports game, certainly the first on a home console you’ve played on a TV, and it’s what you’d expect: golf, with Mario. Pretty self-evident thanks to this dynamite title, but it’s worth mentioning because if you’re expecting more of the dazzling spectacle of the mascot’s more recent sporting achievement — games that require genuine artistic license with the rules of nominal real-world sport — Camelot’s first shot in this one special series is a much more straightforward affair. It’s great fun, but you won’t be running down the fairway in this version of speed golf.

By default you get a number of different racquets to choose from; Woods, irons, wedges, depending on the terrain you’re teeing off on. For those new to video game golf, once you select a club and begin your swing, a power bar will appear. A small marker will then move along the bar from right to left and you press ‘A’ when it’s as far to the left as possible: the closer it is, the stronger your swing. The marker immediately slides back to the right and you stop it as close as possible to the point of origin: the closer you are, the more accurate your shot will be. You also need to be aware of the strength of the wind, which could throw your ball off course if you don’t adjust your shot.

Aside from being able to select an “approach” shot (to get the ball onto the green when you’re close but not quite there), you can select a “power” shot, which will fly the ball extra far leaves. When you start a course, you only have six power shots available. However, if you use one and then get a “perfect” shot (i.e. stop the marker with full power and perfect accuracy), your power shot will go up and the ball will fly even further, accompanied by a special effect depending on the character – Marios For example, ball is engulfed in flames. However, if you miss just slightly, you’ll miss the extra distance and lose your power shot as well.

This is one of the few Mario games with playable characters that aren’t from Mushroom Kingdom. You get Luigi, Wario, Yoshi, Peach, DK and others, but there are also a number of previously unseen “human” characters to choose from including Charlie, Harry and the most well-known, Plum. You also only have access to four characters to start with (Baby Mario, Peach, Charlie, and Plum) and to unlock everyone else (yes, even Mario!) you’ll need to defeat them one-by-one in Get Character mode. Don’t expect an easy ride either; The AI ​​is actually pretty rude to you.

Thanks to the fact that you unlock the characters in a specific order, the game arguably suffers from balance issues. The max travel distance of the starter characters is around 200 meters, but the last characters you unlock can all reach over 300, meaning there’s absolutely no reason to use the old characters once you’ve unlocked better ones.

The only other stat that matters is each character’s shot type; Some shoot the ball straight, but others have a “draw” or a “fade,” meaning the ball naturally goes to the right or left, respectively, and then curves back toward the center. That means you have to be extra careful around big obstacles like trees, and it introduces an extra layer of strategy, but overall it doesn’t make much of a difference.

However, the game has a lot of modes where you can test your skills. Aside from the Get Character mode mentioned above, there’s a Tournament, Mini Golf – which lets you unleash your putt-putt skills – Ring Shot (shoot the ball through floating rings), Speed ​​Golf (essentially a Time Attack mode) and a variety of versus modes such as Stroke Play (player with the lowest score wins), Club Slots (before each hole, you spin a slot machine that selects only three clubs for you) and more. The main game itself might be straight forward, but there’s tons of fun to be had as you gain experience and unlock new courses, of which there are eight in total.

The original game on N64 also allowed you to unlock more characters and transfer your player character from the excellent RPG-style Game Boy Color Mario Golf to this version, a feature sadly missing in later versions. But even without that functionality, the first Mario Golf title remains as solid and fun as it was back in 1999, and while it lacks the fireworks and gimmicks that have characterized Mario sports titles over the years (the kind of raw energy that would surely evict you from the St Andrews Clubhouse), there will be many fans of the game of golf for whom it is more measured and less so crazy approach will appeal all the more.


If you’re looking for a crazy golf game with Mario and the gang, you might be a bit disappointed with the original Mario Golf. Apart from a few holes shaped like Mario characters, each course is really quite ‘normal’ and doesn’t offer any manic Mushroom Kingdom obstacles to avoid; that’s a lot a golf game first. However, if you like a little more realism than more recent series entries (not much, mind you – there’s still a tie-wearing gorilla and a giant fire-breathing turtle as playable characters!), you really can’t go wrong here. Unlocking all the characters will be a long and difficult task, but you will have a lot of fun doing it. Grab your clubs and bright pants and hit the fairway. Foreground! Mario Golf Review (N64) | Nintendo life

Fry Electronics Team

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