Fore Score and 14 Years Ago –
I missed out on Mario Golf for the Gameboy Color back when it was first released in 1999; I was more of Mario Tennis kind of guy at the time. But thanks to the August 2013 Club Nintendo program and the 3DS Virtual Console, I was given the chance to go back to experience this RPG golf title that holds up well even today.
Instead of being just a straightforward golf game, Mario Golf is an RPG and the starting character, either male or female, grows the more the game is played. Each match, tournament and practice session will reward the player with experience points which is then used to level up. Once a new level is gained, the player can choose to power up a few different categories. The game is even played from a classic 8-bit RPG overhead map perspective instead of just navigating everything from a menu. This added detail brings charm and imagination to the entire experience; it really separates Mario Golf from most other golf games. You can even talk to NPCs or find experience boosting 1-Ups by clicking on parts of the environment.
As great as the experience system is, it is still simple by design. Although you cannot upgrade your clubs, balls, caddies or even change outfits, new characters and courses become unlocked once the reigning club champ is beaten. Beating these stereotypical characters is no easy feat either. You really need to play flawlessly, like in real life golf, if you want to be a champion. In fact, you might even need to grind a little bit, like in most RPGs, to be able to best your rivals.
For a GBC game it is hard to knock the graphics when the system specs were so limiting. It is a little strange to be walking around as a red skinned character but the golf courses and swing perspectives are actually very well done considering. The musical score is composed of remixed classic Mario tunes which caps off the entire experience.
Like other Virtual Console downloads, this game is limited to a single player experience which is unfortunate because golf can be a highly competitive multiplayer game. Also, there is no way to digitally link up with the N64 (Wii Virtual Console) version to import your character. This is a bummer because this was one of the most outstanding features of both Mario Golf and Mario Tennis.
This GBC version was released a few months after the N64 game and in all honesty, I prefer this handheld version over the console title. The basic 3-click swing mechanics does not reinvent the wheel but the RPG elements, challenging AI, and charming tone make this a worthy $5 download.
Also Try: Neo Turf Masters (NGPC)
Better Than: Cyber Tiger (GBC)
Wait For It: Mario Golf Advance Tour (GBA) Virtual Console release
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGaz