This latest entry is simultaneously the most fun and stress we've had with the sport.
You're probably familiar with the situation where your opponent is one shot ahead on the all-important final hole, which, on top of everything else, suits him very well. Scaring your opponent by shouting in the middle of a shot is generally frowned upon, and bribing officials to kick balls into sand traps can quickly become costly in several ways.
Fortunately, Mario's latest golf adventure offers some good options for this tricky situation. For example, if you're playing as Luigi, you can use a super attack to freeze the entire green, causing your opponent's ball to both bounce further and also roll extra far. And that should then give you the space you need for that much-needed comeback. Because as you've already guessed from the name Mario Golf: Super Rush, there's no simulator you get here, although parts of the game come surprisingly close to just that.
In its foundation, this is a good golf game. There are surprisingly intuitive yet in-depth systems for skewed shots, control over how the ball rolls, an overview of the golf course, and an intuitive HUD explaining your options. That in itself isn't surprising, as developer Camelot Software Plannings has made countless golf games in the past, both with and without Nintendo characters.
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The downside of golf games, in general, tends to be that they are based on... well, golf. In short, they're insanely slow-paced. If you don't like the sport of golf, trying to guide a small ball to a small hole over a huge course is immediately unbearable. In the early development phase of Mario Golf: Super Rush, the developers and Nintendo seem to have been thinking about what they can do to entice people who don't play golf to get the game. The solution is the Super Rush mentioned in the game's title, namely a game mode that runs on time. And it's not just about hitting out fast, but also about running across the courses to get to where the ball lands quickly.
That means the game has a built-in unexpectedly enjoyable three-dimensional platformer, with me and my opponents running like savages across the courses in pursuit of our painfully angled shots. There's jumping over water, sand traps, and shortcuts of all sorts - although shortcuts often become long routes if you're not careful. Combined with the unique characteristics of the characters and the hectic pace, this quickly proves to be a real treat in the company of good friends. Everyone wants to be the fastest, strike the furthest and mess with their opponents the most.
Of course, it is also possible to play standard golf, with or without special strokes. You can also adjust how many holes you want to play and split the screen so up to four people can play at the same time. Considering how sleepy it can otherwise get in golf games waiting for your turn, which often ends up with people picking up their mobiles to check Twitter instead, playing the holes at the same time is clearly a better solution to make sure everyone is engaged at all times.
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If you know you'll be playing mostly by yourself, there's also an adventure mode of the same kind as in previous Mario Golf games. The story is pretty much as paper-thin as you might expect, and the dialogue consists mostly of familiar creatures from the Mushroom Kingdom uttering the same guttural sounds over and over again while a text explains what's going on. The adventure is designed as a light role-playing game, and you play as your own Mii, then learn to run faster, hit longer, curve better, and so on.
If you really loved the story mode of the previous installments, you'll probably have fun here too, but for my own part, it felt more like something I had to drag myself through for this review, rather than something I enjoyed. I found the game's other solo mode all the more enjoyable, which is basically just Mario Golf: Super Rush played alone. Either to get as few strokes as possible or as fast as possible.
Content-wise, it offers 16 characters to play as (17 if you count Mii), most of which are familiar from Mario Kart. However, King Bob-Omb and Chargin' Chuck have also been added here, with the former having the game's longest swing, while the latter instead has a really good special that can make opponents' balls fly all over the place. The golf courses are also very varied and cleverly designed in a way that makes you initially just want to stop and look at all the lovely Nintendo references.
However, Camelot Software Planning doesn't quite have that Nintendo touch when it comes to the technical stuff, and I feel that this Switch-exclusive game from 2021 isn't as smooth, polished, and elaborate as the more than four-year-old Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This includes the sometimes overly bright colors, sparse textures, and slightly half-ugly shadows. On the other hand, the music is just as good as one could wish for with both old and new material.
Fortunately, I don't think many people who buy a Mario golf game are concerned with whether or not the technical aspects are up to par, and in the end, it's all about the enjoyment of the game. And here it delivers big time. Mario Golf: Super Rush is deep enough to serve as a decent golf game for the Switch with every Nintendo feature turned off, though it's still not a simulator of course. If you're going to play by yourself, you should really love the idea of a golf-themed Mii-adventure with cutesy narration and pointless storytelling, but once you get someone/someone to play with, it grows on you big time. With all the fun stuff activated, it quickly becomes an entertaining party game, and Super Rush really is the crowning achievement that makes it impossible to be bored with the probably slowest ball game in the world. And that's a feat worth something.
8 / 10
Fun selection of characters, varied game modes, intuitive interface.