It's easy to make the mistake to credit Nintendo for all the successful games they publish, when in fact some of these games are developed by independent development studios with close ties to the Kyoto giant. Camelot Software Planning is one such developer, and for the last 15 years the talented teams has created sports games starring Nintendo's popular characters.
Prior to becoming a second-party developer for Nintendo Camelot made games for other formats and it's easy to spot the similarities betweens Mario's latest game and a popular PlayStation franchise Camelot created back before the Nintendo era - Everybody's Golf. Even if it's been more than 15 years since Camelot worked on Everybody's Golf the two still share a lot of similarities.
Your basic game of golf is simplified and turned into a easy to pick up and enjoy experience where a shot only involves three button presses, you switch club with a button and 18 holes can be negotiated in less than half an hour. Additional challenges in the shape of weather conditions, layout of the hole, various surfaces and level differences are clearly communicate in easy to digest graphics. The end result is one of the most accessible golf experiences there is in video games - one you can enjoy regardless of your interest in the sport.
It may sound all too simple, but Camelot have with the years worked out the perfect formula for this kind of game making it very difficult to put down once you've started. Additionally it's a perfect fit for a portable game where the simplicity makes it easy to pick up and play a couple of holes for a few minutes.
Naturally the Mario theme makes it's presence known. Right from the start you can dive into either Mario Golf or the so called Castle Club. Mario Golf offers are range of options, whether you wish to compete against friends or the rest of the world - this is the place to do so. The solo player can choose between Stroke Play, Match Play, Speed Golf, or Point Play, offering a range of competitive options where you get to play as one of many well known characters from the Mario universe - each sporting their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
Castle Club isn't as free-form in its design. Instead this is where you'll find the deepest challenge as you'll play as your own Mii with the objective of winning the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world. But it's not as easy as entering the tournaments and playing well, you also need to put in time with training exercises, and earn gold coins to buy better equipment.
The coins you earn allows you to buy equipment you've unlocked, and as you'd expect these come with various benefits and drawbacks. If you want to be able to drive the ball further you'll likely lose a measure of precision. It adds a certain RPG flavour to the experience, and if you're struggling to win a certain tournament you're tempted to go a few extra practice holes to earn enough for that new shiny club that could potentially make all the difference.
If you're looking for something a little more relaxed and Mario flavoured you may want to drop by the Royal Garden where Peach and friends have made some rather spectacular holes available. The objective is still to reach the cup with as few strokes as possible, but how you go about this is different. By hitting turbo pads your ball will automatically be sent closer to the flag, while there a bonus target that lets your ball fly faster and further. There are also gold coins to be earned here, a fun alternative if you need extra coins for that piece of equipment you've been eyeing.
We would be lying if we claimed that there has been much progressed since the last round of Mario Golf. In fact, the basic concept hasn't changed much since the foundation was laid with Everybody's Golf. Nonetheless Mario Golf: World Tour entertains and challenges us. It's perfectly suited as a portable game as it is as entertaining in short 5 minute bursts or hour long sessions. If you've already eaten your fill of Mario Golf or Everybody's Golf, you may not be willing to invest in more of the same, but for the rest it's an easy to access and captivating experience.