Mario Golf: Super Rush sets itself apart from the rest of the series by going all in on a variant of golf that I would have expected to see in a Sonic sports title before a Mario one. The name of the game this time around is ‘Speed Golf’, based on a real type of golf that actually takes into account the time to beat a course, and not just the number of strokes taken to sink the ball in the hole. Super Rush uses this inspiration to jazz up the golf gameplay and add a unique dimension to this latest, Switch, edition of the Mario Golf series, but does it actually result in a birdie or a bogie? Golf reference!
While Mario Golf‘s normal style of golf gameplay is available, the focus is heavily on Speed Golf, which seeks to combine platforming and golfing. After taking a swing, players have to rush to where their ball has landed to take the next stroke, before a timer runs out, or to get a lower time compared to their competitors. As an idea to inject some mayhem and chaos into what is typically a fairly sedate sport, it works. Running madly after your ball as soon as you’ve swung, using special dashes to unbalance your opponents, and send their balls flying, is especially fun when playing with friends as it results in the kind of hilarious exasperation and torment that normally only results from an extended Mario Party session. Super swings, unique to each character, also have special effects that can break through obstacles, or make life difficult for your friends affecting ball movement or even icing up sections of the green. It’s all fun to unleash on your mates.
Unfortunately, the platforming, and Speed Golf in general becomes, less engaging when playing against the computer. On the one hand, it’s easy defeating opponents who hardly ever take the opportunity to use their abilities in creative or devastating ways. And on the other, it’s also easy to accidentally fall down a gap in the environment due to dodgy controls, from which there’s no obvious way to platform back, costing you boatloads of time or a reset back to the first hole of a round. Managing your stamina is important as you run, making sure to pick up boosts in the course, or carrying a light load of clubs so your character isn’t weighed down – it just doesn’t really feel that intuitive or fun.
That’s a shame because the bulk of Mario Golf: Super Rush‘s experience is made up of the ‘Golf Adventure’ single-player mode. It’s a cute idea that sees your player-created Mii start their career as a professional golf player, developing their skills against Mario C-Tier characters like Chargin’ Chuck, as they earn badges and unlock courses around the Mushroom Kingdom. In fact, Golf Adventure is the only way to unlock all of the six courses in Super Rush, so playing it is mandatory to get the most out of the game. It does do a good job of teaching you Mario Golf‘s mechanics, but its challenges generally start to become repetitive, aside from a few exceptions.
One of these is a puzzle-like ‘Cross Country’ mode, where you’re given a large area with multiple holes and a stroke limit, leaving you to figure out how to sink each hole and in what order, as effectively as possible. It’s a cool idea, and a different spin on golf that’s fun to play in short bursts, and come back to in handheld mode. It’s also similar to the more fleshed-out and highlighted ‘Battle Golf’, which pits players in an arena with 9 holes and asks them sink three before anyone else can – as holes get removed with each successful attempt. This is meant to be a more competitive and focused experience to drive conflict between players over limited holes, much like Mario Kart‘s Battle Mode, but lacks energy and feels generally easier than it should.
The actual golf mechanics running Super Rush are pretty solid. You can hit A once to set distance, with carry and run indicated by gauges, then again to set power. You have pretty fine control over the ball’s spin in mid-air, able to dart back and forth from left-to-right several times (depending on how much you upgrade your Mii’s handling stat), which while not realistic is pretty fun to experiment with, along with top and backspin. While the game does a good job explaining mechanics to you, it’s slightly less successful teaching you about the differences in clubs or the importance of different loadouts, meaning you’ll either want to go in with a knowledge of the different between a 5 and 9-Iron, or be willing to experiment on the green to sort things out. Overall, the actual golf gameplay is fun, even if the platforming and ‘Speed Golf’ is a bit hit or miss that only really hits its stride in multiplayer.
While aliasing and resolution issues crop up in Super Rush, even in docked mode, the game’s six courses are all colourful and unique and there’s a well-rendered roster of Mario characters to choose from like most Mario sports games. One interesting addition is motion controls, which you can access with the Joy-Con, although it doesn’t really provide any great accuracy, instead just being a fun gimmick that you’ll use with friends, then reach for the Pro controller when playing on your own.
Beyond the Golf Adventure mode, there’s really just online and multiplayer matches to look forward to, as there’s no deeper tournament system or further single-player options. At the moment, Mario Golf: Super Rush feels hampered by this lack of options. While the golf mechanics are solid, and Speed Golf is fun with friends, the Golf Adventure mode loses steam halfway through and once it’s finished, there’s not a lot else to do right now. If your copy of Mario Tennis is worn out somehow and you need a new Mario sports game to satiate your friends competitive desires, then Super Rush will get the job done – just. However, like its title implies, you might find you’re done with it in a Super Rush.
-Colourful graphics and a fun, wide roster of Mario characters -A unique attempt to meld platforming with golf -Genuine great fun in multiplayer
-Speed Golf just isn't as fun in single player without friends -Battle Golf isn't a great mode either -After trudging through the Adventure Mode, there doesn't feel like much of a reason to keep playing