Mario Golf: Super Rush – Nintendo Switch
“Mario Golf: Super Rush offers elegant golf systems, but no content that makes good use of them.”
Excellent golf mechanics
Funny motion control
Creative party modes
Too few courses
Mario Golf: Super Rush is a case where the master becomes a student. When the original Mario Golf launched in 1999, there wasn’t much competition in the golf simulator market. It’s a much more crowded field these days thanks to the recent wave of outstanding indie golf games. With Super Rush, Nintendo seems to be taking notes of the very titles it inspired.
That’s not to say that it isn’t pushing its limits. Like other parts of the sports series, the new Nintendo Switch game features fine-tuned golf gameplay that constantly reminds players why Mario became the king of the fairway in the first place. It’s just that a lot of what it brings to the table has been done better in the past few years by “rookies” who have a better grip on how to put an entire game together.
Mario Golf: Super Rush features the best core golf mechanic the series has to offer. Unfortunately, the experience disappoints with a mysteriously sparse package that doesn’t offer enough good reasons to refuse.
Even if there is a lot to criticize about the overall package, the 18-hole round in Mario Golf: Super Rush is an absolute pleasure. For decades, the developer Camelot has refined its golf mechanics and constantly improved a wheel that doesn’t need to be reinvented. Super Rush is the culmination of over two decades of work and features sleek golf systems that anchor the experience.
At a basic level, it doesn’t seem that much different than any other golf game. On the right side of the screen is a meter that determines how much power goes into a shot. Press a button to initiate a shot, press again to set how far the ball will fly, and watch a golf ball sail away on a satisfactory shot.
However, what is so appealing about Super Rush is that players think a lot more about the shape of their shot. In many golf games, it is easy to hit the ball as hard as possible every time, ignoring all the nuances. That is not the case here. It does an excellent job of visually communicating all of the little things that affect the trajectory of a shot. As you descend a hill, the shot indicator flexes to show exactly how it is off course. There is also a red “Risk Zone” that appears at the top of the display, which signals that a full-force stroke may lose some control. Little hints like this make every shot a more active experience, calculating risks and mitigating variables.
In addition, some of the more complex golf systems are easy to understand and execute. To add topspin or backspin, tap the right button when setting the shot indicator, while spin is applied simply by pressing the joystick as the indicator builds up. It’s all so intuitive and invites players to actually use each system instead of writing them off as expert techniques.
Super Rush is the culmination of over two decades of work and features sleek golf systems that anchor the experience.
It’s worth noting that this is the first Mario Golf game to ever have motion controls, as the series completely missed the Wiimote era. While high-level gamers will likely stick to button controls, this is a fun and functional option for those looking to exercise. Additionally, the motion controls work in almost every mode, which is a huge step up from the little-used Mario Tennis Aces motions.
This is simply the best the sport has ever felt in a Mario Golf game, and maybe in general. As someone who has played countless golf games over the years, this was one of the first times I really felt like I was using every tool in my pocket.
Where is the content?
The question is: what can you actually do with this tight system? This is where Super Rush takes a disappointing turn. There’s a bizarre lack of content in the game. It includes a normal golf mode that allows players to play any of its six courses freely, and a somewhat ridiculous “Challenge” tab on the main menu that only has a point attack and time attack option.
Most of the content is in the game’s Adventure mode, which brings back the roots of the series’ RPG history. Players create a Mii character and follow him through a half-baked story full of diverse golf challenges. Players compete in different types of matches, improve their stats as they level up, and purchase a small handful of gear along the way.
When it ended, I returned to the main menu and stared at the screen, unsure of what to do next.
The entire experience feels more like a tutorial for the game’s multiplayer modes than anything else. It walks players through the basics of new ideas, like a stamina knife that comes into play in game modes where players actually walk the fairway between strokes. Because of this, it never meditates on anything for too long or asks players to improve their skills. Each challenge feels like a basic introduction that is gone as soon as it starts. As soon as the campaign waits until the end to introduce crazier ideas, such as boss fights where players have to fine-tune their shots to blast elemental explosions back at huge creatures, the adventure ends.
I finished Adventure Mode in six hours, bought every single piece of gear, and unlocked all six courses. When it ended, I returned to the main menu and stared at the screen, unsure of what to do next. It felt like I had hit a dead end where all I had to do was try to improve my score on the same few courses. Each character has two sets of unlockable clubs that they get by collecting enough “points”, but that’s the scope of the post-adventure hook.
It’s really bizarre when you compare it to previous Mario Golf games. I spent over 30 hours in the Nintendo 3DS title Mario Golf: World Tour completing challenges, unlocking characters, and collecting all the gear I could equip my characters with. Super Rush is just not a game for solo players looking to put their skills to the test, which makes it an expensive alternative to great (and cheaper) Switch contemporaries like Golf Story.
Golf with your friends
The lack of single player content could suggest that Nintendo is viewing this as more of a multiplayer party game. It’s an understandable mindset because that’s where the game shines. Playing a round of golf with friends is a relaxing multiplayer experience that is perfect for carefree trash talks. Super Rush is also perhaps the most stable online Nintendo experience I’ve ever had, which makes it even more appealing than trying to play something like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with friends.
All three game types have unique strengths, but they ultimately get disappointed with the same content issue that plagues single players.
The default golf mode is the star of the show here, thanks to small quality of life improvements that make the game faster. For example, an “all at once” option lets all players tee off independently, so no one has to wait while a perfectionist friend finishes his shot.
For those who find normal golfing too dry, Super Rush has some clever modes that feel made for parties. In speed golf, players literally race across the fairway to be the first to complete a hole. Characters can crash into each other between shots or fire special shots that can confuse their opponents. Luigi’s Special, for example, can conjure up a large patch of ice on the floor that makes putting a slippery affair. It’s a messy mode that adds lots of laughs to a traditionally no-nonsense game.
Battle golf is a slight variation on this idea, but it takes place in a small circular arena with nine holes. The first player to claim three holes wins, which leads to some really tense fighting when there are only a flag or two left.
All three game types have unique strengths, but they ultimately get disappointed with the same content issue that plagues single players. There are only two arenas available in Battle Golf, one of which is just a small variation on the other. With just six main courses, standard and speed matches get thin after a session or two.
Nintendo confirmed that Super Rush will be receiving free DLC, so maybe we should expect the slow, steady roll-out of a live service game here. There will be more courses and characters to come, so eventually there will be more reasons to play. Give me an excuse to get back on the fairway and I’ll block out an evening to play a new 18 hole game with my friends – golfing feels so good. Until then, Mario Golf: Super Rush has about as much depth as a par-2 course.
On paper, Mario Golf: Super Rush should be a hole-in-one. The basic golf experience has never been better, and multiplayer modes like Speed Golf offer a clever twist on the formula for the casual gamer. There isn’t much else to do other than the brief, disappointing adventure mode. Free DLC should help make up for it in the long run, but a general lack of content leaves the package half dry for now.
Is there a better alternative?
Golf Story features a much better version of Super Rush’s Adventure mode, and Apple Arcade’s Clap Hanz Golf is a great option for those who want a simple golfing experience.
How long it will take?
Adventure mode will be over in six hours. After that, it’s all about how much you can milk from the six aisles and multiplayer.
Should you buy it?
No. At least not at the moment. After a few free DLC courses, it may be worth buying, but the lack of actual game modes makes it difficult to justify the full price by then.