Mario Golf: Super Rush’s arcade-style golfing action features surprising depth

'Speed Golf' feels like a totally different sport

Mario Golf Super Rush Screenshot

Mario Golf: Super Rush successfully brings the Mushroom Kingdom’s take on the often painfully boring sport of golf to Nintendo’s home console-portable hybrid Switch — and thankfully, it’s far more exciting than I expected.

I’ve haven’t spent much time with the surprisingly long-running Mario Golf series beyond Mario Golf on the Game Boy Colour (GBC). To this day, I’m not sure why I rented the game from Blockbuster when I was 11, but it’s etched into my memory as one of my favourite experiences on the handheld.

Mario Golf’s RPG-like story mode was compelling and allowed me to grow my skills alongside my tiny 2D golfer. In my gaming experiences in the years since, no title other than Golf Story — another great Switch title — has managed to capture the clever mix of character development and deceptively simple golf gameplay that Mario Golf for the GBC offered.

Thankfully, Mario Golf: Super Rush fills this void perfectly. The game features impressive motion controls where you actually swing a Joy-Con like a golf club, Wii Sports style, and thankfully, there’s also more traditional ‘tap-the-A-button-twice’ power metre gameplay. If you’re familiar with my taste in games, you’ll already know I opted for the latter control scheme.

“If you’re looking for something different to play this summer, Mario Golf: Super Rush could be precisely the game you’ve been waiting for…”

At the outset, Super Rush seems like any other golf game, only it’s set in the Mushroom Kingdom and features familiar Mario characters like Luigi, Wario, Princess Peach, Boo, Princess Daisy and more.

To an extent, the above statement is undeniably true. Each character controls slightly differently and has a unique special shot. You’re also able to select from countless different clubs, add spin to the ball and even curve it in different directions, just like in nearly every golf video game ever released.

Mario Golf Super Rush Screenshot

It’s when you get into ‘Speed Golf,’ a game type that flips the concept of traditional golf on its head, that things start to get more interesting. In Speed Golf, players run between holes while managing their stamina, knock over their opponents and are rewarded for completing the hole first.

This adds a sense of urgency to Mario Golf: Super Rush that I haven’t experienced before in a golf game and forces players to strike a balance between moving quickly to take their shot and setting up their swing perfectly. Sometimes, there just isn’t time to adequately prepare for the perfect swing and you have to just drive away blindly. I found this mode especially great for local multiplayer since it speeds up the turn-based nature of playing golf considerably, though it might not be for those who prefer to replicate the slow pace of real world golf in video game form.

Mario Golf Super Rush Screenshot

On the multiplayer side of things, there’s also ‘Battle Golf’ mode that’s a more compressed take on Speed Golf and has players competing in a small arena to complete a set number of holes first.

My favourite part of Super Rush has been the game’s RPG-like ‘Golf Adventure ‘that’s strikingly similar to Camelot’s Mario Tennis Aces, though I’d argue it has a little more depth to it. In story mode, you play as your Mii and move between different courses and game types, all while upgrading your character’s ‘Power,’ ‘Stamina,’ ‘Speed,’ ‘Control,’ and ‘Spin.’

While compelling, beyond building out your Mii’s abilities, there’s not much of a story featured in the game. Still, the collection of mini-games and various game types work as a great tutorial and allows you better to grasp Mario Golf: Super Rush‘s intricate gameplay. You’ll also meet familiar Mushroom Kingdom characters in Golf Adventure and purchase new clubs that are more powerful and have specific specialties. Amusingly, you’ll sometimes even need to sleep in a bed at the course’s clubhouse in order to push the story forward, a trope borrowed from several old-school RPGs.

Over the course of my time in Golf Adventure, I learned how to use a lob wedge properly, when it makes sense to drive as far as possible down the fairway and when I should hold back, and, of course, how difficult it is to hit a ball high enough in Ridgerock Lake so that you aren’t constantly bouncing off rocks. You’ll also quickly learn how useful backspin can be in certain situations and how to take advantage of the game’s overhead and third-person grid view that indicates the ground’s grading.

Mario Golf Super Rush Screenshot

If you’re looking for something different to play this summer, Mario Golf: Super Rush could be precisely the game you’ve been waiting for, even if golf isn’t necessarily a sport you’ve considered playing in video game form in the past. There’s a surprising amount of depth and strategy present in the game, and I’m looking forward to continuing to perfect my Mii’s Mario Golf skills.

It’s worth noting that since Mario Golf: Super Rush isn’t yet publicly available, I wasn’t able to test out the title’s online multiplayer mode. That said, there doesn’t seem to be any ranked play or a matchmaking system, which is a little disappointing.

Mario Golf: Super Rush will release on June 25th on the Nintendo Switch.