Checking out Mario Golf’s New Donk City update

It’s good to see the excellent Mario Golf: Super Rush getting some ongoing support from Nintendo — and it’s also great to see high-profile figures like well-known YouTubers Game Grumps showing the game some love, too.

As I type this, Mario Golf: Super Rush has just received its first major update, which brings a new course based on Super Mario Odyssey’s New Donk City level into the mix, as well as Toadette as a playable character. There’s also a new ranked multiplayer mode, which allows you to unlock coloured Yoshi variants, as well as a “character points” system that unlocks new sets of clubs for different characters according to how much you use them.

Mario Golf: Super Rush update

I put the new update through its paces by playing a solo round of Time Attack Speed Golf on the New Donk City stage using Toadette, and I had a good time — though there are a few things some players may like to note.

Probably the most noticeable thing is that New Donk City in Mario Golf: Super Rush doesn’t look nearly as nice as it did in Super Mario Odyssey. Blurry textures, a fair bit of aliasing and limited “little details” around the place make it clear that Mario Golf: Super Rush’s engine isn’t really built for close-quarters environments like this. It’s recognisable as New Donk City, absolutely — but it just doesn’t look quite right.

That said, we’re not here to explore and admire the scenery, we’re here to play golf — and despite my initial reaction to the visuals, I soon found that I didn’t really care any more, because this is a really interesting and fun course to play.

Mario Golf: Super Rush

Consisting entirely of short par 3 holes — some as short as just 25 yards — New Donk City is a course that tests your golfing skills in a completely different way to everything else in the game so far. This is a course about short, accurate shots as well as being able to manage elevation and wind; as you progress deeper into the 18 holes, the action moves off the ground-level streets and onto the rooftops, with spectacular chip shots from one skyscraper to another.

New Donk City is a course that highlights how arcade-style golf games like Mario Golf: Super Rush are as much a physics puzzle as they are golf game. Obstacles litter the course, meaning you’ll often have to bend your shots over or around things that are in your way, and it’s clear that the emphasis here is on your approach rather than putting; the vast majority of the greens are fairly flat or at least very forgiving, meaning it’s entirely possible to sink the ball with some solid chip-ins if you set things up properly.

Particular highlights include a hole whose green is almost entirely surrounded by roadworks barriers, meaning you’ll need to carefully chip it over in order to even get near the hole, and a sequence of holes in the back 18 that require you to either hit a ball up to a skyscraper much taller than where you are, or one memorable one where you need to tonk it off the edge to a considerably lower rooftop, mostly blind (aside from the map).

Mario Golf: Super Rush update

It’s definitely an enjoyable course, and so long as you don’t respond too negatively to the slightly janky visuals — if you’re a Switch owner, you’re likely used to making graphical compromises, so this probably won’t be an issue for many players — there’s potential for plenty of fun here. I can see this being a lot of fun in multiplayer — particularly with the potential for shoulderbarging opponents off rooftops and suchlike!

As for Toadette, she’s a speedy character with good control but poor power and spin — exactly what you might expect. She’s not especially remarkable in any way, but she’s actually a good fit for the New Donk City course; with how short most of the holes are, you don’t need power but you most certainly do need control!

Her special dash sees her flinging Super Mario Bros. 2-style vegetables out either side of her as she runs, which means you’ll probably want to give her a wide berth if you’re racing her along a course, and her special shot is one of the many in the game that blasts away opponents’ balls (shush) in its landing zone.

Mario Golf: Super Rush Toadette

She’s fun to play as, but doesn’t feel especially distinct from most of the other characters in the game. If nothing else, though, it’s nice to see her in the playable cast for completionism’s sake; she’s a reasonably major character in the game’s Adventure mode alongside Chargin’ Chuck (who was playable from launch), so it’s surprising that she wasn’t playable already. That injustice has been rectified now, however.

The best thing about the New Donk City and Toadette update for Mario Golf: Super Rush is that it’s completely free, in keeping with Nintendo’s other sports game releases in the last few years. Other developers would have released content as major as an entire new course and playable character as paid DLC, but here all you need is a bit of spare space on your SD card to breathe some new life into your Mario Golf: Super Rush experience.

Mario Tennis Aces, a much less fondly regarded installment in Mario’s sporting adventures thanks to its complex controls and unusual mechanics, has enjoyed seven updates over the course of its lifetime to date, so hopefully we’ll see similar support for Mario Golf: Super Rush. If anything, since the Mario Golf has had a much more positive reception — including the aforementioned attention from high-profile YouTubers — it’s more likely that we’ll see continued substantial updates going forward.

Mario Golf: Super Rush Toadette

And I’m all for that — Mario Golf: Super Rush is already a highly enjoyable game, and with more stuff to do and more characters to play as it can only get better. So bring it on!

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Pete Davison
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