What does the new Mario Golf offer beyond Adventure mode?

Having beaten the excellent — if relatively brief — Golf Adventure mode on Mario Golf: Super Rush, it’s time to turn our attention to the rest of what the package offers as of its launch at the end of June 2021. I say “as of its launch” because if its predecessor Mario Tennis Aces is anything to go by, we can expect this game to expand considerably over time in a variety of ways.

Don’t let the prospect of the game improving over time put you off playing it now, however; what we have in the launch version of the game is already excellent, offering a variety of ways to play for both solo virtual golfers and groups of friends, both on and offline.

Battle Golf

Mario Golf: Super Rush - Battle Golf

The conclusion of Mario Golf: Super Rush’s Golf Adventure mode encourages you to make your first stop after beating it to be the Battle Golf mode. This is the variant of golf we see Mario and company playing in the introduction sequence to the game, and, in terms of in-game lore, is the most prestigious golf-related event it’s possible to compete in; to be qualified for Battle Golf is to be world-famous and ready to stand alongside the greatest professionals in the sport.

Battle Golf is a mode for one to four golfers — up to three of whom can be computer-controlled — in which everyone is simultaneously competing to sink three balls before their opponents. Stroke count doesn’t matter; it’s all about direct competition rather than time here, so you don’t even have the “30 second per shot” mechanic found in the various versions of Speed Golf you’ll have seen elsewhere in Mario Golf: Super Rush.

Battle Golf’s arena is self-contained, featuring a selection of holes in close proximity to one another. Once someone sinks a ball into one hole, it closes up and becomes unavailable for everyone else. As such, playing effectively involves making quick decisions about whether you take aim for the hole nearest you but which is also being targeted by your opponents, or if you decide to take a more roundabout route.

Mario Golf: Super Rush - Battle Golf

Both options have their pros and cons. Go the way that your opponents are going and you have the potential of messing them up with your Super Shot, which really comes into its own in this mode. Go a different way, meanwhile, and it might take you a bit longer to get where you’re going.

Optionally, Battle Golf can involve “Rush” events every 30 seconds or so. These involve things happening in the arena which either help or hinder you and your ball. Having a Super Star makes you invincible and speeds you up, for example, while a Bob-Omb Rush causes the exploding mischief-makers to fall from the heavens, potentially knocking your ball well off course after you spent all that time lining it up carefully.

Battle Golf is a ton of fun, whether you’re playing solo or with friends, but there are a couple of drawbacks at the time of writing. Firstly, it’s a shame that it’s only possible for two players to compete simultaneously on a single Switch; if you want a full four-player match you’ll need to either play online or via local connection. This is true for any of the modes in Mario Golf: Super Rush that involve simultaneous play — it’s presumably to ensure that performance doesn’t suffer in modes with more players, since the game as it stands runs at a slick and consistent 60fps, but it’s still a bit of a shame.

Mario Golf: Super Rush - Battle Golf

Secondly, the mode could do with some sort of “tournament” option, particularly for local play. Single matches are over quite quickly — usually less than five minutes — and so if you want some more substantial competition you’d better get out the pen and paper and set up your own tournament bracket or league table. Like we used to do in the good old days!

Tournament functionality could also help get around the “only two players on one Switch” thing — if the game featured the ability to manage a tournament between multiple players and set up pairings to determine who played against whom and when, then it would be an excellent party game that wouldn’t require any extra preparation from players.

Thirdly, there’s only two arenas at the time of writing — though you can play each with or without the Rush events. To be fair, each game of Battle Golf tends to unfold rather differently from the last, so the fact there aren’t many different arenas isn’t a huge issue — but if Nintendo wants people to enjoy this mode in the long term, it will be good to have a bit more variety on offer.

These drawbacks aside, Battle Golf is a great addition to the mix. Like many of the other ways to play in Mario Golf: Super Rush, it provides an interesting and unusual twist on some familiar mechanics, and works well as both a solo game and a multiplayer affair. Definitely well worth your time.

Standard Golf

Mario Golf: Super Rush - Standard Golf

By “Standard Golf”, Mario Golf means the kind of golf most people are familiar with. There’s no running from one shot to the next and no timers to worry about — it’s just about sinking the ball in as few shots as possible.

The Standard Golf offering in Mario Golf: Super Rush offers a variety of options. You can play turn-based golf with up to four players — optionally with pass-and-play functionality for those who don’t have enough controllers — or you can play with simultaneous tee-offs. Like Battle Golf, this latter option is restricted to two players on one Switch at a time — and again, you can get around this by playing either online or a locally connected game.

Standard Golf in Mario Golf: Super Rush can be played in either stroke play or a variation on match play called Point Match. Regular match play golf is for two players competing against one another one-on-one; Mario Golf’s Point Match mode allows up to four people to compete to win each hole, with points awarded according to your finishing position in terms of number of strokes. Stroke play, meanwhile, can be played by up to four players, with the winner determined by the lowest score at the end of the game.

Mario Golf: Super Rush - Standard Golf

Matches of either type can be played on any of your unlocked courses, and can unfold across three, six, nine or 18 holes. If playing less than the full 18, you can pick which hole you would like to start from; the holes will wrap around from 18 back to 1 if you decide to start late in the back nine. You can also choose how much wind you’ll have to contend with, and which set of tees you’ll be starting each hole from — plenty of flexibility to set up custom matches here.

One thing it might have been fun to see would be some sort of “mutator” option that would allow hazards that are unique to each of the courses to appear in unexpected places. The heavy rain and club-zapping thunderclouds of Wildweather Woods would be an interesting addition to the other courses, for example. It would also have been fun to have an option to play a multiplayer take on Cross-Country Golf as seen in the Golf Adventure mode; perhaps this will be added later.

Mario Golf: Super Rush’s Standard Golf option is a solid choice, then; if you’ve got a group of four people who want to play together on one Switch without having to devise turn orders and improvised tournament systems, this is likely your best bet for local fun for now.

Speed Golf

Mario Golf: Super Rush - Speed Golf

Speed Golf is Mario Golf: Super Rush’s unique selling point, and it’s one of the most enjoyable ways to play. Like Standard Golf, Mario Golf offers you a variety of options to suit your situation — once again, you’re restricted to no more than two simultaneous players on a single Switch, but again, you can play with up to four people online or through local connection.

There are two main ways you can play Speed Golf. The first tasks the participants with competing for the best total time across three, six, nine or 18 holes. The second awards players points according to how quickly they finish each individual hole, with points awarded according to finishing position; most points at the end of three, six, nine or 18 holes wins. Like in Standard Golf, you can choose to start at any hole on any of your unlocked courses.

An optional “Time Advantage” system gives players who are lagging behind in the rankings a head start on each subsequent hole, and once again you can choose how much wind you want to have to deal with.

Mario Golf: Super Rush - Speed Golf

Speed Golf allows Mario Golf: Super Rush’s courses to really shine, because most of them have been designed to be interesting to run across as well as hit the ball across. Many fairways are considerably broader than you’d see on conventional golf courses, and multiple routes to the green encourage you to find a good “racing line” as well as making accurate shots.

Speed Golf doesn’t discount the importance of reaching the hole in the fewest number of strokes completely — each stroke adds 30 seconds to your final time, so those who finish under par are more likely to get better times. That said, the very nature of the time-based scoring system can make for some interesting upsets at times — so be ready for some surprises!

Like Battle Golf, with a four-player split-screen mode Speed Golf could be a fantastic party game — as it stands, it’s a ton of fun for two players in particular, but if you want to play as a group you’ll need to get creative with how you organise things!

Solo Challenge

Mario Golf: Super Rush - Solo Challenge

Potentially the part of the package with the most long-term appeal for the solo player, Mario Golf: Super Rush’s Solo Challenge mode allows you to play either a Score Attack or Time Attack on any of your unlocked courses. Here, you play a full 18-hole round by yourself following either Standard Golf or Speed Golf rules, and your aim is simply to finish with as low a score or time as possible.

Interestingly, this mode omits elements such as the Special Shot-charging collectible coins and stamina-restoring hearts seen in other variants on Speed Golf in the game as a whole, so you’ll need to take particular care with stamina management while playing Time Attack. If you want to really challenge yourself, set a time with a quick character like Peach or Daisy, then see if you can beat it with one of the slower characters — are their more powerful shots enough to make up for their ponderous run speed?

Solo Challenge saves not only your best results for the two modes, but also a range of additional statistics that will help you improve your game. It’s a good means of trying out different characters to understand their various strengths and weaknesses — and there’s no “cheating” by using your fully buffed-up Mii character from Golf Adventure mode in Solo Challenge, either!

Mario Golf: Super Rush - Solo Challenge

Solo Challenge is one of the simplest ways to play Mario Golf: Super Rush, but its emphasis on constantly improving your scores and times gives it potentially limitless replayability. It might have been nice to see the option to do shorter Score Attack and Time Attack sessions rather than being forced to do a full 18 holes — with each length of session having its own ranking and leaderboards, of course — but there’s nothing stopping you doing shorter custom games in the other modes.

There’s plenty to do in Mario Golf: Super Rush, then. And while it may not be a game you’ll want to play every day once you’ve beaten the Golf Adventure mode, there’s enough here to keep things interesting for many solo and group play sessions. And with the prospect of free updates down the line, the future looks bright for this one — here’s hoping the online community takes to it in the long term.

Mario Golf: Super Rush is available now for Nintendo Switch as a physical release or via the eShop.

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Pete Davison
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