Mario Golf: Super Rush doesn’t feel like a game made by people who are passionate about Mario or golf. For a game titled “Mario Golf,” that presents a bit of a problem. Still, the development team at Camelot managed to pack Mario Golf: Super Rush with great ideas that don’t seem to recognize how great they are. They’re fleshed out like an artist’s pencil sketch, but those core ideas are good enough to occasionally shine through the distressing lack of content, polish, and charm that make this a disappointing entry in the Mario Golf series.
Game Name: Mario Golf: Super Rush
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Camelot Software Planning
Release Date: June 25, 2021
Super Rush is the second Mario sports title released on Switch, and although Mario has traded his tennis racket for a golf club, the game follows Mario Tennis Aces’ (2018) footsteps by combining a sports game with another genre to create chaotic fun. Where Tennis Aces combined fighting game mechanics with arcade tennis, Mario Golf: Super Rush’s main draw, Speed Golf, combines simple golf mechanics with light racing elements. Traditional stroke play, Battle Golf, and a four-to-five hour story mode round out the base package.
At the heart of all of these modes are enjoyable, yet imperfect, shot mechanics that challenge the player’s decision-making skills instead of their dexterity. In Mario Golf: Super Rush, a press of the A button starts a swing, and a second press sets its power. The accuracy of a shot is determined by RNG, and the chances of hitting an inaccurate shot increase based on how hard you swing and the type of terrain you’re shooting from. This deviation from previous Mario Golf titles, where accuracy was determined by a third button press, makes Super Rush play like a more passive, mental game. Chipping in for Eagle often feels more like successfully solving for “x” in an algebraic equation than accomplishing an athletic feat, but it’s satisfying nonetheless.
This system still allows for creative shot-making. After setting the power, players have a moment to apply spin to the ball, affecting its midair flight. Some of the most exciting moments in Super Rush come from blasting a ball 220 yards, just barely curling it around an obstacle, and having it roll up right next to the hole. It’s easy to forget that good luck factored into your success when you tap in for birdie.
Super Rush is at its best when it picks up the pace in the Speed Golf mode. Speed Golf puts all players on the tee box simultaneously and has everyone hit at once. As soon as the swing animation finishes, players tear up the fairways on foot, chasing after the ball in an effort to finish the hole first.
Speed Golf features two styles of play: High Score and Best Time. Of these two, High Score is the more satisfying experience. While Best Time ignores strokes and focuses purely on how long it takes to finish a hole, High Score factors in both speed and accuracy. Players are assessed a 30-second penalty for each stroke, which forces rapid decisions without sacrificing the quality of shots. Quickly lining up an approach shot, deciding at the last possible second to apply backspin, dashing to the ball, and seeing “Green, 5.6 feet” appear on your screen while competitors’ shots fall into roughs and bunkers brings out the best in Super Rush’s core mechanics.
Unfortunately, the dashing phase suffers from the same balancing issues that plagued Mario Tennis Aces’ early days. Every character has unique run speeds and special dashes used to burst up the fairway and damage opponents. Not all stats are created equally, however, and characters like Bowser can make up for slow run speeds with special dashes that are so much better than the competition that they almost guarantee a victory. Bowser can mash a special dash out of the gate, gobble up the first stamina heart, and leave the competition gasping for air 100 yards behind him. The only way for characters with weak dashes, like Mario and Luigi, to keep up is to hit short drives to get out of the box first, making scoring birdies considerably more difficult.
The mediocre courses don’t do the dashing phase any favors either. They’re all fun enough, but none of them scream Mario. There are no warp pipes to aim for that spit your ball out on the green, no mushrooms to bounce off, and only one character-themed course. Even the characters feel like they’re just going through the motions. The only time they get to show some personality is when they’re using their special dashes or special shots.
Special shots are one of the more successful mechanics in Super Rush, adding distance to the user’s shot while messing with opponents. Luigi, for example, uses an Ice Flower to freeze the green, which makes it harder to putt. King Bob-omb launches himself and six bob-ombs at a target, launching any balls in the area away. These shots seem to be best used for messing with players on the greens, but deciding when to use them adds a much-needed layer of strategy to the proceedings.
When Speed Golf functions as intended, it offers plenty of fun and is the strongest mode in Super Rush, though Battle Golf serves as a passable side dish to the main entrée. In Battle Golf, players are in a stadium and compete to finish three holes first, with each hole disappearing after someone finishes it. Bob-ombs are scattered across the course, and they can be launched at opposing players to interrupt their shot and knock their ball away. These games rarely last more than a couple of minutes, but that quick pace adds to the intensity. When two players are shooting at the same hole with victory on the line, the ideas behind Battle Golf shine.
Once you’ve played a few rounds of Battle Golf, however, it will rarely surprise you. The thrill of nailing an opponent putting for the win with a bob-omb wears out quickly, and with only two courses, there’s not much diversity between rounds. A few Thwomps and Whomps impact certain shots on each course, but more variety would have elevated this mode. A stadium located in DK Jungle, for example, could have added diversity to each round. Instead, Camelot did the minimum required to make a competent mode. Battle Golf should be more fun than it is, and the developer’s failure to recognize the idea’s potential makes it best enjoyed as a change of pace from Speed Golf.
“Unrealized potential” could be Mario Golf: Super Rush’s motto and Golf Adventure reflects that more than any other mode. Its five levels each feature interesting ideas that are either poorly executed or underdeveloped. The first stage serves as a basic introduction to the game’s mechanics, but the second level introduces XC golf – a variation of Speed Golf where players have a limited number of shots to clear three holes, teeing off from the green on the hole they just finished.
XC golf challenges players to map the optimal route through nine holes, testing their mastery of the game’s mechanics. In theory, it should allow for big multiplayer fun. Instead, the idea is dropped altogether as soon as the challenge is cleared, and there is no way to experience the mode with friends.
The following level features a desert course where players need to complete a round without running out of water. The idea works in concept, but these holes play like any other round of speed golf in practice. There’s no water to pick up as you sprint across the course and no strategy to implement along the way. A few simple adjustments could have made the chapter stand out. Instead, it joins XC golf as one of Super Rush’s many “what ifs.”
Golf Adventure introduces a few similarly under baked and poorly executed concepts before suddenly concluding around the five-hour mark, but, to its credit, the final challenge serves as an excellent climax. It may not be worth pressing through the frustrating and uninspired four-hour story leading up to it, but those who do will be rewarded with an enjoyable finale.
Given Mario Golf: Super Rush’s lack of tournaments and side modes, replaying courses by yourself or with friends is all that’s left to do once the credits roll in Golf Adventure. While local multiplayer works well enough, flaws in the online infrastructure limit the fun of playing with strangers. Camelot did an admirable job allowing players to customize rulesets to their liking (I gravitated towards Speed Golf, Six Holes, No Mii Characters, Everyone Tees off at the Same Time,) but the game does nothing to punish players with poor etiquette or weak internet connection.
About 80 percent of my rounds ended in disconnects, either because someone had a weak connection or rage quit after falling behind. In four-player games, if one person disconnects, the whole game gets shut down. More frustrating are the players who fall behind and stop hitting their ball, instead choosing to run around the course just to hold everyone else up. While poor player behavior can’t be thrown entirely at Camelot, the team should have anticipated this and created some punitive action to dissuade it.
Playing with friends who have a reliable connection, on the other hand, works surprisingly well. Character balance issues aside, there’s fun to be had in Mario Golf: Super Rush with a few friends. The game’s solid swing mechanics and fast-paced gameplay reveal themselves under these perfect conditions, and they offer a glimpse of a better title.
Mario Golf: Super Rush is a frustrating game from a frustrating developer. Camelot seems to have learned nothing from Mario Tennis Aces’ poor launch, and with future updates promised, it seems they aim to fix Super Rush’s flaws through content updates. Make no mistake – Mario Tennis Aces is a better title than Mario Golf: Super Rush, but perhaps Super Rush will follow in its footsteps once again and turn into a better game in a couple of months. For now, this is a title with great ideas that are held back by amateurish development choices.
Mario Golf: Super Rush Three Putts for Bogey
Mario Golf: Super Rush introduces several great ideas, but it never invests in them. The result is a title far less than the sum of its parts. While there’s certainly some fun to be had playing with friends, Super Rush should be a better game than it is.
- Solid Swing Mechanics
- Speed and Battle Golf are Great Ideas
- Enjoyable Multiplayer with Friends
- Disappointing Story Mode
- Terrible Online Multiplayer
- Courses Lack Creativity
- Good Ideas Go Unexplored
- Character Balancing Issues