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This month in Together Retro we take to the green with Mario and the gang in Mario Golf. The N64 and Game Boy Color classic wasn’t Mario’s first trip to the golf links – he’d already appeared in several golf games on the NES and Famicom – but it manages to incorporate the Mario world in a much bigger way than before.
Developed by Camelot Software Planning, the developer behind Everybody’s Golf for Playstation as well as the Golden Sun and Shining Force series, the game aimed to make a golf experience more appealing and accessible to the average consumer, and helped cement a long legacy of Mario sports titles in years to follow.
Players familiar with old-school golf games shouldn’t have much difficulty getting to grips with Mario Golf – it offers most of the standard features, including power bars, grids for the putting on the green and a variety of clubs to use. It’s easy to get to grips with for new players, but offers some impressive depth for pros, including feature such as topspin, backspin, fade and draw on your shots to make them land exactly where you want.
Besides the more traditional tours, the N64 Mario Golf also offers a variety of side modes, including ring shots and mini golf. You can also challenge new competitors in order to unlock all the games characters – Mario isn’t available from the start here!
The GBC game draws more heavily from Camelot’s RPG experience, and features a story mode in which you must explore the game world, talking to people and levelling up your stats. And playing a bunch of golf, of course. If you own both versions, you can use an N64 Transfer Pak to link them up to unlock extra characters and content.
Mario Golf for the N64 was ported to the Wii Virtual Console in 2008 in Japan and America and 2009 in Europe. It is also playable on the Wii U using the Wii backwards compatibility, although to date the game hasn’t been given a Wii U eShop release. This version unfortunately misses out on the content offered by the Transfer Pak functionality.
The Game Boy Color version of the game was released on 3DS Virtual Console in 2012 in Japan and America and 2014 in PAL regions. It again lacks the Transfer Pak features.
Since the N64 original and it’s GBC sibling, there have been multiple further entries in the series.
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour was released on Gamecube in 2003 and makes more heavy use of the Mario License, with many Mario themed stage obstacles including warp pipes and piranha plants appearing on the fairways. A handheld counterpart, Mario Golf: Advance Tour, was released on Game Boy Advance in 2004 and again features an RPG style story, rendered in the same engine as Golden Sun – right down to the sound effects and emoticon bubbles. Both versions unlock extra content when connected with the GBA-Gamecube link cable.
Mario Golf: World Tour was released for Nintendo 3DS in 2014. Although it is a handheld Mario Golf title, it eschews the RPG stylings of the previous handheld entries and instead plays more like the home console versions. It includes wi-fi play as well as downloadable paid DLC courses.
In addition to Mario Golf, developer Camelot Software Planning are also responsible for the Mario Tennis series of sports games (with the exception of ‘Mario’s Tennis’ for Virtual Boy), which have seen entries on Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Gamecube and 3DS – the same platforms as Mario Golf.
Although not developed by Camelot, Mario has gone on to star in many sports titles since the N64, including Basketball, Football (Soccer for those of you on the other side of the pond), Baseball and more.
In addition to later Mario Golf games, developer Camelot went on to create one other golf game in later years – We Love Golf! for the Nintendo Wii.
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