The best Mario Golf game is… Everybody’s Golf

The best Mario Golf game is… Everybody’s Golf

Hello, I am Benjamin Wagner, this is my blog and today I…clap my hands.
Golf, much like a Sunday Roast, is something that is truly stuck in its time that refuses to develop at any pace. The rigid rules and prohibitive traditions create a sport that many write off before they even give it a try. You may think then that a sport so associated with those who are agely challenged, or old in proper English, that video games depicting the sport would struggle to find their market. But that would be a massive mistake. Although there are excellent golf simulator games out there that try to create the feeling of real-life gold, the amount of cartoony, more unique experiences probably outnumber them. The casual golf game market, and casual sports game market in general, is surprisingly large and I for one, am a huge fan.

Back when I was a dirty young teenager, pretending to do my homework while sat on the family computer in the corner of the living room, I discovered the world of video game emulation and played around with various consoles. My favourite to play around with was the Gameboy Advance and if I wasn’t using cheat codes on Pokémon Emerald, I was playing Mario Golf or Mario Tennis. The infusion of solid and fun golf mechanics with an enjoyable small world RPG was such a fresh experience compared to the fun yet repetitive sports simulators like FIFA I had grown up playing. I have played each game since this time and no experience has ever reached the level of the GBA outing for me but upon hearing about the release of a new game on the Switch; I was excited. Then… I played it. And it was the most disappointing game I have played this year; with the RPG mechanics feeling watered down and the golfing mechanics reduced to shadows of their former selves. And I was very disappointed. But then, on a random PS Store sale, I discovered Everybody’s Golf. I was familiar with the series in name but as a Nintendo kid and a primarily handheld gamer, I had never dipped in before. And I wish I had. Because this is the Mario Golf game, I have been waiting for all these years. Find out why as I review Everybody’s Golf on the PS4.

Everybody’s Golf for the PS4 is the best Mario Golf game I have played. Compared to the dull and disastrous mess that was Mario Golf: Super Rush on the Nintendo Switch, this title from 2016 does almost everything right. To illustrate this, I will consistently compare and reference the Switch game throughout this review. I didn’t want to do this, simply because it means I have to play Super Rush back into my Switch to refresh my memory, but I need to show those who have been deceived by Nintendo’s shady curtain that cartoony golf games can actually be fun. So, without further ado, the advantages that Everybody’s Golf holds is…

Advantage 1: Incredible customisation options
This may seem like a weak leg to start off on but let me justify this. As a man who could not care less about skins and most modern customisation options, I can’t tell you how impressive the options are in this release. You can create a monstrous anime monster or a petite girly child, whilst mixing and matching everything in between. These options are all very… Japanese and this does lead to almost endless opportunities for comedy. For example, I created a buff manly figure with the animations of a child and the deepest voice I could find. Seeing a large middle-aged man traipsing around the home area, Naruto running and springing up into the air like a spring lamb is funny and this is the sort of silly fun that can get younger people and non-golf fans invested in a game and a sport they had previously overlooked. Speaking about something that has been overlooked…

Advantage 2: Gameplay that allows for player mistakes
This is Mario Golf’s biggest failing and Everybody’s Golf’s greatest strength. The classic Mario Golf games all used a three-button press system. One to start your swing, one to set your power and then one more to set your accuracy. Its simplicity obscures the depth that this system offers; with extra button presses being available for applying spin to your shot and the ease of hitting the ball, in terms of accuracy, depends on the club, weather conditions and the lie of your ball. This has been the industry standard for as long as I remember, and the Mario Golf series was the one that brought this system in and made it so. So, can somebody please explain to me why they changed it. Not by much yet the change they made have lowered the skill ceiling so much that it is impossible to stand in the room known as Mario Golf Super Rush. They made the third press, the accuracy press, the press that gave the game depth, automated. This means accuracy is completely and utterly random. This has been a thing in previous games in the series and is also an option in Everybody’s Golf but that’s the thing. It’s an option. It isn’t forced onto you. You can play like an adult if you want to. Mario Golf Super Rush refuses to allow the player this freedom and it leaves every hole to feel devoid of character and fun. There is no real variation in what you can achieve because all of the shots will be struck within the now completely redundant accuracy bar. This makes a fairly average Mario Golf game into one that I never actually want to play again. On the other hand, it makes the way that Everybody’s Golf deals with this even more appreciated. Not only do you get variation down to player skill on the button press, but different clubs also vary the size of the accuracy bar and how easy or difficult it is to pull shots off. Clubs that specialise in spin and fading the ball. Clubs that are more powerful, but the accuracy bar is much smaller. Or the opposite. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the putting. The putting in Everybody’s Golf is tricky but fun to master. In Mario Golf Super Rush, the putting is completely broken and is 100% exploitable. And I use 100% whimsically because if you aim directly at the hole, pick the highest power putter, and completely lash it, the ball, more times than not, is sucked into the hole like it is a vacuum. This makes an already easy game much easier and much shallower than it even appeared to start with.

Everybody’s Golf fits its eponymous mould and truly does cater for everyone. Mario Golf Super Rush is stuck on a tricycle, and Everybody’s Golf is on a Shimano Specialised S-Works Aethos Dura-Ace Di2 Disc Road Bike. Mario Golf a sippy cup and Everybody’s Golf a pint glass filled to the brim with Guinness. Everybody’s Golf is simply better. And to back this up once more, we move onto the third area of advantage…

Advantage 3: Course design that is interesting and fair
 The course design in Everybody’s Golf is a beautiful, evolving beast; with each new unlock adding something new to challenge you and entertain you. The game starts off slow with only one course available and that course being a perfect introduction to the game; not overly challenging but enough to build your confidence up as you play through. The Eagle City GC is a very, very good introduction to this good game. Course 2, Alpina Forest isn’t a massive ramp-up in difficulty but adds in some more obstacles and ramps up the putting difficulty a little. Course 3 is Kanaloa Beach, and this brings it up a little more, adding some visual variation in terms of moving from plains and forests to a Hawaiian charm of water and sand. The course is a little more challenging once again and shows a nice steady difficulty curve that invites players to have fun whilst educating them about golf and improving them as they go. The fourth course is where the challenge truly begins. Vortex Valley adds much more height to the course design and this verticality really does add some challenge in how you approach your shots. To go on a tangent briefly, Mario Golf Super Rush brings in Ridgerock Lake and also introduces Cross-Country Golf, a mode where golf becomes non-linear, and this is problematic due to the verticality and the massive difficulty spike compared to the first course of the game. The steady difficulty curve of Everybody’s Golf, makes it inviting whereas Mario Golf puts its hardest non-DLC course in the game just after the easiest. This is one of the most baffling decisions the game makes because played normally, Ridgerock Lake isn’t the most difficult course yet the addition of a new, poorly thought-out mode drains any fun away. Vortex Valley doesn’t do this and really shows how thoughtful course and game design can improve a golf game. The course is difficult but it rewards patience and punishes greed. That is superb design. The final non-DLC course in Everybody’s Golf is

Advantage 4: Charm
This game is flooded with charm. Be it silly animations or funny, slightly wonky dialogue, this game is as charming as a man with slicked-back black hair in a full tuxedo flipping a silver coin. However, this section is less about how charming Everybody’s Golf is and more about how Nintendo has squandered the charm of a series literally constructed around a cartoon plumber. Mario is a character that has tried so many different genres and always brings some characteristic Nintendo charm along with him that makes the game appeal to a bigger audience than fans of RPG’s, sports, and dancing games. Why then, does Mario Golf Super Rush lack a lot of this Mario charm. Everybody’s Golf chose to use grounded course themes and instead adds charm through character animations and the golfers whipping around the course like they have been injected with adrenaline. Mario has a whole universe of weird and wonderful places to pull from and have done in previous games such as the excellent 3DS outing so why do all the courses feel so bland in this newer game on more powerful hardware. A couple of the DLC courses have added a little more variety but at this point, isn’t it a little too late. You have already lost about 60% of the people who were initially interested in the game yet were put off by the lifeless golf courses. I’m now going to backtrack to the animations once again and zoom in on Mario Golf’s latest failing. In the 3DS game, there were different animations for each player for Holes in One, Eagle’s, Birdies, Pars, Bogey’s and worse than that. Super Rush on the Switch simply has 3 animations: one par, one for under par, one for over par. This is half the animation work. But you could argue that work has gone into adding charm to the game’s main gimmick, the titular Super Rushing. Well, in this mode the character runs around the course, something seemingly adapted from Everybody’s Golf original idea, with each character having a special move. However, these… aren’t really unique and some characters share special moves. The animations get a palette swap but haven’t been re-done. In the 3DS game, the characters had so much more charm. And this was true in the RPG-style campaign in that game as well. To give the Switch game credit, the RPG campaign does exist and the first 15 minutes, is nice. It’s charming and sets a nice Mario atmosphere. It’s when you continue to play and peek under the curtain that you discover the utterly bland dialogue, disappointing character variation and completely irritating sound snippets that quickly turn the mode into a slog. Speaking of sound and music, we move on to one of the biggest advantages. That being…

Advantage 5: Sound design

As a musical heathen, I oft find it difficult to appreciate the tunes that proliferate video games, but Everybody’s Golf shoots a birdie here as well.

I’m single ladies 😉.

Everybody’s Golf begins with an opening song, like any good anime-style game, and this song is sung by Owl City. It is excellent and each time I load up the game, I find myself waiting on the menu for a minute, just to watch the opening movie and hear the catchy tune just one more time. With respect to Mario Golf Super Rush, its opening cinematic is something that it does actually get right, so much so that my little brother called it the highlight of the whole game. It perfectly portrays what a good Mario Golf game should have in terms of charm and in terms of perfectly executed music and sound. I call this an advantage due to my love of the opening song, but across the board, both games manage to create a nice atmosphere on whichever course you end up on, but due to the whole package being more polished, I lean towards the PS4 title simply as the effect is larger and the tracks feel more cohesive as whole. Also, the voice clips that you can attribute to your characters add some more Japanese charm with their wonkiness and just tip us over the edge.
 I am a big advocate of the theory that if you struggle to notice a soundtrack, that isn’t saying the soundtrack is bad, it just says it isn’t a masterpiece. It also isn’t a disaster. Often when I notice game music, it is because it is dreadful. Happily on this occasion, both games manage to shoot a winning round here with Everybody’s Golf winning in the tie-break.

Okay, I’ll stop now 😉

So, with both games on similar levels here, it moves us onto the next point. Being…

Advantage 6: Multiplayer integration
And the stalemate didn’t last long as Super Rush once again falls behind its more experienced contemporary. Mario sports games rely on a fun multiplayer experience to engage the audience for longer than the often-disappointing single-player offerings. Super Rush implements online play into the game and the results are as mixed as you would expect. The game often lags, which when playing standard stroke play is forgivable. However, when playing the titular Super Rushing speed golf mode, where you run along the golf course after your ball, combatting your opponents in a Mario Kart style powerup menagerie, this becomes almost game-breaking. The runs I have had online are playable but have not once been fun. The offline multiplayer options are much the same despite the baffling decision to limit the Speed golf mode to just two players split-screen. The supposed fun of this mode is the chaos that can ensue whilst retrieving your ball. Let me tell you, there is no chaos when there are just two of you and it just descends into standard stroke play with some odd marathon sections stuck in. My problem is that the ideas were clearly there, but they were implemented so half-arsedly that the game just feels rushed, unfinished and unloved. I certainly don’t love the multiplayer here. So, let’s hand it over to Everybody’s Golf to show Camelot how it should be done.

Everybody’s Golf is an absolutely amazing multiplayer game. Split-screen is a delight thanks to the course design and the game actually being fun, to begin with, but setting up and playing is also easy, intuitive, and very customisable.
The online is just as good, with the ability to compete on daily leaderboards for prizes as well as exploring the golf courses as a group and generally just having a chilled, relaxed, good time. Everybody’s Golf wants you to stick around and enjoy yourself. Mario Golf just wants you to rush to the final hole like a hungry lemur. There is one more notch on the Everybody’s Golf bedpost to come.
However, this primary reason why the multiplayer is so good is reliant on my final advantage. That being…

Advantage 7: Gameplay variety (Fishing, Golfcart, Different golf modes)
Everybody’s Golf has edged some of the holes on this storied course but on the final hole, it has decimated the competition. In terms of gameplay variety, Everybody’s Golf is by far the most diverse cartoony, anime-style golf game I have ever played. Firstly, you don’t just have to golf, there is a fairly deep fishing mini-game along with a golf cart you can use to whip around the courses at your leisure. This is fun and adds some additional whimsy to the golf mechanics to help causal fans acclimatise. But this is not where they end, oh no. They do the unthinkable. They change golf. By simply changing the size of the hole and varying tee lengths, they add something great. Then, they go further adding holes that suck the ball into them, making chip-ins from outrageous lengths possible. The addition of mirror modes for the courses further adds depth to something that is already deeper than my mental problems. This makes a game that is almost eternally re-playable.
So, you may be asking yourself, what does Mario Golf Super Rush bring? Well, it brings battle golf… Which is two courses, which are so similar they are essentially one course that lacks depth. Seriously, this mode is an exceptional idea on paper; fighting other golfers whilst trying to finish your round first. It’s even featured in the exceptional opening movie. It’s a shame then that this mode is dull and fairly linear. Once you’ve played it once, nothing you experience after this adds anything. I didn’t really have any fun doing it multiplayer either; with me and my brother being very disappointed and bored after around 5 minutes.
So, the main gimmick of the game. Speed Golf. This is more mixed. I don’t hate the mode and, for the first hour of the story mode, this was reasonably fun. The problem is playing it past this point. It…it lacks depth. This seems to be a recurring problem with this title as playing it casually for a few minutes is a pleasant if slightly underwhelming experience but trying to play it for anything more will undoubtedly lead to more disappointment. By the time I had finished the story mode, a mode which almost completely involves just repeatedly playing Speed Golf on each course for the entire campaign which just becomes dull and takes any enjoyment that the mode did have to begin with being drained fully.
I have mentioned the story mode a few times now and this was the thing I was most excited about. The GBA games had a strong story mode and were the main reason I love the game as much as I do. Everybody’s Golf’s story mode is a fun experience but even that doesn’t come close to the enjoyable RPG Camelot crafted 20 years ago. Their latest effort is truly disastrous and sours the whole game almost as much as the lacklustre gameplay does. The dialogue is tedious. The traversal feels slow and pointless. There is little to discover in the world and where you do travel, the layouts and environments are generic and bland to discover. This is Mario. If you can’t create an interesting world, you have made a dreadful mistake. Everybody’s Golf main single-player mode is far superior, taking a tournament format that suits the style of game they were aiming for; a recreation golfing island paradise where people come for fun. The rookie to champion narrative of the Super Rush game is cliché and not only that but poorly executed and lacking character.
Mario Golf Super Rush lacks character. Everybody’s Golf is character. Mario Golf Super Rush lacks depth. Everybody’s Golf is depth.

Everybody’s Golf is arguably the most polished and enjoyable golf game of all time; adding charm, whimsy, and fun to a much-maligned sport that I already actually quite enjoy. However, despite Everybody’s Golf numerous successes even it is not the perfect Mario Golf game. There are a couple of areas in which it stumbles, and I will now proceed to bitch and whine about them for a little while.

Disadvantage 1: Very slow progression, slow club upgrading (Percentage of players unlocking course 2)
As you can probably tell by the number of good things, I have said about Everybody’s Golf, I am a fan. You can probably also tell that I was already a fan of this sort of game before starting this one up. And this brings me to this point; the progression in Everybody’s Golf is molasses-like in its pacing. This game is damn slow; adopting a laboured, dawdling pace that will very much turn players off in the early game. The amount of time the game expects you to play the first course, again and again, is almost laughable and really creates a game that, whilst trying to be accessible, inexplicably creates a large barrier to entry. And I will back this up with maths. The amount of people who have achieved the trophy for reaching rank 3, the point in the game where you unlock the 2nd course, after almost 5 hours of golf, is only 38.6%. Just under two-thirds of people who played this game didn’t experience any more than the introductory course. This is a crying shame and is a large black mark against over tutorialising and babying players instead of making these tutorials more customisable to each player. I could tell from moment one that there was enough here to keep me going but this game clearly didn’t do enough to encourage other people that there was something worth finding in this parade of hand-holdy introductions and tediously long tournaments to persevere. Worst of all, you don’t unlock courses for multiplayer use until they are unlocked in the single-player campaign. This means that players who want to experience the game at its multiplayer best, have to slog through the 20-hour campaign to reach it. I’m a single-player and I have no problem with this but if I gave Mario Golf crap because of its 5–6-hour long campaign, this game deserves it triply so. Mario Golf encourages the newbies to come and play around before letting them go online and 5-hour time investment is probably acceptable. 20 hours is far too long to expect a player to play just to unlock enough stuff to play with your friends. They also incorporate an odd mechanic in which the different golf clubs become stronger the more you use them which actually affects the multiplayer experience. This is because the amount you play will impact your strength on the course. This isn’t a dealbreaker, but it does irk me a little that a game that is so good creates barriers to entry and games the system against new players. And for a game that tries so hard to be accessible, this is baffling and off-putting. And talking about off-putting, we move on to the other disappointment. Which is…

Disadvantage 2: Doesn’t do enough to bring in non-golf fans. Add even more whimsy (Yakuza style)Everybody’s Golf is far more varied and fun than Mario Golf Super Rush. However, I do feel that Everybody’s Golf possibly doesn’t go far enough to bring in non-golfing fans. The addition of fishing and driving is nice, yet it does leave you wanting more. Maybe include racetracks for some golf cart racing or some more minigames in the vain of Yakuza to add more than just golf. Or they could even double down on what they do have and make the story element more pronounced; making a fully-fledged golfing RPG that I have dreamed of for almost a decade now. It’s not just the single-player mode that could benefit from this, as the multiplayer could be a little deeper and varied. This may sound trite and conceited but the idea of a battle royale 50 player or 100 player golf match, with everyone rushing around the course to achieve the best score in the fastest time add to both the audience and the commitment that players would have with the game. Of course, this is far more of a gripe than a legitimate complaint and the reason is twofold. One, I love this game and I am fairly committed to playing this for a few years to come. Second, I didn’t want to just have one complaint, so I instead simply wanted an area to list my hopes for the next game in the series; if there is one, and I damn hope there is. So, after this tangent, Everybody’s Golf could do more but what it has, is still pretty good.

So after one disappointment and one-off subject moan, we arrive at the crux of the matter: cartoony golf should appeal to the masses. Mario Golf does this but has very little content under the shiny presentation. Everybody’s Golf risks turning away the more casual fan with an odd content wall yet has so much fun content hidden inside its shell, that makes it a game that is constantly fun and consistently impressive. Mario Golf Super Rush feels like nothing more than a Nintendo gap-fill; abandoning the deep and complex three-button gameplay style that they innovated for one that takes away the player’s agency and drains the fun out of you. Everybody’s Golf is a further polishing of the industry-standard gameplay style that makes a game that feels familiar yet fresh. Easy to use yet hard to perfect. This fight is like comparing a curry to a salad; the salad may look nicer, fresher, and newer yet there is no real substance there; with the number of people likely to be satisfied by this flimsy, floppy affair. The curry is something you know, something you already like, but it’s a good one. It’s a really good curry. And that just makes you feel happy.

And with me now feeling hungry, it’s time to score this thing and drive this ball onto the green. And, I have to say, this game is remarkably fun. In everything it tries to do, it is almost perfect, with just a couple of baffling missteps stopping this game from reaching true greatness. That means this game goes… right here. Just under legendary fun. Doesn’t quite make the threshold for this tier but just bubbles beneath it or twirls around the hole before falling agonisingly short. Everybody’s Golf is very fun.


Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed it, tell me how great I am in the comments below. I am Benjamin Wagner and I endorse this message.

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