Mario Golf: World Tour has arrived on 3DS, and if it's not on your current wishlist you should perhaps reconsider. It takes the basics of golf and smothers them in Super Mario charm, with a careful blend of solid mechanics and typical Mushroom Kingdom zaniness. Whether an inexperienced player or a skilled gamer, it accommodates all abilities with an impressive range of content. We get into it in detail in our Mario Golf: World Tour review.
Considering its subject matter, developer Camelot has done a truly impressive job of producing an in-depth title that is full of minor details to discover. Whether playing for casual fun or with the goal of conquering online tournaments, there's plenty to consider when you boot up for the first time or develop your abilities.
With that in mind this guide aims to introduce you to the important details of how to get the most out of your early World Tour experience. It's not gospel, of course, but these are some strategies and tactics that should give you a good chance of getting off to a strong start.
First things first, get into the Club
When booting up the game for the first time you'll immediately be faced with 'Quick Round' Mario Golf or the 'Play as a Mii' Castle Club; we actually recommend that you start with Toad's Booth, the small option underneath. Accompanying a host of statistics and the DLC menu is a Tutorial, which shows you the basics of how to play in around 5-10 minutes. It's well worth looking through these initially to get a firm grounding in how to play. We've included some tips of our own in the final category of this guide.
Once you've viewed the tutorial pages we suggest diving into the Castle Club; it's the perfect place to learn the game and begin on a path to conquering the career aspect, and you'll have the pleasure of playing as your Mii. As you first step in various Toad characters will grab your attention and talk you through what to do — have a look around the various rooms in the building, initially, to get your bearings and enjoy some quirky conversation with the locals.
Once you're ready to play some rounds head to the big exit at the back; when outside you'll be prompted to start a practice round. Head for the first course (Forest) to complete a mandatory practice round that will also establish your initial handicap. In the early running this reflects your ability, and once you get the handicap to 0 or even a + number you know it's going well. After the practice round is a handicap tournament, then the full championship. Once the championship is won — after your third round if you're on form — you move on to try and complete the hat-trick of tournaments by winning the other two main courses.
Importantly if you want extra training, however, is that there are practice exercises to the right of the main courses. Run past the course entrances to the right until you come to an area with multiple entrances with club logos. Here you can tackle practice exercises at three difficulty levels, covering driving, approach shots and putting, for example. It'll be hard to beat these fully early on, but are perfect for improving your game. If you're feeling ambitious, meanwhile, the far right of this outside area has the one-shot-one-putt challenge of the Sky Island course. Head to the far left and you can tackle unlocked 'Mario World' courses for standard rounds, and special challenges with costume unlocks frequently appear.
When progressing through these challenges you will constantly receive coins and items as rewards. It's vital that you regularly head to the shop, in the main building, to check out this equipment as it changes how you play. Some clubs can alter your Mii from a straight driver to one with natural fade or draw (curving shots, in non-golfing terminology) and some equipment affects the following key stats.
Drive — The standard distance for a full power shot with the driver, serves as a gauge for overall power.
Sweet Spot — The higher this statistic, the more cleanly your Mii will strike the ball.
Control — The higher this statistic, the more forgiving your shots will be when your accuracy is off.
How you balance your Mii is down to personal style. In general the items push you to focus on Drive distance at the expense of the sweet spot and control, or you can opt for a weaker drive but greater control. In our experience it is possible, with the correct unlocks, to build up a decent driving distance and maintain the other two categories at about two thirds of the optimum. The shop, ultimately, will likely be the most visited area of the club.
Conquer the challenges
Whether you clear the career aspect of the Castle Club first or dip into Quick Play, there are certainly plenty of options to keep you busy. Our suggestion, however, is to jump into the Challenges menu in single player. Initially you'll have the three core courses of the castle club, and these challenges take various forms — coin collecting tasks in which you must also make par, ring master challenges when you must pass through each ring and make par, coin collection focussed on coins and not finishing a hole, completing a half round with a specific score, a half round 'Character Match', a Time Attack and a Point Challenge, with the latter adding the club slots feature in which you have limited shot options.
There can be variations on each course, but there are huge benefits to completing these challenges. Primarily, each one that's successfully completed awards a Star Coin, and these unlock the Mario World courses, with seven required for each; in our experience all courses can be unlocked with an average of around four completed challenges per course. Whether playing for a short amount of time or for a longer session, these are the perfect way to gain experience, earn coins and equipment and, most vitally, unlock more courses.
An added bonus is that defeating the Character Match on each course — two in some cases — makes the star version of that mascot available; when selected these star characters have beefed up abilities such as longer drives, potentially a huge advantage when playing others or attempting to set new records: online tournaments do lock out star players in some cases, however. If playing as the Mushroom Kingdom cast is a big part of the appeal, meanwhile, having these superior versions available is very welcome.
Head to the online tournaments
Nintendo and Camelot have a promising and diverse line-up of online tournaments available. Those in the Mario Golf section focus on the Mario World courses and generally have more specific limitations on characters used. In the Castle Club, meanwhile, you head down the stairs in the middle of the main hall — from here you can access regional tournaments that are multiple in number and follow varied rules, while the World Tour tournaments are lower in number and generally require a full round. In addition there are options to establish communities or tournaments of your own, making it easy to play with others.
Like everything else in the game, playing will give you coins and new items to customise, yet it's worth the time to play through the various fixed tournaments on offer. The winners will no doubt be at a very high standard, with significant coin prizes on offer, yet simply taking part will provide you with even more items or clothes sets, and there's no telling how rare some of them may be or whether they're online exclusives. The more items you have the better odds of finding equipment and clothes that have your Mii playing the way you want them to.
Important strategies for winning
Below, in bullet points, are some key points to remember when playing, with these generally focused on the 'Manual' control scheme. These details are also in Toad's Booth tutorial mode.
- Even if your character is a 'straight' hitter, you can draw and fade the ball manually by holding left or right on the Circle Pad while making your shot. Well worth experimentation.
- The same skill also allows you to manage the height of your shot, to a limited degree. Down on the Circle Pad during a shot will cause it to have additional air-time, while pushing up will give the stroke a lower arc.
- Learn the combinations for topspin, super topspin, backspin and super backspin. The key thing to remember is that when you want topspin your third tap — which determines accuracy — should be with the A button, while you use B for backspin. You then tap the same button again for the default spin, or the alternate for the super variation. So, it's A + A (topspin), A then B (super topspin), B + B (backspin), B + A (super backspin).
- If a shot looks impossible or you don't like the suggested lie, cycle through camera angles (X or touch screen button), switch clubs and explore additional shot options (Y) such as limited-use power shots and items. As you develop a play style, you may not always want to simply follow the game's suggested club choice or shot path — especially in par 5 holes, when you may fancy your chances of making the green in two shots.
- Be wary of the game's projected ball path when landing on greens, as it often over-emphasizes the gradient or shows a rare scenario of hitting an exact spot. The ball rarely takes a wacky diversion upon most greens, so back your own judgement and practice — judging the wind improves with repetition, too.
- When putting, the grid on the green shows the slope going left to right or, with a straight line, no slope. A tactic that's served us well is to move the camera along the shot and count the lines. So, if we count five small slope lines to the right between the ball and hole, we adjust five taps on the D-Pad to the left to counteract it. If the slope looks sharper we may, with some grid lines, count two taps per line. Distance is also vital — use X to work through camera angles and look at the indicator (top of the upper screen) that shows distance and when there's a slope up or down. On a flat or uphill putt, adjust your power (shoulder buttons, Y to change the putting power scale) to at least a meter beyond the hole distance, as otherwise putts will often fall short. Exceptions are needed when it's a downward slope, but bold power is often the right way to go; even greater compensation is needed if it's raining.
So those are some initial, basic pointers to help you along in the brilliant Mario Golf: World Tour. If we've missed any key areas or you have queries, hit us up in the comments below and we'll update this guide over the coming days.