(GBC / Game Boy Color)

Mario Golf (GBC / Game Boy Color)

Game Review

Mario Golf Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

A beautiful day on the links

Released in 1999 to dovetail with the N64 game of the same name, the Game Boy Color version of Mario Golf is more than just a scaled-back, portable edition. In fact, it stands well enough on its own merits, and it's almost unfortunate that it shares a name with its console counterpart; it really does have an identity all its own.

Of course, we already have two Nintendo-developed golf games on the 3DS Virtual Console: there's the very good NES Open Tournament Golf, and the easily overlooked Game Boy game Golf. It's fair to say that no gamer needs all three of these, but it's always nice to have another option...particularly when that other option is as good as Mario Golf.

It's worth reading our review of NES Open Tournament Golf, because Mario Golf controls pretty much identically. Lining up your shots, swinging, putting...it all feels quite similar. What really feels unique is the presentation.

While NES Open Tournament Golf looked and sounded just fine for what it was, Mario Golf is just gorgeous. The art is colourful and fun, and a Mushroom Kingdom flair is brought far more to the fore. From small celebratory graphics to an adorable Shy Guy blowing across the course in high winds, Mario Golf makes a lot of its references to other games, without ever overshadowing the sturdy and basic sporting experience at its core.

In fact, if you choose to play as Mario or Luigi, you'll find the experience to pretty much be a prettier version of that NES game: you'll only be able to play through a course, or practice individual holes. Create your own character, though, and you'll find a whole world of new material, with a charming RPG-style approach.

It's this mode that really gives Mario Golf its identity. You'll be able to interact with NPCs, practice with them, challenge them, learn from them, get advice from them, play mini-games with them, and eventually establish yourself as their golf-club wielding savior. The story, as it is, sees you putting a no-name clubhouse on the map by gradually defeating the champs at rival golf courses. It's not a strictly necessary addition to an otherwise straightforward game of golf, but it's winningly fun and a welcome feature.

It also means that Mario Golf provides an easier learning curve than NES Open Tournament Golf. Here you can work with NPCs to develop your skills, and essentially engage in scattered, one-on-one tutorials. It's a nice touch, and margin for error when swinging has also been increased, meaning it's easier to keep your shots on course. Additionally, by playing games you will increase your experience points, and be able to upgrade your skills. Golf purists will want to play as Mario or Luigi to get away from all this dazzle, but everybody else will likely find a lot to enjoy here.

Unfortunately the game still does feel a bit limited. While that's not a complaint, it is worth mentioning that for as much as the RPG elements seem to add, it's really just unnecessary map walking instead of selecting options from a menu. It's certainly a unique feeling to be exploring a lovely, colourful world in a retro golf game, but at the same time the characters you'll meet aren't particularly interesting or funny, making them feel more like hint devices or mini-game triggers than individuals. A bit more in the way of an evolving storyline, or characters whose goals and advice evolved as the game progressed, or even something as simple as a shop to visit, would have made this a stronger experience. It would also have been nice to play Tournaments and Match Games as Mario or Luigi, just to add a bit more variety to their experiences, but that's hardly a major issue.

The biggest problem is that the game's two-player mode has been disabled. While this isn't exactly a new complaint when it comes to the 3DS Virtual Console, it's worth mentioning that the two-player mode in NES Open Tournament Golf is intact...so for gamers who wish to challenge their friends, that's likely to make their decision for them. It's also not surprising that the game's character transfer feature between this and the Nintendo 64 version is missing as well, but it's worth pointing out.

Regardless, though, this is classic Nintendo golfing action, and it manages to provide a unique approach to the game without losing sight of the core experience. How much the new features (or missing two-player mode) matter is a question of personal preference, but either way Mario Golf is a welcome addition to the eShop library.


The GBC version of Mario Golf is a lovely, fun little game to have on the go. It's all down to personal preference whether this is a step forward or a step back from NES Open Tournament Golf, but there's little to complain about here. The RPG elements are wisely optional, which means that they're here for anyone who might enjoy them, and can be totally absent from the experience for those who find it a distraction. Mario Golf provides a solid golfing experience with a stellar presentation, and should be worth a download for fans who don't already have an alternative on their 3DS.

From the web

User Comments (53)



ice30 said:

This game is alot better then NES Open Tournament Golf. I remember when this came out to gbc best golf game on a handheld.



sinalefa said:

When Chicken reviews a good game, it feels like a different reviewer altogether. It seems like a strange case of Dr. Philip and Mr. Brutus.



grumblegrumble said:

I love this game, but I still can't quite figure out how to putt right. On the first hole (practice hole) it took me 17 shots to get the ball in. LOL. I know that's abnormal, but can someone provide a clear understanding of how to swing your club? I read the manual, tried that, didn't work. I'm loving the look and feel of this game, though. Great review!



WarioPower said:

I love this game! I first played it years ago on my gameboy color, now I'm giving it another go!



ajcismo said:

Totally enjoyed it thus far, got my golfer up to level 20 over the weekend. It gets a solid 8/10 from me.



Kid_A said:

I gotta say, this is perhaps the best golf game I've ever played. From its charm to its reliable mechanics to its amazing soundtrack, it doesn't get much better than this, for me at least. Some people may prefer realism, but I prefer cute-as-heck graphics and cartoonish charm



HandheldGuru97 said:

I have this on my Gameboy (damnit Nintendo stop releasing games after I buy physically) and this is probably one of my favorite Gameboy Color Games next to Pokemon Yellow a 9/10 in my book.



Knux said:

Great review! I can't wait to download and play this for the first time hopefully during this Sunday!



TheDreamingHawk said:

Amazing game, right here. Way better than that stupid NES and GB golf games. I CAN'T EVEN HIT THE FREAKING BALL MORE THAN 50 YD.



Lobster said:

I loved this game back in the day and even know exactly where my cartridge and Gameboy Color are, so I can play it that way if I want. For the life of me I don't remember the RPG bits at all, though! I played the heck out of this game, too. Strange.



grumblegrumble said:

@TheDreamingHawk I just got a very cool instruction on how to do this. Check out the Mario Golf thread in the 3DS VC forums.. It's quite easy once you get the hang of it! I wish the instruction manual was that easy to understand (haha.) Now I'm getting hole in ones and hitting par! Good luck..



sc100 said:

This game definitely has its own identity as compared to the N64 version and I find that the RPG elements add a lot, especially being able to level up and develop your player over time. I played the heck out of the N64 Mario Golf, both when it was originally released and when it came to VC, and I was always interested in how good the GBC version was, especially since some said it was better than the N64 version. I'm happy to find that it still has the same great golf action even though it doesn't have the beautiful 3D courses of the N64 game. Hopefully we'll get the GBA version at some point.



DarkEdi said:

No transfer options between 3ds and Wii, then no money for Nintendo, so easy.




The ONLY thing I find disappointing with a game like Mario Golf from the GAME BOY COLOR is not being able to transfer the data from this game to the Mario Golf from N64 on Wii. All in all, for a game I never played before back in the day like this, but only Mario Golf: Advance Tour on the GBA. I go as far to giving this gem a 8.5 out of 10. Truly am enjoying this game the more I play it.



Spoony_Tech said:

Its a very good golf game and I loved it back in the day. However ill wait for a free club nintendo download with coins as I don't need to get into this right now.



RetrogamerFan said:

Looking forward to this being released in Europe, even though i've already got Golf (GB cart and GB VC) and NES Open Golf (NES cart & ambassador).



Froggievilleus said:

I would have given it a 9/10 myself. It's a great game. And using the save states is the best. I've really improved my game by saving before each hole during a tournament, just in case I mess up. Beautiful.

Now Camelot and Nintendo need to come out with Mario Golf 3DS, and it needs to have the RPG-esuqe flavour.



StarBoy91 said:

I like Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color, though I've always preferred GBC Mario Tennis since I was little; they're still both good games.



Whopper744 said:

Good review. Something I will never understand is why they take away features such as mutliplayer and the connection with the 64 version (could do it with the VC version on the Wii). It's 2012.



Kid_A said:


I'd be nice, but I'm going to go ahead and assume
it's a lot trickier than pushing a couple buttons. I'd rather Nintendo concentrate on bringing us new stuff than meticulously updating old stuff.



Hokori said:

@DarkEdi So it doesn't have that option? Ok thanks I've been wondering about that ever since it was announced for Japanese eShops



DarkEdi said:

Thanks. I will skip this download, i hope they fix it and do possible the connection between Mario Golf Wii and 3DS. Then i could think to download both games.



Capt_N said:

I have both Mario Golf/Tennis N64/GBC carts/sets(-of-games), so I have a (legal) method to play these. Besides, the transfer character, & multiplayer options being removed, greatly decrease anything inside me, pointing to d/ling this, or it's counterpart on Wii VC.



SCAR said:

Has anyone noticed that on the description, it says displays 3D visuals?



Hokori said:

Just downloaded and this game doesn't hate me like NES open, Mario Golf 64, and Kirby Dream Course



2Sang said:

I remember this game when I was a kid, it's one of the only games on the 3DS Virtual console that I actually owned as a kid. The only other ones pre-GBA I think I owned on the VC right now were Tennis and Kid Icarus OM&M.



GreenDream said:

I loved this game when it first came out. I played through it 2 times from start to finish~

Building up your character for Mario Golf 64 using the N64 Transfer Pak was also fun! It was very challenging to try to play with a new character, and your character didn't even feel like their journey was finished after completing the GBC story mode! They could go on to grow throughout playing through the N64 title. They would improve along with the player! Definitely an unexpectedly good use of RPG elements, overall!

Without multiplayer and the N64 transfer, 7/10 sounds about right. With them, it's 8/10 or 9/10.



MarioKenny1992 said:

I might download the game sometime, though I don't care about sports games. Mario sports games are the only ones I like though



Sun said:

I played this game as a child! It was really deep at that moment.



SethNintendo said:

I loved this game. I even had the N64 transfer pack to move my character to the N64 version. Can't wait till Mario Golf 3DS! I love my Mario Golf (not too big of real golf though).



XCWarrior said:

Considering this game is now free with Club Nintendo points, maybe someone can answer this question.

How many courses are in the game? Although I feel like I'm picking this up either way. I love NES Open Tournament. This adds RPG elements, and I love RPGs. Especially with the new 3DS one delayed until 2014.

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