Mario Golf – N64

As we approach Labor Day, we have a chance to sit back over the long weekend and reflect on everything we did over the summer months. Labor Day is generally considered the final weekend of the summer as we prepare for school to resume and enter into the autumn season(probably my favorite). While I didn’t have a particularly eventful summer, I was however able to spend my time divided between work, and other leisure activities like playing video games or writing on my blog site. I made a while ago listing some of my favorite summertime games, and thought it would be fun to write about one of the games I mentioned – Mario Golf on N64

Mario Golf was first released on the Nintendo 64 in July of 1999 and developed by Camelot, the developers behind the Shining Force games for multiple Sega consoles, which would explain the RPG elements in scattered across Mario Golf games. Camelot had also created Everybody’s Golf that was released on the Playstation in 1997, which was the game engine that was used to create Mario Golf. Nintendo fans had been familiar enough with Mario in a sports setting as Mario and Luigi were the two playable characters in the 1991 game – NES Open. There’s also the seemingly forgotten Mario’s Tennis that was released on the Virtual Boy in 1995(no further explanation required…).

The gameplay represents a pretty straightforward Golf title where some of the intricacies of hitting the links in real life had been scaled down a bit, though there are still plenty of variables that can effect your shot such as wind, altitude, or length of grass in which your ball lies. Your swing is controlled by a meter in which you try to stop the cursor at two points, the left mark which affects the power of your swing and the mark on the right reflects the accuracy of your strike. You have a bag of 14 clubs, each showing the approximate distance you could expect on a full swing; a grid also appears in the distance ahead of you to show the landing area as you strive to steer clear of water hazards and bunkers. When putting, you are able to read the green with the help of a square grid that appears over the green to help indicate the slope to factor into just how hard to strike the ball. The putting in the game is probably my strongest area, and is similar to the putting while playing golf on Wii Sports(minus touch controls, obviously).

There’s a good assortment of game modes to play in Mario Golf, from basic Stroke Play where the player who completes 9 or 18 holes with the lowest strokes taken wins the match to Tournament, Ring Shot, Speed Golf, Mini-Golf, and a Training mode where you can select a specific course and hole to practice on. The game mode I spent the most time playing as a kid however, is Get Character, in which you play against a CPU controlled opponent with the character being unlocked and playable after beating them in an 18-hole match. The game has a generous list of playable characters – from Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and Wario to other characters only featured in Mario Golf titles like Charlie, Plum, Sonny, or Harry with each character having a different average distance off the tee and ball flight – draw, straight, or fade. Mario Golf also made use of the N64 Transfer Pack where you could transfer several characters from the Mario Golf game for Game Boy Advance that was released several months after the N64 version.

There are 8 playable courses in Mario Golf(two of them are mini-golf tracks), ranging from the more traditional country club venues of Toad Highlands and Koopa Park all the way to the more challenging courses like Boo Valley or Mario’s Star – featuring holes that are designed to resemble a different character from various Mario games. You earn points for every round you complete while playing the game with the largest amount of coins being your prize for winning in Tournament mode. Once you accumulate enough points you can unlock the next course as Toad Highlands is the only courses that is playable from the start.

What I love the most about Mario Golf is the simplicity – Mario and friends playing golf, no other frills. There’s no special shots or other nonsense that makes it hard for me to like any of the Mario Tennis games other than the original; I certainly understand that I may be a bit of a minority opinion on that. It may not be as true to life as other golf sims like the Tiger Woods PGA Tour games, but it provides a nice middle ground between arcade-y and straight-up simulation. The music provides a nice warm, relaxing feeling out on the course without being too upbeat as to prove distracting and the controls work well and still hold up pretty nicely. Another favorite part of the game is by pressing any of the C-buttons you can “taunt” the other players mid-ballflight or on the green such as Luigi’s “Mama-mia!” or Wario’s “Hurry up already!”, this always provided tons of fun while playing with friends; of course you can’t use these while your opponent is teeing off…that would be bad golf etiquette 😉

For the many things that Mario Golf does well and I enjoy about the game, there are a few things that detract from it. There is a significant difficulty curve in getting to the point of being able to score par or birdie more often than not, part of this being that there’s not much forgiveness for mis-hits. If you miss your accuracy mark by a little too much and you will shank the ball straight left and only about ten yards out. The game certainly punishes any mistakes you make, along with the feeling that your yardages are very RARELY accurate. Also pushing gameplay to that of a golf sim is the many variables that you have to account for such as your lie, elevation, wind, or merely wetness of the grass. I spend a few hours playing the game over the weekend and while I still enjoy playing the game, it’s aged reasonably well with sound and visuals(aged as well as any 3D games of the era at least…), I feel it’s rather tough to recommend to someone that has never played any of the Mario Golf games before or simply playing solo. I may have spent the most time playing the N64 version, but in my opinion the best entry of the Mario Golf series would still have to be the Game Boy Color version that was released a few months after. The GBA release retains all of the positives of the N64 version, but the single player story has added RPG elements to it that create a little more interesting experience, due to Camelot’s work history with the Shining Force games for Sega. I encourage anyone not familiar with any of the Mario Golf games(or golf games in general) to check out the GBA version of the game.

That’s all for now! Have you ever played any of the Mario Golf games or any of the Mario Sports games on Nintendo consoles? What’s a game that you loved playing as a kid, but upon returning many years later hasn’t held up particularly well? Let me know in the comments below. I’m going to kick back and enjoy the rest of my Labor Day with my boy Dimitri and some more Fire Emblem: Three Houses!

Keep on playing…

My Summertime Games

I’m going to start off by apologizing for not having a blog post ready for this past weekend, my brother was in town for the week and I didn’t have much time to sit at my computer and write anything out. I had an enjoyable week playing games and visiting our local used game store in town. As this past week was the 4th of July, I thought it would be fun to write about the games that I associate with summertime. I have made a list of the games that always remind me of those summer days as kids where my brother and I would come inside from playing baseball out in the backyard, grab a couple cold sodas, and then proceed to play some games during the hottest hours of the day. First off….

All-Star Baseball – “America’s Pastime”, this was a bit difficult to name just one single baseball game as my favorite, but the first memories that come to mind are playing the All-Star Baseball games on my N64. I started as a kid playing La Russa Baseball 95 on Sega Genesis all the way through to present day MLB The Show games. We would play outside and pretend we were hitting in major league stadiums like Ken Griffey Jr. or Mike Piazza and then head inside to continue on as our favorite players on the N64. The games have improved by light years from the simple design of the 16-bit days, and the yearly offering of MLB The Show is still probably the games I play most during the summer months. I often think of all the time spent playing baseball on N64, as well as in the backyard with friends and family, being inseparable from any mention of summertime.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – Growing up in the 90’s and into the early 2000’s before extreme sports games like skateboarding and snowboarding seemingly went extinct, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater most successful series of the genre and helped bring extreme sports even further into popular culture of the time; remember Jackass or Viva La Bam on MTV? or when the X Games drew massive viewers on ESPN? I first played the original Pro Skater the summer of 2000 after a cousin brought the N64 version of the game over and spent the day playing. I got my mom to buy my brother and I a copy of the game from a local Kmart and we spent the rest of the summer obsessively playing it; I remember waking up in the mornings that summer just to try and collect more tapes thereby unlocking more levels. As someone unable to even stand on a skateboard( and living in the middle of nowhere) this was like discovering another world. Pro Skater, along with Rogue Squadron 2 were the first games I got when the GameCube came out in 2002. I still have copies of the first couple Tony Hawk games for Playstation that are still fun to go back and play every now and then, despite the camera and controls which have not aged particularly well. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a huge game for me during all those summers as a kid, not to mention all of the cool licensed music that were used for the games. Ask anyone who played the game to NOT think of THPS upon hearing Superman by Goldfinger.

Mario Golf N64 – I dragged my trusty N64 into my living room a few weeks ago and Mario Golf was one of the first games that I popped in. I spent countless hours with my younger brother and our neighbor friend trying to unlock all the extra characters that you needed to first beat in Match Play, which proved quite challenging to say the least. I remember taking turns playing one hole each trying to beat Metal Mario…I don’t think we ever did? The music and sound effects from this game still bring forth all those warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings after all these years. I dragged my trusty N64 into my living room a few weeks ago and Mario Golf was one of the first games that I popped in and plan on going through and writing about the Mario Golf series as I love all the games. While many consider Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color to be the high point of the series, my favorite would still have to be the N64 version.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – Man…I can’t even imagine the hours that were spent playing this on Playstation 2. GTA: Vice City was the game my brother and I saved every cent of allowance money and traded in several stacks of games just to buy a PS2, because we knew we HAD TO GET THIS GAME. Vice City took everything that GTA 3 had pioneered in open-world games and added even more. My friends and I used to take turns playing the game for hours on end without even attempting to actually complete a storyline mission. I had never played anything like it to that point, it was so fun to run around the neon, tropical landscape of Vice City set during the 1980s. The carefree do-anything gameplay, music, and chaos that Rockstar created in Vice City is still one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of video games in the summertime.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – I ACTUALLY have a more recently released game on my list! It has been two years since I was able to get a Switch and the obvious choice of game to go along with it is Breath of the Wild. I spent the rest of the summer completing shrines and gathering Korok seeds in Nintendo’s open-world Zelda masterpiece. I had been itching to play through the game all over again, so I started another playthrough over the weekend with the intention of completing every shrine and finding every Korok seed, along with finally completing the Master Sword Trial( wish me luck! 😉 ). There really isn’t much to say about BotW that hasn’t already been said, if you have not played it yet…YOU NEED TO PLAY THIS! The game is an experience.

Super Mario Sunshine – I am simply unable to think of summertime video games without Super Mario Sunshine being one of the first games springing to mind. I fell in love with this game from the first time I played in on my GameCube in August 2002 and Mario’s vacation-gone-awry on Isle Delfino is still one of my highlights on the console. The exotic Isle Delfino and the Piantas – its anti-pollution, fruit-loving denizens, simply evokes images of a dream summer vacation. The wonderful Koji Kondo soundtrack adds to the summertime mood as well. Despite the seemingly relaxed vibe of the game, it can be terrifyingly difficult; just take a look at some of the 3D puzzle-platforming levels in the later stages of the game. I recently wrote up a list of my “Switch Wish List” and Sunshine is one of the games I really would love to play on the Switch, as the predecessor of Super Mario Odyssey. While the camera is STILL the games biggest drawback, it is a pure enjoyable experience traversing Isle Delfino with your waterpack – F.L.U.D.D and still consider it one of the defining experiences on the GameCube. Switch re-release or not, Super Mario Sunshine is still my go-to summer gaming experience.

That’s going to be it for this week’s post, what games do you think of right away if you when you reminisce about childhood summers? What are you still excited to play the remained of the sumer? I did also pick up a copy of Super Mario Maker 2 and have been loving it so far; the depth of the course creator and insane user-created levels are really impressive. That along with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 when it releases in a couple weeks will most likely consume the rest of my summer. I still have a lot of games that I want to keep working on as the past week was spent mostly playing MLB The Show, Mario Kart 8, and an assorted few N64 and GameCube games and then of course, Season 3 of Stranger Things. I do plan to get more in the rhythm of writing weekly posts moving forward through the rest of the summer. Over the course of the week, I was able to come up with some ideas for future blog posts that I would love to experiment with as well, so I’m pretty happy about that. Happy National Video Game Day! Finally…a holiday for us gamers 😉

Keep on playing…