Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour
When he's not saving the Mushroom Kingdom from imminent doom, Nintendo's favorite mascot Mario somehow manages to maintain a healthy lifestyle with multiple hobbies. Why, he's an avid tennis player, an aspiring artist, a world-renowned kart racer, and just between you and me, I've heard that he's one wild party animal too. But what does Mario do to really relax? The gentleman's game of golf apparently, as Mario tees it up in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, the long-awaited sequel to the N64 classic Mario Golf.
Adding lovable mascots to a game outside their genre is nothing new, but only has Nintendo been able to do it time and time again with success each time. It's no different with Toadstool Tour, as it oozes with charm and character. The character roster has everyone from the obvious choices, such as Mario and Yoshi, to the more obscure characters like Birdo (of Super Mario Bros. 2 fame) and Waluigi. The ever-present charm is evident in the courses as well. The first few courses are somewhat tame, but the later courses have elements ripped straight out of the NES Super Mario games: Chain Chomps, Warp Pipes, Stomp Blocks and Bob-ombs all litter the later courses and give Mario Golf a unique flare and really separate it from every other golf game in the market.
Looks can be deceiving though. Behind the Chain Chomps and Warp Pipes that litter each course, there lies a solid golf game. Everything that's expected of a competent golf game is in Toadstool Tour, but within the whimsical world of Mario and friends. The mechanics are easy enough for novices to get a hold of quickly, but there are plenty of intricacies to keep the seasoned golf fan pleased. Unlike recent golf games, Toadstool Tour still uses the three-click system found in the N64 version, but with some subtle differences that adds a lot more strategy to shots. Needless to say, Toadstool Tour is much more fun with others and is a perfect multiplayer game with it's ease of play. Couple that with the slew of additional modes of play, and you have a title that'll be in your GameCube for quite a while.
The visuals and audio in Toadstool Tour fit appropriately with the game: cute and charming. Unfortunately, the big technical letdown lies in the camera. Simply put, it's just not flexible enough in the long game to get a good read of where the ball will lie. Putting can be anti-climatic due to the camera as well, since the camera rarely follows the ball to the hole. Certainly a letdown when compared to the polished presentation of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series.
As a Mario game, Toadstool Tour lives up to the name well, and as a golf game, it keeps up with the competition nicely. If you're looking for something a bit more accessible and arcade-influenced than most golf games, or if you just love Mario, you can't go wrong with Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour.