Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour review

GamesMaster goes clubbing with Mario and his mates. See you at the 19th!

If we did as much sporting activity as Mario - tennis, fighting, golf, jumping on turtles' heads - we'd be pretty disappointed if we still looked more Luciano Pavarotti than Mr Gay UK. But that doesn't seem to stop him and Toadstool Tour, a follow-up to Mario Golf on the N64, has him taking to the golf course again.

Alongside him, of course, are the usual cast, all looking as good as they ever have in a Mario game. There's Peach, with a swing that scatters rose petals behind it, and Donkey Kong, who holds his club one-handed and makes it look small enough for a six-year-old.

Of course, there are going to be golf fans who'd rather chew on their own balls than play a golf game that looks geared to children, with courses set in the warp-pipe- and chain-chomp-infested grounds of a fantasy castle. And they'd have a point - Toadstool Tour can easily be played by kids because of its autoswing feature. The game can be played pretty much by just using the A button, hitting it when the meter reaches 'full' for a full swing.

But that's not all there is to it. Scratch beneath the coin- and rainbow-covered surface and there's all the depth you'd expect from a golfing game. Shots can be lined up with precision and using the manual swing requires more skill and allows you to perform all sorts of chips and spins.

The swing system works as well as it did in the original Mario Golf, but golfing games have come on a bit since the N64 days. Basically, Tiger Woods has all but laid to rest the old meter system with its tighter, more intuitive analogue-stick control. And repeatedly hitting a couple of buttons at the right time starts to feel tedious. Another problem is Toadstool Tour's camera. The C-stick allows you to follow the ball's potenial path pre-shot, but you only get a very restricted view. And when you've played a shot and are looking forward to seeing it soar over a sea of chain chomps onto the green, the camera often struggles to keep it in shot or ends up giving you a close-up of a tree trunk.

Finally, the ball physics often don't feel quite right - the ball generally doesn't roll as far as you'd imagine. You get used to it, but ultra-realistic physics might have made up for the slightly lacking control system.

The game certainly has its problems, but it's well put-together. The extra modes are almost more fun than the championship - collecting coins and beating your own (and your mates') high scores is as addictive as Monkey Ball's Monkey Target. The obstacle-ridden courses are a nice touch and the more players, the better it gets. Serious golfing fanatics could be disappointed but there's plenty here for everyone else.

Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour will be swinging away on Gamecube on 18 June

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