Summer looms ahead, and kids are out of school. Nintendo's newest multiplayer Mario game is a return to its classic Mario Golf franchise. Do you like golf? Do you like Mario? We might have a match for you.
After playing Mario Golf: Super Rush for about a week, I don't have that many exciting things to report. There are five 18-hole courses, and several ways to play them with a variety of familiar Mario characters (Luigi, Yoshi, Toad, Waluigi... you get the idea). Mario Golf games in the past, going all the way back to a really great RPG-style mode that was in Mario Golf on the Game Boy, felt like a lot of casual fun with just enough sporting skill. The courses I've played so far have some weird Mario hazards (storm clouds blowing you off-course, tornadoes), but it's not as wild (or as fun) as miniature golf. The golfing is good. It's the other modes I'm not entirely sold on.
There's an adventure mode in Mario Golf: Super Rush, and it uses your Mii avatar. It was fun to see myself golfing alongside Mushroom Kingdom characters... and weird. Also, the game's squeaky sound effects for me and the other players got really annoying. I never complain about sounds in Nintendo games, but believe me, after a few hours of Adventure Mode, I was ready to mute everything.
Adventure mode isn't much of an RPG, though: It's more of a series of course challenges with chances to level up and improve skills, like running speed, set in a world you can run around in and talk to characters (which doesn't tend to do much). And this is where Super Rush gets really weird: Courses can be played in a Speed Mode where players run to each hole and race to golf. It's sort of like a race, in that there's a time limit and golf strokes add time to the countdown. Players can collide with each other to get an advantage, or trigger power-ups. But even with all that, I found that Speed Mode was still about golfing: lining up shots, putting spin on the swing, accounting for wind, etc. The rush part was more of a weird distraction for me.
Combining "wacky Mario race" with "Let's focus and play golf" isn't a great marriage for me, either. Mario Tennis Aces, the Switch's other crazy Mario competitive sport game, seemed like a better place for wacky Nintendo backstabbing, as tennis is fast and directly competitive. Golf is Zen. A Battle Golf mode goes even further, letting players attack each other on the way to sink balls in holes. These extra modes are welcome, and the adventure mode and these other ways to play offer added value here. I just felt like, after playing for an hour or so at a time, I was a little bored.
Mario Golf: Super Rush supports two-player split-screen on one Switch or on a TV, with four players in the normal turn-swapping golf mode. I used regular Joy-Con button controls, but a motion swing mode is available too for a Wii Sports-type feel. For online games, two players on one Switch at home can join in a group game together. In that sense, this Mario Golf has a lot of options for family fun. But you've got to like golf and golf controls, which can get complex for really young players.
I mentioned mini golf above -- now that's a Mario golf game I'd like to play! This isn't that, but Mario Golf could be the summer golfing package you need. Otherwise, I'd go with other options for Mario family gaming.