Mario Golf (series)

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Mario Golf
The current logo of the Mario Golf series.
The current logo of the Mario Golf series.
First installment Mario Golf (Nintendo 64) (1999)
Latest installment Mario Golf: Super Rush (2021)
Number of installments 12 (6 direct, 6 indirect)
Parent franchise Mario

Mario Golf (マリオゴルフ Mario Gorufu) is a sports video game series developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo. The series brought the Mario universe to golf, even though Mario himself had appeared in multiple golf games on older systems. Mario Golf, the first Camelot game to use the Mario branding and to be developed for a Nintendo system, debuted on the Nintendo 64 in 1999 and was ported to Game Boy Color. Releases followed of one game for both the Nintendo GameCube and the Game Boy Advance, while the fifth installment was released for Nintendo 3DS in 2014, and a sixth installment released for the Nintendo Switch in 2021. Some games in the series feature role-playing game elements.

The N64 and Game Boy Color versions can communicate with each other via Transfer Pak connectivity, and the GameCube and GBA versions can do the same via the Game Link Cable; the connectivity features allow players to upload characters and data from one game into the other.

Gameplay[edit]

Mario hits a golf ball with other characters looking on.

Players can play as a variety of recurring Mario characters, including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Baby Mario, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Wario, and Bowser among others. The first and second generation Mario Golf games also feature original human characters created by Camelot specifically for these games, such as Kid, Plum, Sonny, or Harry; none of these characters have made any reappearances outside of the series save for Plum, who has appeared as a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee and as a sticker in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Kid, who has appeared in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a spirit.

Mario Golf games are typical golf games, where the player's objective is to hit the ball into the hole using as few strokes as possible. The games in the series specifically have simplified "pick-up-and-play" type gameplay, which does away with many of the complicated real-life aspects of golf as found in other games relating to the sport. However, despite the simplicity of the games' appearance and play style, they run on very deep game engines. Before each swing, the player chooses a club, a general direction, and a range for the ball to travel. During the swing, the player determines power by timing a button press for a marker to stop at the desired point on a power meter; at this point, the player can choose to influence the direction of the ball by applying spin. Players can alternate between auto and manual shots, with the latter providing the player with more control, albeit at a higher risk of a poor shot. Many of these gameplay aspects, such as spin, are affected by characters' individual statistics. These relate to features such as control of the ball and the general height of shots, which determines how much the character's play is affected by environmental factors like wind, rain, and relief of the land. The first- and second-generation Mario Golf home console games also have characters use recorded voice samples to comment on their opponents' shots.

Mario Golf games contain several gameplay modes and variants of golf, including the traditional stroke and match play, speed golf, ring shot, mini golf, and skins match. The main mode is "Tournament Mode", where the player competes against artificial intelligence (AI) opponents on a series of courses to win trophies. With the progression of the series, new modes were introduced, such as "Character Match", where characters battle computer-designated AI opponents to be upgraded into "star characters" and gain statistical enhancements; "Coin Attack", where players can collect coins scattered around courses; and "Ring Attack", where players are required to direct the ball through rings of varying locations, angles, and diameter while keeping on or under par.

The courses in Mario Golf games are based on traditional locations within the Mario franchise, such as the grounds of Peach's Castle in the Mushroom Kingdom. As the series progressed, more complex terrain and exotic features were introduced into courses, and courses were designed that resemble real-life golf courses. More advanced courses offer a higher frequency of difficult terrain and elevation, as in bunkers, which limit the accuracy and range of shots. There are also hazards themed after the Mario universe: these include lava pits, Thwomps, Chain Chomps, etc., which will incur one-shot penalties if landed on, as will water sections and out-of-bounds areas; and Warp Pipes, which can change the location of the ball.

The handheld Mario Golf games are styled after role-playing games. They feature an overworld map, where the player can walk around and interact with different courses, characters, and objects. There are golfing clubs which hold tournaments. The player controls a golf player (either male or female) and aims to win the aforementioned tournaments. There are also side courses where the player can train or earn special clubs. Each of the courses has two places of interest: the main golf course and the practice area. The main course is accessed by entering tourneys or playing practice rounds, and the practice area allows players to test their skill with minigames.

In the first handheld Mario Golf and Advance Tour, the golfing clubs are named Marion, Palms, Dunes, and Links. The player-character achieves the goal of becoming the "ultimate golfer" by winning the tournaments in the aforementioned clubs, defeating their champions in match games, and earning the right to engage in a one-on-one match against Mario, who in the context of these games is the world's ultimate golfing champion. In addition to its main course and practice area, Marion features a third place of interest: the clubhouse, which is where the player-characters are based and can talk to other golfers. By progressing through the game and completing its various elements, the player can gain experience to distribute among the two characters to enhance both their drive as well as their hitting capabilities. As a character levels up in those games, they gain stat points to improve their abilities.

Home console to handheld interactivity[edit]

The first and second generations of Mario Golf consisted of one home console title and one handheld title; each pair of titles had content transferable from one game to the other. Using the Nintendo 64's Transfer Pak, players were able to upload characters and data found in the Game Boy Color version to the Nintendo 64 version, meaning that the players exclusive to the Game Boy game could be seen and played as in full 3D. Data from the Nintendo 64 version was also saved onto the Game Boy Color cartridge. Transfer Pak functionality is not included in the Virtual Console release. The connectivity functions returned when players were able to use the Nintendo GameCube - Game Boy Advance Cable to transfer characters between Toadstool Tour and Advance Tour. These functions are absent from later entries of the series, as these games do not have a respective counterpart.

Installments[edit]

Main series[edit]

Title
Cover, original release, and system Synopsis
Mario Golf (Nintendo 64)
North American box art for Mario Golf on Nintendo 64
Japan June 11, 1999
Nintendo 64
The original Mario Golf, for Nintendo 64, is a 3D golfing simulator featuring the standard cast of Mario characters along with a new cast of human characters exclusive to the game. Players could choose to play through tournaments and special challenges in the single player mode. The meat and potatoes of the multiplayer side of the game were the strokes and match play modes, with special modes including a mini-putt mode (called "Putt-Putt") and a practice mode.
Mario Golf (Game Boy Color)
MGGBC Cover.png
Japan August 5, 1999
Game Boy Color
A port of Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color was released shortly after the home console game, and has a very different premise. What stands this version apart from its Nintendo 64 counterpart is that much of the single player mode is played as an RPG, where players can choose one of four characters and conquer the challenges of the golf world. The game also features a multiplayer mode and special free-play modes for players interested solely in the golfing portion of the game and those who had finished or wanted a break from the main quest. The portable game could link up to the Nintendo 64 version via the use of that console's Transfer Pak, and characters trained in the Game Boy Color version could then be played in the Nintendo 64 version like any other character.
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour game cover
USA July 28, 2003
Nintendo GameCube
One of the first Mario spin-off titles to be released for the Nintendo GameCube, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour takes the basic formula of the N64 version and made only minor revisions. The main appeals of this version were the highly updated graphics and improved swing system. New guides on the interface showed players exactly how much power they needed to land the ball exactly where they wanted it. Players still need to factor in the wind, the ball lie, and deal with their slicing or drawing the ball. New playable characters added in this installment include a Koopa Troopa, Daisy, Diddy Kong, Waluigi, Birdo, Bowser Jr., a Boo, Shadow Mario, and Petey Piranha.
Mario Golf: Advance Tour
The front North American cover for Mario Golf: Advance Tour
Japan April 22, 2004
Game Boy Advance
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour was successful enough to spawn a Game Boy Advance counterpart, released about a year afterward under the name Mario Golf: Advance Tour. This game can be linked to its home console counterpart via the Nintendo GameCube - Game Boy Advance cable. It follows two fledgling golfers named Neil and Ella in their quest to become world-class golfers. Though the game's content was very similar to the previous handheld release, the new visuals impressed with pre-rendered sprites and Mode 7 scaling for the golf courses. Neil and Ella, after being trained up, could also be uploaded onto Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, where when playing with other characters, they gain their own custom taunts and support messages like the Mario characters who were playable in the GameCube game. Also, based on the number of Best Badges earned in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, new features, such as special versions of every hole in Mario Golf: Advance Tour, can be unlocked.
Mario Golf: World Tour
Box art for Mario Golf: World Tour
Japan May 1, 2014
Nintendo 3DS
Mario Golf: World Tour is a title for the Nintendo 3DS. It introduces a number of new features into the series, including gyroscope support, online multiplayer, Item Shots, and downloadable content. Like Mario Tennis Open, it features Miis as playable characters (a first for the Mario Golf series) and unlockable outfits for them. Miis aside, new playable characters to the series introduced in this installment include Toad, Kamek, and a Koopa Paratroopa as unlockable characters, as well as Gold Mario, Toadette, Nabbit, and Rosalina as characters available through add-on content.
Mario Golf: Super Rush
Mario Golf: Super Rush cover
June 25, 2021
Nintendo Switch
Mario Golf: Super Rush is a title for the Nintendo Switch. It features many new features and (online) multiplayer modes, as well as Story Mode and a reimagined version of Speed Golf, where players must traverse the course between shots. Motion or button controls can be used to play.

New playable characters added in this installment include Pauline, Chargin' Chuck, and King Bob-omb, as well as Ninji post-launch.

Predecessors and spin-offs[edit]

Title
Cover, original release, and system Synopsis
Golf
Boxart for Golf
Japan May 1, 1984
NES
This game is much older and less common than the next golf title for the NES, NES Open Tournament Golf, but it has been ported to more systems including the America-only Nintendo PlayChoice-10 and the Game Boy. Mario is the only playable character in the game, appearing in blue pants and a white shirt. Player 2 controls a palette-swap that wears black pants and a red shirt. A version known as VS. Golf was later released for the VS. System.
Family Computer Golf: Japan Course
Famicom-Golf-Japan-Course-cover.png
Japan February 21, 1987
FDS
This Japan-only game is a simple update to the 1984 original, although Mario is in his normal outfit. Luigi is available for the second player. There is also a palette-swapped computer opponent that wears black and brown.

Japan Course was involved in a major contest. After finishing all the holes, players had an option of saving their score. If the score was good, the score could be recorded into a special blue disk that came with the game and sent via Disk Fax to Nintendo in Kyoto. The top 100 scorers received a plaque with their names on it, as well as a golden Disk Card with their name and rank programmed onto the title screen and it contains a harder golf course called the Champions' Course. 5000 other contestants received the Professional Course golden Disk Card which is not as difficult as the Champions' Course but still much harder than the original.

Family Computer Golf: U.S. Course
Family Computer Golf: U.S. Course
Japan June 14, 1987
FDS
U.S. Course was released months later and is also a Japan-exclusive game. It is more open, and a bird's-eye-view of the holes is not available during gameplay, making it a bit more challenging. In this game, Mario wears a blue shirt and red-and-white striped overalls. Luigi is not mentioned in the game or the instruction manual but the second player is a green palette-swap while player 3 is blue and player 4 is orange. There is also a hidden female playable character that can be unlocked.

It also had a contest similar to Japan Course in which the main prize was a trophy and a golden Punch-Out!! Famicom cartridge. An unannounced prize was the golden disk Family Computer Golf: Prize Card which contained the harder Special Course. It was given out during the same contest but likely as part of a lottery to a thousand players whose submissions included a hole-in-one.

NES Open Tournament Golf
NESOTG cover NA.jpg
Japan September 20, 1991
NES
This NES game was made in both America and Japan, featuring Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Princess Daisy. Also, various other humans made their appearance, including Steve (beginner), Mark (amateur), Tony (semi-professional), and Billy (professional). In the American version, the graphics differ slightly, and the soundtrack has been changed.

A version of this game was made for the Nintendo PlayChoice-10 in America, called Mario's Open Golf.

Mobile Golf
MobileGolfBoxart.gif
Japan May 11, 2001
Game Boy Color
Being released for the Game Boy Color as well, this game was very similar to its predecessor. Mobile Golf was only released in Japan. Its main innovation were multiplayer games within a mobile phone network via a special adapter.
Mario Sports Superstars
MarioSportsSuperstarsBoxArt.png
Europe March 10, 2017
Nintendo 3DS
A Nintendo 3DS game that was released in March 2017. Golf, developed by Camelot like the main series, is included as one of the five sports available. Metal Mario returns after having been playable in the first Mario Golf but absent from its sequels, and Baby Luigi and Pink Gold Peach, both characters that have yet to be playable in the main Mario Golf series, are playable in this game.

Playable characters[edit]

In the nine installments of the Mario Golf series, many Mario characters appear. Human characters unique to the Mario Golf series, such as Kid, appear in dark cells.

Golfer Golf NES Open N64 GBC Mobile Toadstool Tour Advance Tour World Tour Superstars Super Rush
Mario Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg1 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg7 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Luigi Check mark.svg Check mark.svg1 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Peach Check mark.svg Check mark.svg7 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Bowser Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Baby Mario Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Yoshi Check mark.svg1 Check mark.svg7 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Wario Check mark.svg1 Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Donkey Kong Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Metal Mario Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg2
Plum Check mark.svg
Charlie Check mark.svg
Sonny Check mark.svg2
Harry Check mark.svg2
Maple Check mark.svg2
Kid Check mark.svg6 Check mark.svg5 Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg
Sherry Check mark.svg6 Check mark.svg5 Check mark.svg
Joe Check mark.svg6 Check mark.svg5 Check mark.svg
Azalea Check mark.svg6 Check mark.svg5 Check mark.svg
Putts Check mark.svg2,5 Check mark.svg
Grace Check mark.svg2,5 Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg
Tiny Check mark.svg2,5 Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg
Gene Yuss Check mark.svg2,5 Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg
Foreman Spike Check mark.svg7
Ken Check mark.svg
Napple Check mark.svg
Thread Check mark.svg
Lisa Check mark.svg
Bean Check mark.svg2
Rozary Check mark.svg2
Powert Check mark.svg2
Bird Check mark.svg2
Daisy Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Koopa Troopa Check mark.svg Check mark.svg4
Diddy Kong Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Waluigi Check mark.svg Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Birdo Check mark.svg Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg
Bowser Jr. Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Boo Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Shadow Mario Check mark.svg2
Petey Piranha Check mark.svg2
Neil Check mark.svg6 Check mark.svg
Ella Check mark.svg6 Check mark.svg
Toad Check mark.svg2 Check mark.svg
Kamek Check mark.svg2
Paratroopa Check mark.svg2
Gold Mario Check mark.svg3
Toadette Check mark.svg3 Check mark.svg4
Nabbit Check mark.svg3
Rosalina Check mark.svg3 Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Mii Check mark.svg Check mark.svg
Baby Luigi Check mark.svg
Pink Gold Peach Check mark.svg2
Pauline Check mark.svg
Chargin' Chuck Check mark.svg
King Bob-omb Check mark.svg
Ninji Check mark.svg4
Unique characters introduced 1 1 16 4 8 + 1 DLC = 9 11 0 1 + 7 DLC = 8 2 3 + 1 DLC = 4
Total playable characters 1 2 18 11 12 + 4 DLC = 16 18 18 13 + 8 DLC = 21 18 16 + 3 DLC = 19

1 - The character is unlockable, but available by default in multiplayer.
2 - The character is unlockable.
3 - The character is available as paid DLC.
4 - The character was added through a free update.
5 - The character is only playable in Story Mode.
6 - The character is unlocked by transfering from partner version
7 - The character is unlockable through Mobile Adapter GB DLC

Game modes[edit]

It has been requested that this section be rewritten and expanded to include more game modes.

Speed Golf[edit]

Wario beginning a round of Speed Golf in Mario Golf for Nintendo 64.
“Finish faster than anyone else. The faster play time wins!”
Introduction, Mario Golf (Nintendo 64)

Speed Golf is a recurring game mode that has appeared in nearly every main installment of the Mario Golf series. The game mode's rules throughout the series are to complete a course (or a three-, six-, or nine-hole section of it) as fast as possible, and the player is timed through each hole on how long the player has spent on each one. It can usually be played against a CPU or alone, and any course can be chosen. In Mario Golf: Super Rush, players must run to the balls in order to hit them until they enter the hole.

Gallery[edit]

Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese マリオゴルフ
Mario Gorufu
Mario Golf
Chinese (Simplified) 马力欧高尔夫[1]
Mǎlì'ōu Gāo'ěrfū
Mario Golf
Chinese (Traditional) 瑪利歐高爾夫[2]
Mǎlì'ōu Gāo'ěrfū
Mario Golf
Korean 마리오 골프
Malio Golpeu
Mario Golf

Trivia[edit]

  • A golf course appears in the background of the Mushroom Kingdom stage of the Adventure Mode of Super Smash Bros. Melee, as a reference to the Mario Golf series. The Mario Golf series is also mentioned in Luigi's Diary in Paper Mario.
  • Mario Golf is referenced in the Death Note manga, when Ryuk asks Light Yagami if he wants to play Mario Golf.
  • In Nintendo Monopoly, there is a Coin Block/Brick Block card that rewards the player with $100 for winning a golf tournament.
  • This series defies many common trends regarding the stats that Mario characters tend to have. For example, Mario, a balanced character in almost every game, has one of the longest drives in every Mario Golf game, while his brother Luigi, who is also often balanced, is a weak driver but has good control over the ball. Wario, typically a power character, is a middle-class driver in this series. Princess Daisy, usually a technique or balanced character, is a power-hitter similar to Mario.
  • Rabbid Peach's Sandbagger Sentry in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle references the Mario Golf games, as its description alludes to the golf club on the front of the weapon possibly belonging to Mario.

References[edit]