I have made no secret of my excitement for Mario Golf: Super Rush, the over-the-top arcade sports title arriving on the Nintendo Switch this Friday, and with good reason. Not only is Camelot Software Planning the developer behind one of my favorite RPG series (Golden Sun) and the best modern entry in the long-running Mario sports franchise (2018’s Mario Tennis Aces), but they’ve also ably combined these two disparate genres several times in the past—specifically in GBA standouts Mario Golf: Advance Tour and Mario Tennis: Power Tour—with spectacular results.
While not a simple retread of these early-aughts classics, Super Rush is clearly cut from the same cloth, and it manages to put a wonderfully modern spin on the wacky Mushroom Kingdom athletic antics with a side order of RPG-lite gameplay.
Mario Golf: Super Rush boasts five principal modes of play, though the lines between some of these can be a little tenuous. While they can all be enjoyed solo, Standard, Speed, and Battle Golf are more easily viewed as variations on the tried and true four-golfer experience. Each of these game types supports local and online play with up to two real-life players per system; any additional slots are easily filled by the game’s AI players representing familiar characters such as Mario, Luigi, and Wario, as well as newcomers like Pauline, Chargin’ Chuck, and King Bob-omb.
Unsurprisingly, each character is tailored to a specific style of play, with Mario being an all-arounder as opposed to Donkey Kong and Bowser’s reliance on long drives at the expense of control and finesse. Everyone has the obligatory themed Special Shot—Boo’s Mischief Twister haunts opponents, while Toad’s Super Toad Strike makes his golf ball grow in size and blast away nearby balls on impact—that can be executed once the appropriate meter is fully filled. This time around, though, a similar Special Dash mechanic has also been added; tied to each player’s Dash Gauge, this affords them both additional speed and a sneaky way to blast by the competition in Speed and Battle Golf modes.
Standard and Speed Golf are very customizable—allowing for 3, 6, 9, and 18 hole play across all 6 unlockable courses—but while even the vanilla mode is far from your traditional sports sim, Speed Golf adds a comical footrace on top of the already crazy courses and goofy characters. Moreover, it forces players to choose between quick shots and more deliberate gameplay, as ultimately strokes are added to your overall time.
Battle Golf, while a bit more limited in scope, is really a creature all its own. All 9 holes in this enclosed battle arena are available from the first drive, but they close as soon as any player manages to sink a putt. Navigate traps and obstacles—not to mention the sinister machinations of the other players—to claim 3 flags, and you’ll be crowned the winner.
As fun and flexible as these modes are, my favorite (and the mode I spent most of my time on) was the newly added Golf Adventure. After enrolling your Mii in a training program, you’ll learn the Mario Golf ropes, acquire new clubs and clothes, and even fight a few boss battles as you make your way up the circuit. This was the element I was most excited about returning to the franchise, and I was in no way disappointed.
The narrative (from its cinematic opening to its unexpectedly pitched finale) is consistently wild and whimsical, and the various new shot types and special techniques you learn along the way really do make you a more effective in-game golfer. This playthrough is also used to unlock the title’s various courses—from the basic Bonny Greens to the Balmy Dunes desert course and beyond. Further, it lets you customize your Mii golfer, fine-tuning basic stats—Power, Stamina, Speed, Control, and Spin—to make them an ideal match for your preferred modes and playstyle. As an added bonus, upon completion of the story mode, you’ll unlock your Mii player for Battle Golf.
Lastly, and certainly not to be overlooked, is the Solo Challenge. This mode continually tests your mettle by pitting you against your own best score or time across all 18 holes in a course. It’s perfect for further honing your skills, and its single-player structure makes it ideal for when you’re looking for a more contained challenge. It also perfectly illustrates the game’s intuitive control setup, which certainly rewards an existing understanding of arcade golf mechanics without ever expecting too much from novices.
Look, Speed Golf and its titular dashing aside, Mario Golf: Super Rush doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. But what it does do is offer a variety of modes, tons of multiplayer options, and a wonderful RPG-lite experience that’s easy to love, whether you’re going it alone on your Switch Lite or using the Joy-Con motion controls to hit the links with your family and friends.
In short, Mario Golf: Super Rush once again does what Mario sports titles do best; it takes a simple premise (golf), adds in some beloved characters and environments (Toad, Princess Peach, and the various trappings of the Mushroom Kingdom), and then shakes things up with a little well-reasoned quirkiness (Special Shots, Gold Coin collecting, and lots and lots of running), all without ever losing sight of the low barrier of entry that makes arcade sports games so engaging. Anyone who’s ever seen a shot gauge can easily pick up Super Rush and have a fun, frustration-free time, and I challenge even golf purists to resist the game’s many simple, silly charms.
Review and promotional materials provided by Nintendo of America. This post contains affiliate links. Chargin’ Chuck is a jerk!