Mario Golf : World Tour

Mario_Golf_World_Tour_boxartDate Completed: Nov. 26th, 2015

I have fond memories of the Gameboy Color version of Mario Golf but I hadn’t played a Mario Golf title since.  I thought Mario Golf : World Tour might be something I could play with my wife but when I asked her about it she said she had no interest in playing golf on her 3DS.  So much for that.  I probably wouldn’t have ever bought the title but when Club Nintendo was closing down and the time came to choose my final Platinum reward game I ended up settling for Mario Golf because I already owned most of the other available options.

The first time I ever played electronic golf was on my brand-new Gateway 2000 PC back in the mid ’90s which came with a free copy of Microsoft Golf.  Playing Mario Golf World Tour isn’t a significant departure from golf games of the past.  The primary differences from past titles are the things that go on around the clubhouse.  You play as your Mii and you have the ability to unlock items such as shirt, shoes, clubs and balls that can all affect your game in various ways.  Other golfers show up in your clubhouse via Steetpass and you can participate in online tournaments.  There are three single-player tournaments but if you don’t mind paying for DLC there appear to be other tournaments you can download from the eShop.

It didn’t take me long to beat the main three single-player championship tournaments and I didn’t want to get involved in online stuff.  There is still a LOT of equipment left for me to unlock in the game so I feel like I must have missed something but as far as I can tell the credits have rolled and I’m done with the game.  I would have liked to see another few championship courses but since the game was basically free I won’t complain.  I don’t plan on putting much more time into the game but since I own the downloaded version this game will live forevermore on my 3DS’s home screen.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself starting it up from time to time for a round or two.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 6/10
Length:  8 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Sports / Golf

Punch-Out

Date Completed : May 26, 2013

Punch OutI played the original Punch-Out years ago when Mike Tyson was still the star.  Way back then I was never able to make it past the first bout with Bald Bull.  Nintendo Power had published a code ( 007 373 5963 ) that skipped directly to the fight with Mr. Tyson but I was hopelessly able to make any progress in that fight at all.  I didn’t own a copy of the game so I was only able to play infrequently and I was never able to dedicate the time required to complete the game.

Thanks to the launch of Nintendo’s Virtual Console on the Wii U and their 30 cent game promotion I finally own a copy of Punch-Out.  The version on the Virtual Console is the updated version that replaced Mike Tyson with Mr. Dream but otherwise it’s exactly as I remembered it.  Anyone who has made any progress in Punch-Out knows that it as much a puzzle game as anything else.  The trick is to memorize your opponent’s patterns and to determine what the appropriate counter is.  For example, if your opponent winks his left eye it may indicate that you should dodge right, counter with a sock to the head and then follow up with a string of alternating body punches.  Determining these patterns can involve a lot of trial and error so I elected to use Gamefaqs to save some time.

Most of the early fighters don’t offer much challenge and I finished with them quickly.  Later enemies move a lot faster and I had to spend time to train myself to implement the appropriate series of counter punches without thinking.  I stubbornly refused to use state saves during fights but after getting to the last three fights I had to give up on this policy.  My children were not interested in watching me play this game so I frequently played it while they were using the TV to watch Fireman Sam.  This meant I often played without sound which made it hard to get into a rhythm against opponents.  My younger boy also has an irritating habit of sticking his toes into the various holes on my head if I happen to be sitting down which caused my concentration to suffer.

The final bout versus Mr. Dream is extremely difficult.  He can knock you out with a single punch, no matter how much health you have and he is much faster than previous opponents.  Fighting him with no sound and toddler toes in my ears is possibly the greatest video gaming challenge I have ever faced.  I resorted to creating a save state after every successful dodge and I STILL lost my first fight against him.  Losing to Mr. Dream knocks you back to the previous match versus Super Macho Man.  Getting knocked back a level after a loss is easily the worst part of 1980’s era video games.  After a second match versus Mr. Dream I was able to win by decision.

Punch-Out is hard.  The game itself is short but you’ll spend a lot of time losing matches while you memorize your opponents and determine their counters.  Gamefaqs and liberal use of state saving helped a lot but they could only get me so far.  Punch-Out still has a certain amount of retro charm but the difficulty ratchets up so quickly that only the truly dedicated will be able to complete it.

Pros

  • 30 cent promotion! (Which is sadly over now)

Cons

  • Very difficult.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 5/10
Length:  2 hours
System: Wii U (Virtual Console)
Genre: Sports / Puzzle

Mario Tennis Open

Date Completed: November 29th, 2012

Mairo Tennis Open Box Art

I listed the game on eBay before I started writing this blog post.  That should give you a pretty good idea what I thought of the game.

This is not the game I thought it would be.  It doesn’t play like a Mario sports game at all.  Imagine one of those soulless Korean game clones, throw in some Mario characters and you’ll have Mario Tennis Open.  My expectation was for a Tennis game featuring shells, bananas and bombs, ridiculous power shots and instead I was treated to sterile Tennis experience.

The game is played with either gyro controls + the touch screen or with the buttons.  If the gyro controls are enabled 3D is disabled and you are switched to a 3rd person over-the-shoulder view.  In the 3rd person view your field of vision is severely limited and I found it also impossible to score points at all.  I stuck with the standard button controls for the duration of my experience with this game.

There are six different button combinations you can press that perform six different shots.  If you get into position fast enough you can send back a charged shot that knocks your opponent back a bit.  Each charged shot has a counter shot and if you use the proper counter you won’t be knocked back as far.  In practice I found the lob shot to be completely useless and only the Flat Shot and Drop Shot would score with any regularity.

Mario Tennis Open Screenshot

The 6 shot panel is on the bottom screen.

Playing through each tournament took me between 5-10 minutes.  I won almost all of the tournaments without losing a single match.  The difficulty didn’t scale linearly.  When I hit the later tournaments I couldn’t win a match at all until I realized you can equip clothing that enhances your speed, power and technique.  After the equipping new gear I was winning again without any trouble.  It looks like there is a harder difficulty that unlocks after you defeat all the main tournaments but I didn’t enjoy the game enough to even bother trying it out.

There are a couple of extra modes to the game including a doubles tournament and some special modes like ring shots and even a mode where you play tennis through classic Super Mario Bros levels.  I found the doubles tournament to be too frustrating as my partner was completely useless.  The special modes could be fun and they provide you with coins to buy clothing upgrades at the clubhouse.  The clothing upgrade mechanic was clumsy so after my first round of clothing upgrades I never went in again.

The game play frustrations far outweighed the positives of this game for me.  I was bored while playing and was ready to sell it well before I finished.

Pros

  • Can’t think of any.

Cons

  • Boring.
Is it fun: No
Score: 4/10
Length: ~5 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Sports

Mario Sports Mix

Date Completed: Unknown

I was pretty sure that I had already wrote down my experience about this game but apparently I completely forgot about it.  I could probably check on the Wii Console when I finished playing the game but I just don’t have the energy at this moment.

My son and I really enjoyed playing this game together.  He had watched me play through Donkey Kong Country Returns and required that I choose Donkey Kong for all of the sports teams I was on.  In a weird twist several Final Fantasy characters are also present in the game.  Our standard team consisted of Donkey Kong and a Moogle

There are three difficulty modes – Normal, Hard and Very Hard.  Very Hard is only unlocked after beating everything on Hard.  The ONLY difficulty that is remotely difficult is Very Hard.  The Normal difficulty is so easy that the other team only managed to score points when I got bored and stopped paying attention.

Out of the four sports available but there are really only minor differences between them.  You’ll have your choice of Volleball, Dodgeball, Hockey and Basketball.  After mastering the tournaments in all of these you’ll unlock a surprise boss battle and Sports Mix mode.

In all the sports you can pick up coins during the match which add points to your total when you score.  There are also the normal Mario game items that you can use to mess with the other team. Shells, Bananas and Mushrooms can be used to smite your foes into oblivion.  You also have a powered up shot that is specific to the character you’re playing that will generally guarantee you will score.

Each of the sports is fun but way too easy.  I didn’t start losing matches until Very Hard difficulty and even then it was rarely.  There are a lot of unlockable characters and interesting levels but they have to be unlocked on EACH SPORT.  If you unlock Moogle on Volleyball you will not be able to use Moogle on Dodgeball.  SUPER LAME.  Luckily there is a code that can be entered that unlocks EVERYTHING.  After beating the game legitimately I immediately entered the code because there was no way I was going through the work to unlock everything myself.

The single player is pretty fun, and Final Fantasy characters are a great gimmick but this game is best as a party game.  Four player action and the normal out-of-control Mario action make it a great option to occupy you and your three closest friends next time they’re over for Nachos.

Pros

  • Four playable sports
  • Unlockable Final Fantasy characters

Cons

  • Not very challenging
  • Unlocking everything is a pain ( without using the code )
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 7/10
Length:  ~8 hours
System: Nintendo Wii
Genre: Sports