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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 July, 2004, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Let's Play: Mario Golf
By Alex Trickett

MARIO GOLF - TOADSTOOL TOUR
Format: GameCube
Price: 39.99
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Golf arcade

Mario is no stranger to golf - he hacked a few rounds on the Gameboy and a few more on the Nintendo 64.

But he has refined his game and taken it to new heights on the GameCube.

Rather than follow the lead of the Tiger Woods simulation series, Mario sensibly opts for pure arcade fun on his "Toadstool Tour".

And he delivers it in style with the help of much-loved friends.

There is plenty to keep the interest in one-player mode, even if it takes a while to get in the swing of things in tournament mode - where the first few courses are far too easy.

Every victory unlocks another 18 holes, however, and with each comes new challenges in the form of warp pipes, piranha plants and chain chomps - just the sort of things you would expect to encounter on the local municipal links.

As well as opening up new courses, success in all competitive game modes can unlock new characters to add to the original cast, which includes brother Luigi, Bowser and Donkey Kong.

On Toadstool Tour, as with most sports titles, two players can mean twice the fun.

VERDICT
Graphics: 90%
Playability: 85%
Sound: 75%
Lastability: 85%
Overall: 85%

Not only can you go head-to-head with your mates, but you can try to put them off with the cheeky taunt feature just as they are about to attempt a crucial putt.

Which brings us to gameplay.

While less sophisticated in its depth than the Tiger Woods series, Mario Golf cleverly caters for advanced players and beginners alike by featuring automatic and manual swing techniques.

Automatic swings are solid, if unspectacular, eliminating the wild slices and hooks, while manual mode leaves room for shot-making disasters but allows pinseekers to impart spin.

The music is very "Mario" throughout, which can take its toll on the ears after a while.

But the graphics are always big, bright and well rendered.

Each character has his own style and reacts to birdies and bogeys with an over-the-top show of "Mario World" emotion - Waluigi being a personal favourite.

That is exactly what you should expect and desire from a golf game that may not please the plus-four purists.

If you like pure simulation stick with world number one Tiger Woods, but if you are ready for a wackier round of golf, let your favourite Italian plumber come to the fore.




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