RELEASED: April 2004
AVAILABLE ON: GBA
DEVELOPER(S): Camelot Software Planning
Golf games have existed on Nintendo consoles since the beginning of time; a game simply entitled Golf was released on Famicom in 1984, and it was one of the first games for the NES. That game already starred one of the many incarnations of Mario. The real Mario, as we've grown to know him, got his first golf game in 1991 in the form of NES Open Tournament Golf. In 1999, Mario Golf was released on the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy Color. Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour for the GameCube followed in 2003, and in 2004, the Mario Golf sub-franchise was brought to the Game Boy Advance with Mario Golf: Advance Tour. This game differed from all that had come before by mixing traditional sports with role-playing - except for the Game Boy Color game, which already had some RPG elements in it. Critics loved the game and christened it one of the best sports games ever; as I said before in the case of Mario Tennis: Power Tour, I came here for a sports event, not a half-assed RPG, but being the first full-blooded hybrid in Camelot's awkward series of sports RPG's, Mario Golf: Advance Tour is not quite as unbalanced and annoying as its previously reviewed "sequel".
Down in a hole
Neil and Ella are among the newest members of the Marion Golf Club. They're training under the watchful eye of a group of pros, aiming to some day equal the skills of the greatest golfer alive: Mario.
|Yeah, sure, but where's the golf course?|
Then, another essential thing I love: the golf game in Wii Sports. Yes, I know Wii Sports was released in 2006, which means it should not be compared to any golf game with traditional control, it's unfair - but it's also damn true that it revolutionized my personal, as well as many other people's take on video golf. Golf has never been enough of a physical sport to make a real impact as a video game, if you ask me. Golf games have always been fun to some extent - I remember long sessions with Golf on the NES - but after Wii Sports came along with the real, physical swings of the club, all the old golf games haven't really done it for me. Wii Sports pointed out all the flaws in old golf games. Golf is simply a sport in which you need to have a true feel of the game. After having a gazillion tournaments with my friends actually standing up, measuring the wind and its potential effect on my game, swinging the imaginary club and cracking it in half against my knee after failing the most generic putt, it feels awkward to backtrack in time and do all of these things by using traditional action buttons of a traditional controller - or in this case, an even more awkward Game Boy Advance unit. ...And, once again, Mario Golf: Advance Tour is a damn role-playing game rather than a no-frills sports title. Not the most exciting trip for me to take, but all things considered, it's not exactly an awful one either.
|Ah, here we go. But who's the dork?|
The fact is that I don't care much for golf as a real-life sport. To me, it's always been the game of rich, self-absorbed, old, cigar smoking corporate leaders rather than one I would ever be interested in. Like I said before, I've played a lot of video games based on golf, and Mario Golf: Advance Tour turns out one of the best of its traditional kind... once it lets you play golf. The role-playing parts of the game are not quite as lengthy or dull as those of Mario Tennis: Power Tour, but they're still very much detached from what I expected out of this game - what I expected was what it says on the cover: "GOLF". Well, this game's box also clearly states "Role-Playing Golf!". The Story Mode has a decent pace and it's much more balanced than the Story Mode in the "sequel" - that's all I'm going to note about it, I'm just interested in what should be the game's sole purpose, and enjoying a straightforward game of golf, one should steer away from the Story Mode and head into Quick Game.
|Now, this is more like it!|
Mario Tennis: Power Tour was not too comfortable to play from any angle, at least not for me, but Mario Golf: Advance Tour, aside from the completely useless and out-of-place RPG elements, is a fairly entertaining game of its kind. It's way more of a sports game than its spiritual sequel, and a well-designed one when it comes to the actual golf interface. I'm probably never going to play the game again, but at least it left a better aftertaste than the tennis game.
GRAPHICS : 8.5
SOUND : 7.3
PLAYABILITY : 7.5
LIFESPAN : 7.0
CONCLUSION : 7.3
a.k.a. Mario Golf: GBA Tour (JAP)