I’m not sure why this is a good game. I enjoy it a great deal, but I’m not sure why.

The purpose of this post is to help me understand why it’s a good game and talk about it. There are many reasons to enjoy Toadstool Tour, but the game overall isn’t anything groundbreaking or revolutionary. The graphics are just okay, and the overall feel leans simple and childlike. This isn’t a bad thing, but it still doesn’t explain why I keep coming back to the game. There are alternate game modes that are interesting, but I end up playing the normal tournaments.

The normal route of play is to play through the tournaments and be the top golfer in each of them. Once you’ve won a tournament on a course the next course is unlocked. You can use any character at the start to do this. As you progress through the tournaments, you receive challenge invitations from random characters. You can use any character other than the challenger to complete these. The challenge is to beat them in a one-on-one on a certain course. Once you beat them, (which can be surprisingly difficult based on your character selection) you unlock the star version of the challenger character. The star version of a character gives you slightly better stats and more range for your shots.

So that’s the general completion route of the game. Win tournaments, challenge characters, unlock their better versions. It’s very straightforward. This isn’t the type of game I usually enjoy, though, so what’s going on? After some inspection, the reason I like this game is because of the crossover between amateur and expert. When you’re starting out, the mechanics for hitting the ball are essentially a timing game. You press A to start your shot, then press A again when the line is right at the top (or at the desired marker) to automatically take your shot. This is the weird part. On the shot power bar where the line begins, there are two markers above and below the starting point. One is blue, and the other is red. When you automatically take a shot, the game calculates a percent error that the shot will be off. If you do the timing very well, SOMETIMES the error will be zero percent. This is only sometimes, however, and becomes more difficult to get lucky with during the harder tournaments. As a result, using the auto shot can be frustratingly inaccurate, especially for short holes where the likelihood of a hole in one is greater.

This is a great system because it makes the barrier to entry low for beginners. You can just use auto shots and enjoy the game until you become gradually more frustrated and aware of the lack of accuracy. This is good because the system for beginner and skilled players is accessible through the same interface. Instead of pressing A at the top of your swing, you also have the option to press B. If you do this, the shot goes into manual mode. The indicator speeds back down towards where it began and you have a tight window to press A or B (or a combination thereof if you’d like to add spin to the ball) and finish the shot. This takes the error calculation from the auto shots out of the equation and replaces it with your skillfulness in timing. This system of manual skill shots is wonderful because some shots are more crucial than others. For a long drive, being off by a few percent while using auto doesn’t seem like a lot until you look at the high wind speed and find yourself at the bottom of a lake, or missing a warp pipe, or accidentally hitting a bouncy mushroom. There are many issues that come from using auto shots all the time… On the other hand, when doing short approach shots or putts it’s often not worth the risk to do a shot manually, nor does it improve the shot very much… For these cases, I often use an auto shot out of convenience, and also because the error window is much tighter to get a good result.

This system is fantastic because it allows a natural progression for the player as their skills increase. I believe this is why Mario Golf is so successful. It’s part chance at first but becomes more skill-based as you play. This system, combined with the fun music and repetitive (but encouraging) voice over make for a great combination of cheesiness, charm, and replayability. I hope for the new Mario Golf game they maintain this careful balance. There is a high likelihood of this since Camelot, the same company that made Toadstool Tour, is in charge of it. I’m excited to play it, and the Speed Golf game mode looks like a fun twist.