I recently replayed #MarioGolf for the first time since I was about seven years old. My love for the game is so deep that I dedicated a homework assignment to one of its game modes. My inherent love for golf games was directly inspired by it, which translated into my continued love for the game so many years later. The essence of classic games is that no matter the era, one can have great fun playing them, and for me Mario Golf remains the cream of the crop.
Following my revisit of Mario Golf, I took it upon myself to replay Super Smash Bros., going from beginning to end for both games and unlocking everything I possibly could. By the end of each game, it was clear to me what the superior title was of the two. But based on user score comparisons, I seem to be in the minority.
According to Metacritic and GameFaqs, the user score for Super Smash Bros. is much higher than that of Mario Golf (though I acknowledge not many users rated Mario Golf on Metacritic). However, critic consensus agrees that Mario Golf is the better title. I suppose my critical aspirations would fit well enough, huh?
Not without reason, of course, would I make a claim that one game is clearly better than the other. I’ve observed a number of different things — both objectively and subjectively relative to people’s expectations of fun — that give Mario Golf the edge. Some of these things are directly correlated to my own biases, as is typical for any reviewer, but I’ve tried to limit the amount of ego-inflated elitism that one might expect from a comparison piece such as this one.
1. There’s More To Do
In Super Smash Bros., players have the option to play in training, classic, bonus stages 1 and 2, and vs. mode. You might counter that players may check out the character profiles in the options menu, but that’ll take little out of their time overall. When replaying Smash Bros., I played the game in two sittings — both spanning an hour — before I unlocked every character. After that, I felt no motivation to continue playing, as the only other mode worth tackling was vs. mode, and that’s a lot more fun with other people. It says a lot about a game when after two hours, there’s little more for the player to do. It's a huge risk, relying on the gameplay alone to enticed the player to keep playing after every goal’s been checked off the list. In this case, it isn’t enough.
In Mario Golf, one can play tournament, training, ring shot, get character, speed golf, mini golf, and a number of multiplayer modes. Not only does it have three more modes than with Smash Bros., but each mode takes longer to complete. By the end of a session with Mario Golf, hours could have gone by without a second thought — so long as you haven’t #ragequit before that.
When normal golf gets too stale, one can participate in mini golf, where putting is the only factor and the courses are giant numbers. This was the mode I felt inclined to write about for my school assignment. And since then, it’s also become my least favorite mode in the entire game.
A common struggle nowadays with games is money spent versus amount of time you can wring out of a game. With these two games, Mario Golf is the clear winner in regard to long-term #replayability. Unlocking everything takes anywhere from 20–30 hours, while Smash Bros. has everything wrapped up in a few hours.
2. It’s More Challenging!
I’m not saying Smash Bros. isn’t difficult, but considering the work it takes to unlock everything, it’s a breeze compared to Mario Golf. The most the former requires the player to do to unlock is simply play the game. Unlocking Ness is probably the hardest challenge, as the player has to go through normal difficulty in classic mode with three lives and beat it without continuing (which I did on my first try).
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Unlocking #Bowser in Mario Golf took me umpteen tries, with the winning round requiring me to land four eagles in 18 holes in order to beat him by a single stroke. There’s no adjusting the difficulty in the options menu, either. You’re going to have to play the game of your life to survive and it’s all meticulous planning and taking advantage of the weather conditions. It can be frustrating, for sure, but once you beat it, your sense of accomplishment rises like a weight being lifted off your foot. I’ll say this, though: The final course is nothing short of garbage. So many rough patches and bunkers placed throughout each hole, screwing up is a likely scenario no matter how careful your shot is.
There’s a point where a game can be too frustrating to call it competitively challenging, and Mario Golf surpasses this to some degree in later portions. However, Smash Bros. doesn’t feel all that challenging at all, especially considering what it requires to unlock everything. Without that challenge, games can feel like a monotonous drag and a waste of time with limited fun.
3. It Requires More Precise Player Input
This is probably the most subjective point, as one could argue that it's more characteristic of what’s enjoyable to some more than others. Super Smash Bros. isn’t simply a button-masher with results better suited to those who blend the controller for a minute or two. Still, as a fighting game, players can take advantage of one or two moves to decimate the competition without a second thought. It feels almost like hammering a single button over and over in order to win. Again, not usually the case, but it tends to happen more than you might expect.
One could also argue that Mario Golf is simply golf, so its controls don’t have to be so varied, to which I would agree. Even so, to have the buttons be so limited, yet so indicative of the outcome of the match, feels so much more controlled. I enjoy not having to worry about all sorts of different button maneuvers and outdated tactics improved by subsequent sequels, when I could just have a near-mastered limit of control available on my own accord. Only drawback to this is that it becomes difficult to top in ensuing sequels. In any case, my love of tight controls in #videogames shines through brightly here.
I could make other arguments, but they’re more nitpicks about Smash Bros. than anything worth making a valid, objective point about. With my own interpretation in mind, why is it that Super Smash Bros. is so much more beloved? I’d argue a few different things, such as, "Mario Golf is just golf," and, "Super Smash Bros. has a larger cast of #Nintendo characters from all sorts of titles."
Fighting games in general are far more popular than golf games, with the latter offering a narrowed demographic. Does this mean we’re all a bunch of violence-loving savages? A post for another day. And who doesn’t love crossovers? If the #Avengers is any indication, people go gaga over characters within the same universe interacting with one another.
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#Nostalgia is also very likely in determining the popularity of one title over another. I grew up more with Super Smash Bros. than Mario Golf, but I’m able to distinguish the quality between the two with a clear mind. In the end, Mario Golf has given me a lot more trial and error, frustration, and tear-inducing joy than Super Smash Bros. ever did. The feeling of enjoyment really isn’t that close. There’s more to do, more to endure, and more to strategize for. It’s just golf, yes, but it has that Nintendo charm and polish that gives it more appeal than others within the same genre. That appeal trumps even others on the same system.
Which game do you prefer — Mario Golf or Super Smash Bros.?