My Mii is exhausted. She’s panting and dragging herself through this course. Her stamina has completely run out. She’s playing golf.
If that’s not enough, a rather rude Birdo just ran up and shoved her from behind. And the clock is still ticking on this hole in Mario Golf: Super Rush, the Nintendo Switch sports title that launched on Friday — with an emphasis on the “rush.” Once my Mii’s stamina bar fills up a bit, she takes off at a brisk pace again, hustling to her ball.
This is just one of many chaotic scenes in Super Rush, a game that does its best to take all the relaxation out of a country club sport. It brings the usual gameplay loop of a golf video game: Pick the correct club, then line up and time shots based on distance, altitude, and the wind. But by emphasizing speed, Mario Golf: Super Rush significantly changes a video gaming genre staple.
In video game golf, after you hit your ball and see where it lands, your character is automatically transported to the spot where it landed. Not so in Mario Golf: Super Rush. You gotta run, not walk, to each ball. No golf cart for Mario, either — just hundreds and hundreds of yards of running. All this running means you have to manage a stamina bar, although you can grab heart power-ups around the hole to replenish your energy.
Generally speaking, golf should be a leisurely sport. Just the mention of it conjures images of perfectly manicured fairways, tranquil greens, and spectators standing in polite silence. The sport requires copious amounts of money and leisure time, making it suitable for the rich — usually doctors who take Wednesdays off for their afternoon foursome. It’s the epitome of self-indulgent pleasure.
Mario Golf: Super Rush, on the other hand, is anything but relaxing. It turns golf into a frenzied race. When you tee up, all four players in your group are firing away at the same time. Each hole starts like a Mario Kart race — with a countdown, no less. As you run to your ball in between shots, you can do a burst run and knock your opponents down. How un-golfly! Not only do you have to worry about the number of strokes, you’re also timed. You are constantly moving, and unless you’re really behind your competitors, you’re always on edge.
All of these elements take all the relaxation out of golf. Yet that’s why Super Rush represents video game golf at its best. After you get good at video game golf, it can be a little too leisurely. You just master the skill curve, learn how to estimate the shots, and then everything becomes really easy. But the frenetic pace of Super Rush always gives me a challenge.
Golf video games, in general, take a sport that’s very hard to get into and make it accessible. They don’t just do this by cutting down the time or the money needed to get into it; they make it more approachable by bringing out the joy in the sport. Games like Super Rush, and others like Golf With Your Friends and What the Golf?, are genuine delights — they take the joy of hitting shit with a stick and spin it into something more colorful, appealing, and yes, chaotic.