Mario Golf: Advance Tour - GBA

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Viewed: 2D Combination Genre:
Sport: Golf
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Camelot Soft. Co.: Nintendo
Publishers: Nintendo (GB/US)
Released: 21 Jun 2004 (US)
17 Sept 2004 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 3+
Accessories: GameCube Game Boy Player
Connectivity: Link Cable, GC/GBA Link Cable


When it comes to the Mario universe of games, most Nintendo loyalists and even a few, more casual gamers have a particular fondness of the Mario Golf series. Though the plumber from Brooklyn has had his own golf game for many years, he really hit virtual golfing stardom when Mario Golf appeared on Nintendo 64. Several years on, Nintendo built on this success with Toadstool Tour, the highly acclaimed GameCube offering. And now there's Advance Tour, a smart golfing sim for the GBA complete with Cube connectivity and role-playing elements.

Playing as either Neil or Ella, both golf students of the Mushroom Kingdom, your goal is to reach the upper echelons of golfing stardom by taking part in local tournaments and gaining experience as you progress.

The Mushroom Kingdom 'hub' is a whole area in itself. It plays host to a multitude of tournaments and NPC challenges, and will be your home when you're not competing on Advance Tour's brilliantly designed courses. As either character, you'll begin the adventure as a novice golfer who can gain experience in the same way you would an RPG, by mastering your swing and putting your skills to the test in competitions.

The play mechanic behind Advance Tour is very much traditional, and sees players setting the power meter for distance and 'snapping' the bar at the bottom for control and accuracy. Shots are taken from a third-person perspective, which then sees the camera pan out into a birds-eye view, enabling players to see exactly where the ball lands.

Early courses have few obstacles, whereas advanced courses - unlocked by winning tournaments - see trees and bunkers placed in deliberately awkward spots. But the rewards for success in Advance Tour are plentiful. 'Level ups' afford players the option to strengthen specific characteristics of their chosen golfer, such as power and control. Furthermore, players armed with Toadstool Tour and a link-cable can transfer their character information across to the GameCube version to participate in six other courses.

The visual style, presentation, and even commentator voice in Advance Tour is in keeping with the rest of the series, and is generally pleasant and easy to navigate. The game looks great, plays well and is very, very addictive.