By Ethan . May 7, 2014 . 1:32pm
There have been some concerns expressed about the downloadable content plans Nintendo announced for Mario Golf: World Tour. I couldn’t comment on this aspect of the game at the time of the initial playtest as the online servers were not yet active. They are now, though, so as Siliconera’s World Tour playtester I’m here to follow up.
For those who haven’t kept up with each update from the publisher, here’s a summary of Mario Golf: World Tour’s DLC plans: 108 additional holes and four additional characters will be available for purchase. These are split into three packs each containing two 18-hole courses and one playable character. The first pack was available immediately at game launch and the next two become available at one month intervals following. Each pack costs $5.99 USD but the three can be purchased in advance in a Season Pass bundle for a flat $15.00. Anyone who purchases all three packs individually or the full season pass gains access to a fourth DLC character.
The first question that always needs to be asked when there’s DLC available for a game on launch day is: “Is there enough content in this game to justify the price without the additional downloadable content?” In the case of Mario Golf: World Tour, that answer is definitely yes.
There are 108 golf holes in the base game and only half of them are tied up 18-hole courses. 54 of the holes in World Tour are grouped as 9-hole courses with more outlandish Mario-themed scenery and hazards than the relatively straightforward 18-hole tournament greens. 108 holes is equivalent content to past Mario Golf games and by breaking those holes into smaller groupings, there is more variety than in some past installments here.
The second question is: “Does the game feel complete without the additional downloadable content?” This answer is a little bit more complicated.
Mario Golf: World Tour has two main modes, classic Mario Golf and the new Castle Club. Mario Golf holds most of the singleplayer content. There are a variety of challenges that teach players the tricks and shortcuts in each stage and this is also the mode where players unlock stages and characters (many of which are not available at game’s beginning). This mode is packed with content and is a lot of fun.
In the Castle Club, the player works through the three 18-hole courses in a tournament progression very similar to Mario Kart. This mode ends up feeling light because not only are there only three 18-hole courses but none of them are particularly challenging. It’s possible to “finish” Mario Golf: World Tour in a matter of hours, I saw the credits roll after only four. The game doesn’t do a good job of directing the player towards the meat of the game so I imagine many people will feel royally ripped off when they finish the Castle Club single player content.
I can understand why Nintendo split the content the way they did, though. By putting all the goofy 9-hole courses on the cart, they maximized variety for every buyer, and making the DLC content tournament greens makes sense, since there’s probably a lot of overlap between the players who will buy DLC and the players who will compete in online tournaments.
So yes, the Castle Club singleplayer content feels thin without more tournament greens on the cart. This could have been alleviated by either splitting a few of the 9-hole links into the DLC in return for a fourth tournament spot on hand, or even just by directing the player around the content on the cart better. I’m going to call this an issue with interface design and player guidance more than the publisher wickedly shorting consumers content in order to nickel-and-dime them. That hasn’t been Nintendo’s modus operandi in the past, so they get the benefit of the doubt from me here.
The third question that needs to be asked is: “Does the amount of content in the DLC warrant the price?” This answer is easy. You can double the amount of content in the game for a mere $15. That’s a steal! I’ve checked on the first two DLC courses and nothing about them suggests cut corners. They have their own unique music, their own terrain quirks, and they ramp up the difficulty from the tournament holes on the cart.
If you like Mario Golf then there’s really nothing but upside to World Tour’s DLC. I went in for the Season Pass.
Food for thought:
1. Of the additional characters available for download, Rosalina is the clear favorite. I’m less enthusiastic about Nabbit, though—I was kind of hoping he would be forgotten after New Super Luigi U.
2. Nintendo is currently hosting a tournament that lets players try some of the DLC greens without purchasing them. This tourney won’t always be active, but at least for early adopters it’s a nice option to try before you buy.
3. European customers get a way better Season Pass discount than North American buyers. In Europe, the three individual packs go for £5.39 each but the bundle costs only £10.79.