With today being Independence Day in the United States and hot on the heels of the release of Mario Tennis Aces for the Nintendo Switch, it seemed to be a good time to look back at one particular entry in the Mario sports pantheon — one in which the company star is dressed for the occasion, no less.
While not as obscure as some titles that may interest the Mario fan who simply must have everything the plumbing protagonist has ever set a pixel in, NES Open Tournament Golf might be easily overlooked by some due to the lead character’s absence from the game’s name itself. Nonetheless, Mario once again grabs his bag of clubs and hits the links in this 1991 release for the eponymous Nintendo Entertainment System.
In terms of gameplay, there’s nothing fancy here: No sand traps filled with Pokeys, Piranha Plants in the rough, or Boss Bass in the water hazards. It’s just pure golf, plain and simple.
That isn’t to say there aren’t some Mario touches here for fans, but they are a bit more subdued, relatively speaking. Mario and Luigi are the stars-and-stripes-clad golfers for Players 1 and 2, respectively. In a bizarre twist of sorts, their caddies are of the royal variety: Peach serves as Mario’s, while Daisy makes her first appearance following her Super Mario Land debut — and her first time in a color video game, at that. Toad puts in a tiny cameo if you go out of bounds, Donkey Kong tells you how much money you’ve earned after a round, and there’s even a small Monty Mole from Super Mario World on the box art (seen above).
Not only does NES Open Tournament Golf feature a nice bit of fanservice for an otherwise ordinary golf game, but it’s been paid back in more recent years as well.
In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, one of Mario’s alternate costumes is none other than his star-spangled NES Open Tournament Golf attire. You’ve got to imagine those spikes on the bottom of his shoes provide an added bit of “ouch” for his opponents.
Likewise, the more recent Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch is absolutely filled to the brim with different outfits that call back to various points throughout Mario’s history, and the Golf Outfit (image courtesy of Kantopia) is no exception.
With that, it’s pretty clear that if you’re a fan of everything Mario, then NES Tournament Golf is a must-have for your collection.