These days, Mario-focused sports games are fairly commonplace. Mario and his pals in the Mushroom Kingdom have taken on baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, and even Olympic events with ease. But it was 20 years ago that the crew took to the green for a round of Mario Golf.
Mario Golf for the Nintendo 64 debuted in the summer of 1999, and was developed by Camelot Software Planning for Nintendo. The game is actually the second in the overall Mario Golf series, though – the first was technically NES Open Tournament Golf, which featured Mario and his friends in a very differently-styled golf game in 1991.
Players controlled one of the main Super Mario characters – Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, or Wario – or they could also play as one of several original characters that Camelot created for the game, such as Plum, Maple, Sonny, Harry, or Charlie. None of the original characters have appeared in a game since Mario Golf (save for Plum, who cameoed as a collectible item in the Smash Bros. games). Mario Golf simplified golf mechanics and made the sport easy to pick up and play for newcomers because of that, but still managed to feature surprisingly deep gameplay thanks to how each individual character controlled differently.
Mario Golf also had a Game Boy Color version that released a couple months after the N64 edition came out. The handheld edition featured more role-playing aspects to it – given Camelot’s history as a developer of RPGs, the inclusion of these elements makes some degree of sense. The games could be connected to each other, with GBC characters able to be imported and gain experience in the N64 version of the game via the Transfer Pak.
Both versions of the game were critically acclaimed, and the Mario Golf series has since gone on to include Toadstool Tour, Advance Tour and World Tour.