When it comes to a game of links, look no further than Camelot and its excellent series of games starring Nintendo's mascot. With easy-to-pick-up gameplay, the MARIO GOLF series has had great success with gamers who just want to get out and play some golf.
The system is pretty simple, pick your clubs, range, what kind of shot, and then if you're feeling into it, set the power, the accuracy and what kind of spin, as well as the impact point of the ball. Wait, that's simple? Well actually, yes it is. It only takes a round or so to get used to if you haven't played before, and it's all laid out well. It requires some skill, but not too much as to not be fun.
If there's a single problem with the gameplay, it revolves around the overly simplified putting mechanisms. It's just too simple to make 30-40 ft. putts and I do it regularly. This could use a bit of a change in a future version, but for now, it works and it will do until the next iteration.
The big addition in ADVANCE TOUR is that of a full-on story mode that plays out like an RPG. You can wander the clubhouse, talk to people, head around to the different courses, and yes, you do level up and increase your stats. You have to do this for you and your partner (for anyone who has played MARIO TENNIS you have a partner who plays doubles with you and who needs leveling up probably more than you do).
This system kind of feels tacked on. After a few hours I just started accessing tournaments from the menu instead of wandering to the actual courses, and I occasionally stopped in to let people praise me for my latest accomplishment. This mode isn't really important I just want to play golf, and the story mode allows me to make a great golfer and have a good challenge. I'm glad it is here, but I wish the clubhouse portion had more usefulness.
Building your character is useful though, as your characters get better and more useful you can import them over to TOADSTOOL TOUR on the GameCube to rock those courses. It's a nice little feature and makes for some intense competitions between friends.
Otherwise the game plays out with all of the standard modes like skins play, stroke play, doubles play, slots play, ring play, etc. There's nothing out of the ordinary here, it's all what you've come to expect. Still, that's darn good and will give you a large chunk of gameplay for the money you spend on it.
The graphics and sound are both solid. I play many of my GBA games with music though, but if you did choose to listen to the in-game stuff, it wouldn't drive you too mad. Plus you still get all of the cool taunts. The game looks pretty nice though, and represents the franchise well.
MARIO GOLF: ADVANCE TOUR is perfect for anyone who wants a game of golf on the road, or who just loves the franchise. It's a good addition to the series that sinks the birdie putt without a problem.