Mario Golf’s Fun, But Battle Golfer Yui Blows Shit Up

Mario Golf’s Fun, But Battle Golfer Yui Blows Shit Up

A collage shows the cover of Battle Golfer Yui alongside the game's logo and artwork showing a man wielding a gun in front of a worried girl.

Image: Sega / Kotaku

I recently went from zero rounds of golf to two. The first one, Mario Golf: Super Rush, arrived on Switch last week, while the second, Fighting Golfer Yui, released for the Mega Drive (it’s the Sega Genesis for my American compatriots) in 1991 and has never left Japan. And while they share a host of similarities, the opposing emotions these games present and evoke towards the sport make the two even more compelling when played side by side.

That’s not to say that either game is a faithful recreation of real golf – I can’t remember the last time Tiger Woods engulfed his club under electricity to avoid an explosive environmental hazard – but it’s obvious that Mario Golf has at least a passing fondness for the 500 – a year-old hobby. Classic characters like Mario, Peach, and Bowser come to Super Rush dressed in their best Sunday clothes, the Toads enforce a strict, skill-based membership hierarchy, and the whole game takes place in a country club with sprawling grounds. would be unnecessary. swallow the decrease in our planet’s water resources.

No, the most obvious differences between the two games’ views on sports are tucked away in their respective story modes. Mario Golf: Super Rush is very pro-golf in that large swathes of the single-player adventure deal with improving or saving the gargantuan club, and it ends with a showdown against a snowman-like Ice King. of snow that froze several areas vital for the course to function. Super Rush treats golf as something to be cherished, a pastime that nurtures the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom in a way that the sport of the real world, criticized for its exclusivity and lack of diversity, maybe not.

Battle Golfer Yui takes a different approach. We are introduced to the heroine Yui Mizuhara through an introductory video that sees her rescued from Darth Hazzard, an evil organization plotting to take over the world with top athletes known as “combat golfers”. The game frequently uses this term in reference to Yui and his opponents, but it’s never clear exactly how the leader of Dark Hazzard, a creepy old fart known only as Professor G, plans to use them in these ploys.

Either way, Yui is saved from the process of sort of turning regular golfers into combat golfers by a mysterious man wielding an SMG who literally tells her nothing about what’s going on. Yui, alone and confused, decides to take part in a local golf tournament hosted by a group called the Hazzard Foundation (oh shit!) From there, Battle Golfer Yui follows her eponymous protagonist as she takes on a host of opponents. strange and growing in power as a combat golfer.

Unlike the campaign in Mario Golf: Super Rush, Battle Golfer Yui professes no deep love for golf. Sometimes he can even be downright hostile to her. Everyone Yui faces on the links – from a perverted teenager who lashes out at Yui by degrading him to a fake sentai superhero with a weirdly realistic face – is a combat golfer himself, though unlike our heroine, they have been brainwashed to the point of bondage Professor G. It is only by losing a match against Yui that they are saved from this fate, and they use this newfound freedom to teach him how to perform their special Mario Golf type shots. While details on how and why are scarce, golf in the world of Battle Golfer Yui is described as a tool of oppression, capable of stripping people of their humanity and turning them into super-soldiers with power. to subjugate the rest of the world. No one in Battle Golfer Yui plays golf for fun.

The story culminates in one final match against Ran, who has been masquerading as Yui’s insignificant caddy throughout most of the game. In the time since Yui’s escape, her friend has been transformed into Dark Hazzard’s most powerful battle golfer, a chilling reminder of the fate that might have befallen Yui had she not been rescued. After defeating Ran, Yui can choose to either blow a magic flute she received from taking out Professor G (yes, magic, because Battle Golfer Yui never really decides if it wants to be science fiction or fantasy) or break the mind-controlling instrument. The former results in a game over that sees Yui become the new leader of Dark Hazzard, while the latter frees Ran from Professor G’s influence. Choose correctly, and the two athletes embrace, finally reunited as friends. That’s when shit gets dark.

As soon as the two touch, Yui’s black flame combines with Ran’s shadow lightning, somehow setting off a bomb planted under the country club by the man who saved Yui at the beginning of the game. This results in a massive explosion that (yay) wipes Dark Hazzard’s headquarters off the map, but also (oh my god) kills 20,000 people. Battle Golfer Yui closes on the two friends riding upward in an elevator, watching a city skyline as the credits roll. It’s ambiguous as to whether this scene takes place before or after the grisly events of the game (or even outside the realm of metaphor, for that matter), but one thing is left abundantly clear: Golf is bad and ruins lives.

Battle Golfer Yui is a solid golfing game with a lot of similarities to the Mario Golf series, but Super Rush, benefitting from three decades of game design progress and far stronger hardware, plays better in practically every way. And while I fell in love with its old-school Mega Drive visuals and bizarre, barely lucid storylines, Battle Golfer Yui’s preoccupation with menu-based conversations turns downtime between matches into frustrating exercises in trying to choose the right dialogue options in the right order to proceed to the next game. These moments follow no rhyme or reason, sometimes asking that you select the same topic multiple times to get anywhere. It’s baffling, even with the useful english translation patch.

Still, playing Battle Golfer Yui in tandem with Mario Golf: Super Rush has helped me to enjoy them both better. When I wanted to play a more mechanically sound game of golf I turned to Mario and his friends, and when I wanted to vicariously destroy elitist sport as a cute, animated girl, I started the old Mega Drive (wink) and I smashed my way through conversations en route to this surprisingly gruesome conclusion. As someone who has long viewed golf – at least as it operates now – a waste of land and water resources on a planet that is rapidly losing both, oscillating between a game that respects many of its traditions and a another who ended up wallowing in his destruction provided me with a new perspective on what they were both trying, at least in my mind, to achieve.

And, hey, even if you think this is all bullshit, Battle Golfer Yui is still a wonderfully weird game that sadly never got a chance to shine outside of Japan. Of course, that doesn’t hold the candle, well, just about every episode in the Mario Golf series mechanically. But I’m going to take a quirky yet surprisingly serious story about bringing an evil version of real sport to its knees a little less evil during another tasty adventure to save a golf course any day of the week.


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