Nintendo has the best array of first-party franchises in the business. Nintendo also knows how to milk those franchises for all that they're worth. That's how Mario got to star in almost every sports game Nintendo ever produced despite that fact that Fat Bastard from Austin Powers playing soccer would be more believable. I say "almost every sports game" because the Super Nintendo got a mini golf game that instead starred one of the most ignored characters in the Big N's portfolio Kirby.
Kirby's Dream Course is a game that defies description. It can be considered a game of mini golf, but the set-up is very different. There are also plenty of platform and puzzle elements making the game difficult to categorize. Each hole you launch Kirby (who serves as the ball) at a group of enemies placed around the course. Making contact is enough to knock them out. When only one remains, that enemy turns into the hole for you to sink Kirby and move on the next one. Certain enemies give Kirby special powers like the ability to jump or stop dead at will.
The set-up and stage designs are well-done. The game plays from an isometric viewpoint making it easy to plot your shots. The course layouts allow for numerous different approaches to improve scores, particularly when special powers come into play. Medals can be earned which unlock special treats like mirrored stages. The visuals are bright and colorful, and the music is chipper, though the number of tunes is distressingly limited.
Unfortunately, the mechanics just can't keep up. The targeting reticule is sluggish, and the shot projector line gets confusing if a shot could possibly bounce off a wall. The physics are rather wonky which becomes a problem when flying enemies come in later on. Kirby has a four tomato health meter which loses a tomato with each shot, regaining tomatoes with each enemy knocked out or when the hole is reached. It gets very frustrating when slightly too much power makes Kirby bounce out of the hole (which happened to me at least 30 times) or an angle being off by one degree makes you miss a target. Most Kirby games are too easy; this one gets too frustrating.
Kirby's Dream Course is a game that gets plenty of things right, but the issues are large enough to keep me from recommending it. Only gamers dedicated to improving will ever see the wilder courses, and the Kirby faithful would probably be turned off by the frustration factor. If things were eased up just slightly, this mini golf mash-up would have been a dream come true.