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Golf - 3DS VC Review

Game Info

3DS Virtual Console | Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now | $2.99 / £2.70
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15th May 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

I've always found quite a bit to appreciate about the average golf game, so even though I already had NES Open Tournament Golf in my 3DS library, I wondered if this Game Boy title might have a different style to offer. Far be it for me to underestimate a game because of its name, I was a tad surprised by Golf's overall presentation of the contained gameplay. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, but whatever the case may be, the following question arises: Will other early adopters who already own a golf game they got as a freebie feel enthusiastic about this retro title? Because it's hard to say exactly, it's best if you make up your own mind as you continue reading this review.

    Golf features two courses with a total of 36 holes in all; not a whole lot, that's true, but don't be quick to assume that there's a lack of content here. Just like any good tradesman, no golfer can achieve success without his own assortment of tools to work with, and so you have your usual supply of clubs to choose from as you venture to the different holes. Just in saying that, therein lies a point about experience that should be brought out. Unless you have, in the back of your mind, an internal legend of what each club's abbreviation is, you might have difficulty just choosing appropriate clubs for what each situation dictates. Confusion is created within casual players who may be unfamiliar with the symbols used for each of the clubs. PT is for the putter, that much is obvious. But what about PW? And SW? Do you know what those stand for? The game expects that you do coming into this.

    The effect this environment has on being able to exercise discernment is actually furthered by the fact that there is absolutely no indication of just how much distance you might be able to pull off with each club. So it's not just about knowing which club to use, but also how far on the needle to go when you're about 100m away from the green. Thankfully, Nintendo listed the average distances in the digital manual provided with the download. This acts as your textbook, if you will, to understand just how much of an impact each tool can potentially have on your shot. Even still, for much of your initial playthroughs, it'll be more about trial and error than anything else. You might even have to write down the distances achieved on full blast just to have a clear idea of how to tailor your shots. Although Nintendo did players a favor by making these stats available outside of the game, it goes without saying that this is quite impractical when stacked up against other golf games that have come out since then. NES Open Tournament Golf is a lot better on that point alone, so that's already a strike against the game.

When out on the field, you can use the +Control Pad or the Circle Pad to control a crosshair that will simultaneously adjust the positioning of your shot. Pressing the B Button allows you to change viewpoints to an aerial view of the entire hole or a close-up of the green. Starting and stopping the power meter is pretty easy, all done with presses of the A Button as the needle reaches the right spots on the meter. When doing your very first shot, there will be two black bars on the meter -- one to the farthest edge on the left, and one about three-quarters of the way towards the right. Stopping the needle within these two areas will produce a Super Shot, but again this can only be done at the very beginning of the round. Also, one caveat to using the long-distance drivers is the smaller black bar you have to work with, so that's something to keep in mind. Additionally, the height of your shot can be affected by pressing and holding Up or Down for high or low shots.

    One thing I can say about the various hole layouts is that they present some pretty crazy hazards. This is a game that brings it in terms of challenge, and the hole design is just one area where the game demonstrates that it doesn't mess around. Having said that, there are concerns to be had in areas where the aforementioned issues seem to compound troubles the average player would have just in trying to meet the par requirements. Again, judging distance when in close proximity to the green proves to be more fussy than it should be. Don't be surprised if you find yourself flying over the green multiple times before you actually land on it. Putting is similarly difficult to judge at times, even with the use of triangles and arrows to indicate the slopes on what is depicted as a flat plane. As a matter of fact, overshooting is just as common as doing the opposite of that. I also found the ball was jittery whenever it missed the hole by a small margin, while it rolled right over the hole as though it weren't even there whenever you would use too much power. All things considered, there's quite a bit to handle and it's for this reason that the game really distances itself from some of the other golf games that have come along and presented accessibility in ways that this game fails to perform.

Even despite the best of intentions, some aspects to the game put a damper on your ability to succeed; it actually does so in a way that isn't always a reflection of accurate principles. I thought that the wind got pretty crazy in the degree to which it affected your shot. I can't see how 8mph wind would produce the same effects as what I felt was actually closer to double that amount. It was a bit ridiculous to me to see how far the ball would travel at times, even with the wind being a factor. I recall an instance where, after the ball had landed on the green, it had almost come to a complete stop, but the second it touched the sloping parts, it was as if there were a lump in the ground; the ball went rolling all the way to the edge of the green.

    Here's another example. I had attempted a shot while in the rough area and the ball was about to fly over the hole, but it instead collided with the pole and traveled downwards as though it were clinging to a sticky surface. Despite that, the ball still fell inches away from the hole. And just to drive that nail in, there was one more instance -- during a putt this time -- where the ball literally bounced right off the pole and came all the way back to my original position, and this was while I was a fair distance away (at least 10 yards) and without applying a great deal of force. It was kind of embarrassing to see all these things take place since they likely would not be taking place in a refined golf title, and while I do admit the game did make me smirk a couple times as a result, the level of frustration caused in these cases was a bit much to bear.

It might not have seemed like the most fitting word choice if I said this earlier on, but Golf is, in all honesty, a pretty feisty game. There's a surprisingly big learning curve that makes putting considerable time into this a must before you're able to enjoy yourself. Prior to this point, one can, as has been discussed, expect frustration to ensue over the inability to judge distance effectively and the challenge that stems from the way the layouts are designed. You can probably speed this process up a bit by utilizing the game's hidden Training Mode, accessed by holding Down on the Title Screen as you press the Start Button. The track availability might not sound like a whole lot, that's true. But with so much to get the hang of and stuff to put up with, the learning curve proves to be a bigger concern than the price evaluation. 

    What works in the game's favor is that it's actually quite charming. Mario has somewhat comical animations where it looks like he's twisting his back as he goes for the follow-through. Then again, it's interesting just seeing him in a real golf uniform period. The automatic changes in viewpoint that take place as you get close to the green did make me laugh one or two times, as I saw how the ball I shot ended up flying over the green (rather swiftly, too) and landing smack dab into a nearby water hazard. Musically, there are some fun little jingles that play during gameplay, and thankfully, depending on the circumstances you're in (e.g., ball lands in a bunker) the music will change to reflect that. Birdies are both encouraged and celebrated, and the caddy that seemingly follows you around (as introduced in the opening and closing scenes of each game) tries to offer a bit of morale support. When it's not trying to have its own sense of personality, realistic noises are also heard through much of the experience.

    Golf is not really for casual fans of games belonging to this genre. Dedicated persons, on the other hand, who often enjoy time spent in golf games will appreciate the level of challenge that is explored in multiple avenues of the game's structure. It can't always be seen in the most positive light, so perhaps it does not work well enough to be worthy of a consideration of your time and money. I struggled a bit to find a valid reason for anyone else to feel satisfied buying this, so unless you're a big fan of golf games, you may want to avoid the risk of being disappointed by this.

19/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Difficult to judge distance and choose appropriate clubs, trial and error dominates, crazy hazards, elements are a bit much at times
Presentation 7/10 - Does a pretty decent job of having different jingles and sound effects, has personality to it, unintentionally funny on occasion
Enjoyment 3/5 - Can be quite frustrating to play, difficulty curve alienates casual fans, more serious golf players will appreciate the challenge factor
Extra Content 3/5 - Several holes to play on, price isn't as big of a concern due to the amount of things you need to get the hang of, Training Mode

Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

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