Developer – T&E Software
Publisher - Nintendo
Wireless DS Single-Card Download Play
Wireless DS Multi-Card Play
Touch Screen Compatible
Some of my most memorable video golf gaming moments have been with a few of Nintendo’s handheld consoles. Mario Golf is what sticks out most in my mind, from the GBC version to the GBA version. I have been eagerly awaiting a DS version of this classic game but there has been no talk of it being in development. So, for my DS golf fix I have had to settle for Tiger Woods, which is pretty much ho-hum. Well, to my surprise Nintendo had another card up its sleeve with the aptly titled True Swing Golf. I have to say that this game really surprised me and it made golf on the DS fun again.
True Swing Golf is not that good looking of a game plain and simple. Most of the low quality graphics are the top screen which displays all the action of your golfer and the action of the ball after it is hit. I have to honestly say that this game looks like it may belong on the PSone during its early days. The characters are quite blocky and the resolution is quite low. Colors don’t seem nearly as vibrant as I have seen either and I wondered if the color palette was kept to a low number. There is also not a lot of shading going on either. On the plus side the 3D engine that each course is modelled around isn’t particularly bad, however I think that the DS is capable of much more. There is noticeable pop-up as the camera shows you the overview of the course and textures draw in. I know that the DS is not a powerhouse machine for 3D graphics, but it isn’t as bad as one would expect and these graphics could be better in my opinion. But I do remind those who are reading that graphics are just part of the overall picture.
Like the graphics, sound in True Swing Golf isn’t the highlight of the game, but it does get the job done. The music is almost 16 bit quality, but in a good way as it can be equated to something that you would hear coming from the SNES during its latter days. The music doesn’t grate on ones nerves but it is not something you will find particularly good either. As for the sound effects, there are not a whole lot. There are environmental sounds like wind and rain, there is your club hitting the ball, which is good, and there are traditional golf claps that really do sound like golf claps. All in all, the sound package does what it is supposed to, just don’t expect to be wowed by the audio in this game.
Many golf games have survived on the three button approach: hit it to start, hit it to set power and swing and then hit it to find the sweet spot. Of course recent golf games on the big consoles have utilized the analog sticks to swing the club at the ball; however the DS lacks such a control feature. That being said, T&E Soft have taken the touch screen and fully implemented golfing mechanics using the strength of the stylus. I was pleasantly surprised how this played into factor, and once I got further into the game the nuances of the mechanics really became evident.
To hit the ball you drag stylus back and then drive through the on-screen ball icon to send it down the fairway. It seems quite simple but the amount of mechanics in play here are incredible. Power and accuracy are key here. Power is created by how far back you ‘pull’ the stylus back and how quick you draw through the ball. Accuracy is done through the point where one draws through the ball, the more center on the ball the straighter the ball flies. This seems so simple but trust me, it isn’t. As you try to hit the ball harder you need to pull back and push forward very quickly all the while remaining within the center of the ball for a straight shot. Doing this really is skill based and there will be quite a few times that you will try that little harder to push forward a little quicker, resulting in “whiffing” the ball. It isn’t frustrating though as it really feels like you are improving your skill and once you get that perfect shot and hit the club on the ball at over 125 m.p.h you will feel a firm sense of satisfaction. Drawing and fading become quite important as you open more difficult courses. These skill shots are done by hitting the ball more to the left or right sides of the ball. Although they are great to do it also enhances your chances of whiffing the ball as you don’t have so much of the ball to hit.
Putting is also done using the touch screen and stylus. The same basic principles apply as you pull back the stylus then push forward. The key to putting lies in reading the green. Here you have a grid and arrows flow along the specific direction of the slope. It is useful and once you figure out the power of your shots (e.g. downhill versus uphill) putting can be done with relative success.
Setting up your shots is completed via the stylus and touch screen. Here you get a top down view of the course and you can plan out your next shot. You can also choose your club and a top/backspin. I found that having most of the key actions assigned to the touch screen a treat and it made this game play even better.
In terms of the overall physics of the play, I found all different types of terrain or weather to influence how the ball would react. Should you shoot into the wind your ball will not travel as far as if there was no wind at all. Land on an uphill sloped fairway and your ball will not roll as far as a level one. Take a shot from a left or right sloped fairway or rough and your ball will slice or hook accordingly. It is clear that T&E Soft made sure that the play was as realistic as being out there and I found that I had to think like a real golfer and plan my shots more then once, rather then just hitting the ball and plowing through the game.
This game has a large selection of courses, 15 to be exact, and this is quite a nice number for a handheld version of golf. These courses do vary as they range from mountain valleys, tropical paradises and even volcanic islands. Unfortunately those looking for the real PGA courses or PGA golfers must look elsewhere as True Swing Golf does not have any licences for the real thing. Regardless though, the variety of courses is nice as you don’t have to play the same area over and over again.
The single player’s main focus is on winning tournaments. As you play you will win money and open more courses as you get further into the game. Winnings can be spent to buy new equipment that help improve your game. Such things as draw, fade and hitting distance are improved upon with better equipment and make the game even more enjoyable, especially in the later and harder stages. Of course should you not want to partake in a tournament you can play a quick game on any of the courses that you have opened up.
In terms of multiplayer play True Swing Golf shines bright. There are two ways to hook up for multiplayer fun: single-card download or multi-card play. Having the ability to play golf from one DS card is very cool. Sure, some of the features of multi-card are not there, but to play a round of golf with a friend, who has a DS, but not the game, is a HUGE plus indeed. All in all once you start playing this game against your fellow DS friends, the fun will just begin.
True Swing Golf may not have the visuals or sound to wow the average gamer, but it makes some definite headway in the gameplay and multiplayer department. With a great use of the touch screen, and a great single-card multiplayer mode, golfers on the run really can’t go wrong adding this golf game to their DS collection. I also have to note that I believe Nintendo could do well to carry this control scheme over to a DS version of Mario Golf too.