Wednesday 29 July 2015

Golf (Virtual Boy review)

Developer: T&E Soft
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1995

Golf was released as T&E Virtual Golf in Japan and it came out a month after the console's launch.

It features 18 holes and two modes which are Stroke Play and Tournament Play. Stroke Play is basically a practice mode as it allows you to select one or all of the holes. It's a good way to learn but most of your time will likely be spent in Tournament Play; this takes place across all 18 holes and sees you taking on 47 other golfers for the title. Before you swing you can alter the direction of your shot, the club you want and your stance (so you can draw or fade the ball). Afterwards a power metre appears and you need to use the A button to start and stop it at your desired distance. Finally, a spin indicator then lets you add things like top spin or back spin. The action on the green is very respectable and in a lot of ways it reminds me of PGA Tour Golf (1991, Mega Drive). Lining up your shots is easy and there's a nice view further down the course to show where your ball landed. Putting is equally user-friendly with a detailed grid overlaying the green so you can work out how far the ball will break. The main problem with the gameplay though lies with hardware limitations; each playing surface has a different texture to enable you to distinguish between things like sand bunkers and water. However, it's not intuitive due to the red and black colour palette and it takes a while to become accustomed to what the patterned lines and lighter shades of red mean! The 3D effect doesn't really add anything to the game and the textured patterns give the game a jagged look that resembles screen tearing and it interferes with depth perception. There's no ambient noises and only the occasional crowd cheer so the atmosphere is dull. You can't save your progress to the cartridge but there is a password option to pick up where you left off.

Golf plays a decent game of the sport but it's not particularly inspiring and doesn't have much personality. It's an odd choice for the Virtual Boy considering its colour limitations and after a few holes the badly coded 3D and blinding shades of red will have you reaching for the off button.

Random trivia: The game was directed by Tadashi Nakatsuji who also worked on the Virtual Boy titles Red Alarm (1995) and 3-D Tetris (1996).

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