Nintendo Touch Golf: Birdie Challenge
As a kid, I loved minigolf. Every journey abroad, I dragged my parents to the course that looks the most spectacular. I had never tried real golf, until last year i suddenly got an initiation. The first thing I noticed: physical it’s a lot harder than you would think. And I’m not even talking about walking from hole to hole! We started on the green to learn how to put. That was frustrating. Not too hard, not too skew, watching the slopes of the green,… Then we learnt the swing. A half hour later I finally succeeded in landing the ball about fifty meters further. The instructor coincidentally saw it and said: “You have a talent, if you have some spare time, join the club”. Yeah right! I almost fell down when I heard the price. Give me Nintendo Touch Golf: Birdie Challenge. For about 45 euros you also have some fun relaxation!
First of all, I have to say it: what’s fun about giving two names to the same game? In the US this game is called True Swing Golf. Ok, I admit, there are more original names we can think off. But Nintendo Touch Golf: Birdie Challenge? As if, 1) we don’t understand True Swing Golf, 2) we can’t see this is a golf game and 3) we don’t know the DS has a TOUCHscreen. Original people may now start applying!
The game then. First you have to choose from four male and female characters, who look all boring and standard. No known golf players and no Mario or friends. You decide whether your character should react cool or wild after he has put the ball. This means just waving his hand a little to the public or jumping around like you’re crazy.
Then you’re ready to go to court. First we try the Training mode. Put the cursor on the place where we want to land, click the Swing button, move the club back with the stylus according to how far and how hard our ball should fly and then draw a line to the middle of the ball on top of our screen. Sure looks easy.
Nice is the fact that the speed of your ball depends on how fast you drew the line and the movement of the ball depends on where you hit the ball on top of the touchscreen. If your club doesn’t touch the ball, then your golfer will hit the grass. Depending how good you hit, you deserve special shots that go a little further than the normal shots. But we can’t really say this adds something to the game.
Who wants more than this, can try the tactics for advanced players. A well-trained person can do a topspin (the ball moves a little further than normal) or a backspin (the ball comes back a little) by hitting the ball at the top or at the bottom. If you really want a challenge, you can try the draw and fade balls. If you hit the ball in the middle while your changing the corner your dragging the stylus, you can send a ball in a curved track to the green. Very handy when a tree is blocking the way!
Let’s start a tour in the Championship mode
. The music isn’t so good, so I turn it off. Now I am able to hear the other sounds: the chirping of the birds, the blowing of the wind,… It almost makes me relax! At least if I ignore the idiotic clapping every time I put a ball. One tour follows the other, ten in total. I finish as first without any trouble and so I make a lot of money. To the club house to go shopping. A new t-shirt or pants, a better ball or club, more effective gloves or shoes. You can find everything there.
After the Rookie Championship it’s time for the next one, with a higher level. But then something goes wrong. I even can’t get a par (the standard number of hits to put the ball for that hole) because I’m a disaster on the green! No saving and trying again. Suddenly I see it. If you’re on the green and you have hit the swing button, there’s a red line on the top screen to indicate the track of the ball. At the right side, there a little icon to display the track in detail and then it appears the track isn’t ending in the hole at all. Although you would think so if you were only looking at the top screen.
After correcting with the arrows on top of the touchscreen, you automatically get back to the overview with the red line.
Let’s click right the gain to see in detail. Nope, still not good enough, correct some more, look again, correct some more, check again,… Furthermore, you have to think of the slopes in the green, displayed by moving arrows. If you see the ball has to get up there, you better hit a bit harder then what the power line is advising you. In other words, you are forced to be patient and to calmly look at what you’re doing, just as in real golf. If you’re in a hurry, it will definitely go wrong. Also keep the wind and the field in mind if you want to hit far balls. You never know there’s a tree in your way somewhere.
Beside the training and the championship mode there are two other modes in the single player part: Stroke Play en Match Play. Normally, your score is calculated by the number of hits in comparison to a par. In Stroke Play, it’s the real number of hits. In Match Play, you play against the computer. But fair is fair, perhaps your score is calculated differently but that’s it. The game is exactly the same as in championship mode, only these two options won’t bring in any money and they are very unattractive.
Of course you have the possibility of playing against friends. You can do this if more players have the game, but also if only one has it, although the number of holes are limited then. Not putting in a Wi-Fi mode is a lost opportunity. A few extras if you play multicard multiplayer: you can bet money on the results of the game (the winner gets everything) and you can write handwritten messages. A little pictochat in game.
Nintendo Touch Golf: Birdie Challenge is without doubt the most realistic and best golf game released for Nintendo DS. Still, it will never give you a WOW feeling. Real golf fanatics should run to the stores. The other gamers will find this game too boring. It has sharp-edged characters an no minigames or other fun options. What rests is pure golf.