My new friends at Nintendo contacted me out of the blue to review their new game True Swing Golf. I was pleasantly surprised that some of the folks there were not only bloggers, they were reading my golf blog!
They gave me a tough gig: play a fun game and write about it. There are worse jobs…
The Nintendo DS Unit
First I need to cover the Nintendo DS unit, which is the platform True Swing Golf operates on. The DS is the most modern version of the series of Game Boy units. My kids initially had the regular Game Boy Color, and two years ago my son got a Game Boy Advance for Christmas.
DS stands for “dual screen.” The DS is basically a super cool Gameboy with two back lit screens, stereo speakers, wireless networking, a microphone, internal rechargeable battery, and one touchscreen with a stylus that you use like a PDA. This is a very cool unit. I love the fact that it uses it’s own proprietary internal rechargeable battery (it does come with charger cable) so I don’t have to spend a fortune on batteries at the store.
True Swing Golf – the game
When you play TSG the first time, you set yourself up as a player. You can choose some player features: male/female, name, appearance, hat etc. Then you’re ready to play.
Playing the game
Playing True Swing Golf is truly unique compared to any other golf games I’ve played on portables or larger consoles. Rather than pushing a button to start the swing, then pushing another button at the correct point of the back swing, you use the DS’s stylus to make a swing. You literally guide the club head back and through the ball. The harder you swing, the farther the ball goes. If you come in at a strange angle, you hit bad shots. In fact, if you swing badly enough, you can whiff a shot! I know because I did it. And on one unfortunate bad swing, I broke the stylus swinging too hard. Fortunately the DS came with a backup.
Lower screen during play
The club swing, menu items, wind, yardages and numerous other things are displayed on the lower screen during play. The upper screen of the DS is where you see your player’s swing, the ball fight, the course etc.
There are many features you can utilize during play with the stylus and the console’s buttons:
The Menu button allows you to pull up your scorecard, play a mulligan (that’s a no no), concede (match play), change settings and suspend or pause your round.
The club selection button is obviously where you pick your clubs. Some clubs, such as the sand wedge, have some variables you can select for the type of shot you want to hit.
The target cam button is used to zoom in on your target and it gives you a 3D grid of the terrain so you can calculate where to land your ball and how it will react. When you hit this button, the screen scrolls and the animation is very cool.
The final menu button is the map zoom. You can zoom in/out of the course.
The left side of the lower screen shows you data such as the lie, wind conditions, yardages etc.
The upper screen during play
The upper screen shows much of the “action” during play. You see your player’s swing, the ball flight, hole number and yardage, current score, stoke # and a few other items.
Stroke Play is just that, 9 or 18 holes of stroke play. There are 4 built in courses to choose from with varying terrain and conditions. You can even play in the snow!
Match Play is where you play against a computer opponent in a match play situation. Depending on your skill level you can choose how hard of a match you want. I beat the medium setting 2up.
Free Play is like a practice round. You can start on any hole you want and set up custom conditions for weather, tee boxes etc.
Championship is where you compete for money and rankings. The money comes in handy later in the pro shop.
Quick Start gets you on the course playing fast.
Wireless Play: Beat your buddies in golf matches by using the DS’s wireless capability. Unfortunately I did this review before the game was available to the public so I couldn’t find anyone to play wirelessly!
Inside the club house you’ll find the locker room. In the locker room you can choose your attire, colors etc. You can also see your statistics, equipment listing and current funds in your account.
Also inside the clubhouse you’ll find the golf shop. In the golf shop you can purchase attire and equipment from your winnings which you’ve accrued playing tournaments. I currently have $104.90 which would be enough for me to upgrade to a more stylish golf shirt, cool hat or more interesting hair style.
Gear wise it will take $50 plus for higher performance golf balls and up to about $500 for a better driver. I’m working on building up my winnings so I can buy something big in the golf shop, just like real life.
What could be improved?
There are a couple of minor missing features I could use in the True Swing Golf.
I would love to have the ability to set the club yardages to the same yardages that I hit them. I don’t hit my 3-iron 170 yards and my 3-wood doesn’t go about 200.
I’d also like to see the ability to select specific clubs or sets of clubs. There’s no lob wedge. There’s no hybrid. I’d like to set the clubs up so they’re the same clubs I carry in my bag: 4 wedges for instance.
Nintendo has done a great job with this game. The graphics are great and the stereo music and sounds are excellent. I love the animation of the characters and especially the 3D viewing and scrolling of the course contours.
TSG is very fun to play. Bring it with you to the doctor’s office or on the airplane and your wait will seem much shorter.
A reminder: I’ll be giving away TWO complete Nintendo DS units along with True Swing Golf in the Hooked On Golf Blog Fantasy League!
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