We love golf!
9th Feb 2008 | 15:00
Don't let the title deceive you. Camelot's putt-maniac is certainly dead keen on golf, but its real passion - that which sends shivers of delight through its code - is not the time spent on the green, but you, the gamer.
No matter how you treat it, no matter how you 'perform', We Love Golf! is programmed to treat you like the king of games, shrieking wild celebratory yelps over your every move and firing miniature lightshows upon sinking the ball. Few titles try so hard to impress you.
Such an approach was to be expected from the developers of the Mario Golf series. Those titles understood the value of instant, accessible satisfaction.
Like Mario's fairway exploits, this is golf with a big smile on its face, worlds away from grumpy Tiger Woods and his bland agonising over real world specifics and the statistics of his golf trousers.
Options-wise, We Love Golf! is pretty sparse. Outside of a few differing character stats there's little to prevent you from diving straight in, and the mentality transfers across to the swing.
In the swing
Ever since Nintendo demonstrated the simple swing of Wii Sports, the transformation of the remote into a golf club has been something of a holy grail to game developers.
While Super Swing Golf and Tiger Woods both opt for a realistic swing - with draw and fade decided by remote positioning and power calculated by mysterious maths whirring deep within the game - Camelot have stuck to their guns and delivered a system that's instantly familiar to the majority of us, but not without that all-new satisfaction of a good ol' thwack.
Point the remote down and you enter Swing mode - a slick decision that does away with hackneyed button activated swing-stances.
Holding A takes a swing, your power climbing as you draw the remote back. A time limit is imposed by having a shadow-club pursue your club icon up the meter - you have to reach your desired power before it catches up and freezes shot-power in place.
With power picked you then have to swing - belting it as hard as you can seems to work best - as your club symbol falls back over its original placement.
What sounds awkward on paper is a doddle in action. Swing modifiers are decided pre-swing; fade and draw, backspin and top spin frozen in place the moment you hold A to swing.
As such, the timed thwack to hit the accuracy marker can be as messy as you want - and as dramatically frenzied as you wish - leading to the first golf experience on Wii that lets you enjoy the silliness of properly hefting a ball down the range.
Fun and games
So what if it's not realistic? It's the first Wii golf title that's really playable and, more importantly, fun, straight out of the box.
Swing aside, it's not overly complicated for anyone to get to grips with. While fantastical in their themes, courses are straightforward, free of obstacles and gimmicks.
Likewise, stepping up to the tee is unencumbered by powerups and club selection. In fact, an extra-powerful, but extra-difficult, super shot is the only feature separating this from the king of streamlined golfing, Wii Sports.
Yes, Capcom's eye for fan-service unlockables remains as strong as ever with some nifty Resi and Phoenix Wright dress-up, but some may feel a tad unfulfilled when it's compared with the all-you-can-eat-mode-buffet of Super Swing and Woods.
But remember: while they certainly offer fatter packages, the meat is poorer throughout. Woods may deliver 10 varieties of golf, but you'll only remember the duffer of a control scheme at the heart of them all.
In the club
Not to say that We Love Golf! is the be-all and end-all. It's a relatively streamlined offering - the ring-passing, target-hitting, ball-putting minigames hurriedly copied from Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour - and not particularly challenging to boot.
In many ways it feels like the precursor to a truly great title; a game with its head solidly screwed on, but a tad lacking in scope.
With a game this bright and breezy it seems criminal to end on such a glum note. We Love Golf! is one of the most relentlessly upbeat titles we've played in a while and one that demonstrates how easily the solid mechanics of past glories can be transferred to the remote without being lost in translation. Slick, jaunty and ever so pleasant, we love it.