Nintendo Touch Golf: Birdie Challenge Nintendo DS Review

Golf games seem to be one of the most difficult sports simulations to be presented to gamers, whether it’s on PC, console or handheld device. I’m a golfer, and ‘proper’ simulations such as the Tiger Woods series have never interested me. The only golf game I owned was Nintendo’s Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, which, in my opinion, isn’t ‘proper’, however, I love it to bits because of its simplicity and playability. Until now, a ‘proper’ simulator, with real world environments and stats, hasn’t appeared desirable. Touch Golf changes that.

From the beginning, you can determine the player you wish to have, by sex, attitude, style and even race. This is a nice feature, although is quite limiting. You are also able to input other settings, such as your name, which is taken from the DS’ statistics, and hand orientation (left/right).

Touch Golf shines as a realistic and ‘touchable’ simulator. It is simple to pick up and play. Within five minutes you are making drives of 200 metres or so and further, discovering the challenges of a golf course, complete with trees, bunkers and water hazards. Included are quick start plays along with championship modes and multiplayer. It takes more than a few hours to grasp the game and its control system, but when you do, it will be one of the most fulfilling games of simulated golf you will have ever played.

The title features a real world golf course, based on the Phoenix Country Club, of the Phoenix Seagaia Resort. But there has to be the basics of game design to present the title. Touch Golf features a unique ‘rub’ motion to swing a club, rather than the push button mechanics of the majority of golf titles. Slide the stylus back to swing back, then slide it forward to hit. It’s that simple, and works amazingly well. To add to this mechanic are the various factors such as ball control, backspin, forward spin, as well as the speed of your stroke on the touch screen which will determine the speed and length of your stroke. Putting occurs in the same matter.

There are also environmental effects that can be of concern to the game. A raining day will see your ball fall to the ground much faster than on a day of sunshine. Wind will have a devastating effect, especially when you are banking on your shot passing a bunker or water hazard by a small margin. Rough is much harder to hit out of than the fairway, as expected, as is sand. These effects make for a realistic and challenging experience of golf on the Nintendo DS.

A variety of clubs are available for your selecting pleasure. Ranging from the short range Pitch and Sand wedges through the Irons to the 5, 3 and 1 drivers. It is up to you to determine the length of play, the control you have on the ball, and what you will have to do to proceed with the next stroke.

The game features Nintendo 64 type graphics, however, the textures are something of a horror movie; low resolution and blurred. The character models feature relatively high polygon counts and realistic animation, complete with facial textures. As mentioned above, you can select your character’s attitude, which will be exhibited on the course, depending on the type of shot they make. As for the physics of the title. Touch Golf has a surprisingly good physical appearance. Golf balls will act according to the terrain they are on. Obviously rough will slow down a ball fast, while a ball will travel fast on the green. Realistic bounces are witnessed on the fairway, with the ball suffering from rain with smaller bounces.

In-game audio is pretty basic, which is to be expected from simulators. The main themes on the course are a ‘golf’ type of tune, nothing too distracting, with a simplistic approach. Sounds made from clubs striking balls or balls bouncing, however, are quite realistic, with that distinctive ‘ping’ made from the hit of a driver to the whack of an iron or the sound of a ball dropping into the hole. Crowds will even cheer if you make a good shot, or groan as you miss an opportunity.

In an attempt to extend the lifespan of Touch Golf, T&ESoft have included a few unlockable courses, along with including a multiplayer mode. Gamers even have the ability to build and customise their character stats, buy apparel and check out on their statistics that they have built. This is all achieved by spending that hard earned championship cash. The game will even allow you to search PictoChat, while you play, automatically entering communication mode if another DS is found.

Overall, Touch Golf is the best golf simulator on the DS. It’s simple; basic mechanics combined with detailed, realistic golf courses provides for an attractive experience for anyone. Because of its pick up and playability, anyone can jump straight in and have a ball. Due to a balanced physics engine, along with many courses and some unlockables, this game has a fair amount of gameplay to offer. Multiplayer only extends this. If you’re interested in golf, or golf sims, pick it up and give it a go. True swing is just a touch away.

7.5 out of 10