Golf with some added "depth"
Developer Gameloft has a history of... well... "borrowing" ideas from other games. Their design philosophy is more renovation than innovation, and as long as they're getting their money, it doesn't really matter. Their games are usually still fun even if they're overly familiar. They're first 3DS eShop entry is Let's Golf 3D, and you guessed it that it uses ideas from Mario Golf, Hot Shots Golf, and the most recent of the bunch, We Love Golf. The game is not only available on the eShop, but it's also able to be purchased on your iPhone or iPad and for a few dollars less. Is the 3DS version worth it for the novelty of 3D alone, or is failure par for Gameloft's course?
Let's Golf 3D has plenty of content for single-player gamers to partake in. Though if you do grow weary of taking on the computer in the campaign and challenge modes, you can opt to pass around the 3DS in multiplayer mode. Campaign mode has the player earning medals: gold, silver, and bronze. As they earn more medals, more tournaments, challenges, courses, characters, costumes, and accessories are unlocked. The aim of Let's Golf 3D is to place first in every event to earn a gold medal. This means you automatically get the silver and bronze medal without having to get second and third place respectively. There's hundreds of medals to earn (counting bronze and silver, of course), and three are hidden on each of the game's six unique courses. They're usually in out-of-the-way spots or hovering over dangerous bunkers. You must have your shot pass through the medal in order to nab it. This can get frustrating when you're off just by a little bit, and you have to waste shots trying to get it. And seeing as you can only get these in Campaign mode and not free play mode, you'll probably have to purposefully lose just to acquire these secret gems.
Starting off in Campaign mode, you have one course to select from: England, with its rolling hills, wide fairways, and minimal hazards. As you earn medals you unlock more challenges and more courses. From the African bush of Kenya to the final course full of frosty fjords, narrow fairways, and plenty of troublesome hazards to contend with. Challenges consist of such tasks like match play, stroke play on three holes, six holes, nine holes, or the entire course, there's a mode where the player with the highest score at the end of each hole is eliminated with the player that is left standing wins it all, and closest to the pin contests which usually span four holes.
Alongside Campaign mode is the... well... challenging Challenge mode. This mode has four different games to play. There's Catch the Star, Birdie or Bust, Longest Putt, and Bunker Ball. Catch the Star requires the player to uncover and hit through four stars before time expires, Birdie or Bust necessitates the player to score a birdie before time runs out, Longest Putt gives the player one shot to make it in the hole from an expanse away from the hole, and Bunker Ball is one chance to chip it into the hole from the bunker. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, given the mechanics of the game, it is easier said than done for sure!
The swing mechanics should be familiar to anyone who has played with a traditional three click golf swing system. After preparing your shot by zooming the camera in on the intended destination of your shot, you press the button once to start the meter, it runs up to the top, click it again to set the distance, and as the meter swings back down, you press the button one last time to set the accuracy of your shot. Seeing as the meter is so slow, it's almost impossible to duff a shot. You literally have to try to fail. Furthermore the game utilizes a recommended area on the swing meter to set your distance at. I find this more as a hindrance as too many times when I selected the recommended swing distance, the ball went into the rough as opposed to the fairway. As the ball is jettisoned into the air, you can hold the analog stick forwards, backwards, or left or right to give the ball spin, slice, fade, topspin or backspin.
Putting is pretty challenging in Let's Golf 3D. You have your putting grid which has dotted lines trailing upward and downward showing the slope, and you have the putt meter which shows a recommended distance to putt the ball. Again, ignore this recommendation. Too often the ball goes way too short or way too far from the hole. Three putts on holes is inexcusable, and I'm not even Tiger Woods in 2011. Low blow. Sorry. Another bothersome feature is that when you call up the meter to putt, the meter is already moving, and unless you have the reflexes of Superman, you're not going to get the desired power. Thankfully you can set the speed of your putt on the way back down the meter. Additionally, all your best scores and shots can be saved for your future viewing pleasure. Feel free to show off to your friends!
There's a wide cast of characters to play with in Let's Golf 3D. Each of which has the personality of cardboard. They do have their strengths and weaknesses as well as stats (for putting, accuracy, power, etc.). You can use unlocked costumes to tweak and customize your characters to your liking. Don't like that girl golfer's blonde hair? Make her a brunette then! Don't want to use the standard white golf ball? Upgrade to a ball that gets more accuracy in exchange for power. The choices are yours and yours alone. The characters will often comment on their shots with such dialogue as "Go, go, go" and "That's it!"
Let's Golf 3D certainly isn't pushing the Nintendo 3DS hardware to its limits (as no near-launch title should), but it does impress a little for a downloadable title. Yes, the 2D wildlife is a bit chintzy, and you could cut yourself on some of the jaggies in the game, but overall everything is pleasing to look at. However, there is some slowdown here and there which is inexcusable in my book. Even the 3D (it's in the title of the game, for heaven's sake!) is pretty weak. It's certainly not the game to show off to your buddies to make them go "ooh" and "aah". On the sound side of things, this game sports a very melodic and memorable soundtrack. It almost feels like something from Hot Shots Golf if you can imagine that. Ambient noises like birds and crickets are also a nice touch.
Let's Golf 3D is a proper golfing package worth looking into if you just can't wait for the next Hot Shots Golf game on Vita or if Nintendo ever gets off their sore behinds and come out with another Mario Golf game. If you have a choice between the iOS and 3DS versions, I'd go with iOS. Yes, there's no buttons, but do you really need them for the simple controls of this game? Plus you get a larger screen and no need to worry about poorly-implemented 3D technology. Even though this game possesses little innovation, Let's Golf 3D is as close to the links as 3DS owners can get currently.
[SuperPhillip Says: 7.0/10]