Thursday, July 8, 2021

Sonic Colors: Ultimate (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) "HD Updates Spotlight" Trailer

SEGA has a new trailer for Sonic Colors: Ultimate putting several of the new enhancements that this HD remaster has in store for players under the spotlight. Such enhancements include new lighting, updated 4K graphics at 60 FPS, a Rival Mode where players race against Metal Sonic for prizes, new in-game cosmetics for Sonic, remixed music, and much, much more. Sonic Colors: Ultimate speeds onto Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 7th.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (NSW) "A Hero Rises" Trailer

Continuing Nintendo's marketing blitz and ad campaign for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, a new trailer focusing on the game's standing as the first game in The Legend of Zelda timeline has been published this morning. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD soars on to Nintendo Switch a week from Friday on July 16th!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Six Great Golf Games Released in the Past Six Years

The golf season is in full swing, quite literally at that. Thus, it's no better time than the present to step onto the tee box and swing for the green in one with a special article devoted to the best golf games released in recent years. SPC has a list of the six greatest golf games, whether arcade, sim, or otherwise too crazy to even classify! From old favorites like Mario and the Everybody's Golf crew, to new, fresh faces in the world of golf video games, this list of six has something for everybody!

Mario Golf: Super Rush (NSW)

Let's start off with the most recent golf game to release: Mario Golf: Super Rush. While the overall level of content in this otherwise stellar golf game was lighter than expected, especially when compared to past installments of the Mario Golf series, the actual golf gameplay was very much well under par. Forgoing the typical three-click system of traditional arcade golf games, Super Rush brought with it a two-input system to start the shot gauge and set the power, while accuracy was determined by the red risk area of the gauge. If the power on the gauge was set in the red risk area, the chances for an off-course shot was higher. It's a shot system that requires some learning, particularly for those accustomed to past Mario Golf games' three-click system. Once you did overcome the initial learning curve, however, you could pull off some impressive and incredible shots.

Furthermore, the six courses on offer in Super Rush range from traditional to zany, much like Standard Golf compared to the more insane, included Speed and Battle Golf modes. From Rookie Course and Bonny Greens' simple undulating hills and greens, to the more wacky Mushroom Kingdom obstacle-laden Bowser Highlands, the courses here may not all be the most imaginative, but they are all enjoyable and entertaining to play on, delivering challenging drives and putts for those who wish to take them on. With the promise of more courses and content via DLC, I anxiously look forward to the future of Mario Golf: Super Rush, as what's here currently is a solid foundation. It's just missing that extra oomph to sink its shot into astounding golfing greatness.

Everybody's Golf (PS4)

From developer Clap Hanz, we have the seventh mainline installment of the Everybody's Golf franchise, formerly known in North America as Hot Shots Golf. The simply titled Everybody's Golf did away with characters to collect and add to your roster of golfers. Instead, the game was all about creating your own custom golfer, outfitting them with a surplus of clothing, accessories, and other goodies, and putting them through the ranks from rookie to seasoned golf pro. This journey would take quite a bit of grinding through playing the same beginning courses again and again, ad nauseum, sometimes doing the front-nine, sometimes doing the back-nine, and the occasional play of the entire course. However, your skills would improve, your club set would get upgraded, and you'd soon find yourself sinking impossible putts, performing insane drives, and making your CPU opponents into mincemeat on the links.

Like Mario Golf: Super Rush, Everybody's Golf started with six standard courses. These took place around the globe in themed areas, such as a tropical series of islands, a course nearby a bustling metropolis, and also a canyon course. Three or so other courses would get added to the game, but unlike Super Rush, these would be paid DLC. At the same time, Everybody's Golf released at a $40 price tag, as opposed to Super Rush's $60, so I guess just like a birdie on one hole followed by a bogey on another, it all evens out. 

Clap Hanz Golf (iOS)

It only makes sense to make the next golf game we talk about one that was the first self-published title from the developer of Everybody's Golf: Clap Hanz. The not-so-cleverly titled Clap Hanz Golf is currently an Apple Arcade exclusive game, and it suffers from some of the same grind that Everybody's Golf's solo mode offering did. That said, the grind is mostly enjoyable due to the fact that there is a lot of variety in Clap Hanz Golf's campaign. Outside of traditional 3, 6, or 9-hole rounds--which is perfect for the bite-sized mobile gaming scene--there are also driving challenges, versus play matches against the AI, characters and costumes to unlock, and whole slew of different round modifiers to mess with your game, such as out of bounds rules for landing in the rough or a bunker! 

Clap Hanz brought some innovation to the golf game scene by having its players utilize more than one golfer per round. In fact, in the standard campaign, you choose a different character per hole in a given round, and this is performed at the very beginning of a round. Thus, there's some strategy to be discovered here, whether it's using your best power hitter on a Par 5, but risk their accuracy costing you a penalty by landing in a water hazard. If you fancy a normal round of golf, Clap Hanz Golf has that, too, with traditional one-character score attack-like rules. All this and a touch-based driving, chipping, and putting system that definitely takes some patience and practice to come to grips with makes Clap Hanz Golf a solid round on the links and great game for Apple Arcade.

PGA Tour 2K21 (Multi)

Feel the rhythm of your swing with this next golf offering, delivering to players a much more traditional, realistic golf experience with PGA Tour 2K21. By using the analog stick, players hold the stick back, and then thrust it forward to do all the major actions that one would need on the golf course (e.g. putting, chipping, and driving). The rhythm of your swing matters, as if you input and initiate the movement to quickly or slowly, your shot will suffer draw or fade. 

PGA Tour 2K21 allows players to enjoy the thrills and successes (as well as the occasional failure) on the PGA Tour with a full-fledged career mode, offering week-to-week events all leading up to the PGA Tournament. The customization on display is tremendous, allowing players to tweak how easy or difficult the gameplay is, such as allowing or disallowing the camera view to show where the ball is estimated to land, allowing or disallowing shot previews completely, and much, much more. Additionally, online play is full of creative gameplay types, and a fully featured course creator multiplies the amount of time one can spend with this true gem of a golf game even further. 

Golf Story (NSW)

For those disappointed that Mario Golf has long turned its back on the RPG modes seen in Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color and Advance Tour on the Game Boy Advance, Golf Story is not just suitable alternative, it's also a darn near fantastic replacement! Offering an in-depth story across multiple courses on different country clubs, with unique characters, hilarious scenarios and dialogue, and even adventures outside of the realm of traditional golf, Golf Story succeeds in teeing up a captivating 10-15 hour journey from golfing rookie to golf prodigy. 

Even if you don't have a fascination with golf, there's a lot to like and even love about Golf Story. However, those who yearn for a cartoon-y take on what can be an otherwise dull sport will discover great top-down golf mechanics reminiscent of the Game Boy Color and Advance Mario Golf games, plenty of secrets and side quests to find, extra modes like mini-golf and disc golf, and standard play for fun solo rounds on the game's six courses. 

What the Golf? (Multi)

We conclude this lovely look at six great golf games released in the past half-decade and some change with a very atypical approach to golf games. In fact, What the Golf? is basically a golf game for those out there who don't like golf! Taking a wild swing at golf, What the Golf? takes players through a non-traditional take on the sport through bite-sized levels or "holes" that not always have you hitting a golf ball. One hole you'll naturally strike the golf ball, while on another, you might be hitting the golfer instead of the actual ball! Some holes take place in a 3D space, while others are completely 2D. Each group of holes is themed, as well. One of my favorites is a clever riff of Super Mario Bros, while another takes a Portal-inspired approach and just runs with it to awesome effect. You really never know what to expect with What the Golf's impressive and oftentimes hilarious variety, and that's really what makes this goofy golf game so stupendously special.

Nintendo Switch (OLED model) Announcement Trailer

Introducing the Nintendo Switch--OLED style! While not quite the significant upgrade that was rumored, the Switch's new OLED model does have some cool, nifty improvements, such as a 7-inch OLED screen, a much wider stand than the original Switch (and it's adjustable), as well as a wired LAN connection that can be plugged in directly to the dock. The newest member of the Nintendo Switch assortment of systems launches right alongside Metroid Dread on October 8th!