You know you’re in safe hands when you load up We Love Golf. It’s that Camelot logo - it instantly speaks of heritage and gravitas. It’s also the final nail in the coffin of the dream that someday the Wii might play home to a golf game that actually feels like real golf. After all, if they can’t do it, no one can. While EA’s Tiger Woods games attempt a 1:1 system where your swing matches your real motions, We Love Golf is a phony - faking a golf swing with motions while secretly using the tried and tested three-click controls: one click to start the swing, one click to set your power and one click to set your accuracy.
Okay, so Camelot (the brains behind Mario Golf) are exceptional fakers, but fakers nonetheless. You’ll tilt the controller back to set your swing - click one. You’ll swing it quickly to a position slightly above horizontal, while the slider’s power meter ‘chases you’ to set the strength meter - click two. Once the sliders meet, your big-eyed golfer will take their swing and you’ll tilt the controller forward just as they make contact to set your accuracy - click three. For best results, hold the controller sideways and rotate it using two hands. Yep, it’s a motion-sensitive golf game where you’re at your best when holding the controller like an NES pad. Camelot do the cartoon golf thing better than anyone, but it’s a little sad that for all their expertise and pedigree, their sole innovation is by far the worst thing about the game.
‘But so what?’ we asked of the Japanese release. ‘So what if it’s not realistic?’ It’s fun and playable, which makes it a rare case among Wii golf games. We Love Golf’s strength doesn’t lie in a clever use of the remote, but in the impeccable course design and rock-solid ball physics. Seven months on and it’s still playable and fun, especially with Camelot’s new treats for western gamers. Online options for We Love Golf weren’t even a consideration in Japan, but thankfully they have made it into our release. The mode is basic and short on the kind of options offered by EA’s golfing games, but the fact it was included at all shows a surprising respect for western Wii gamers, and the addition is just about enough to forgive the colossal wait for the game’s western release.
Thanks to its Mario Golf heritage and unchanging formula, We Love Golf is a game tested by iteration after iteration, on Game Boy, N64, GBA, GameCube and now Wii. Time has proven its strength, but it has also taken its toll. We Love Golf is an antique with only two real concessions to 21st century gaming - motion controls and online play. In every other regard, it’s a throwback to the old days. There are numerous courses in the game, including a beach resort and a desert ruin, as well as courses based around pirate and candy themes. You start with only a handful unlocked, forcing you to play through the solo game before you can have fun with your friends on the others. The on-screen information is another relic - a barrage of irrelevance, all of it rendered in gigantic symbols and enormous fonts. Tiger might not be so deliciously colourful, but at least he keeps his flimflam down to the bare necessities.
We Love Golf does have a number of irritations. It’s a great looking game, but you never actually ever get to enjoy the view thanks to the way the game makes you watch the action through a tiny window in the middle of a sea of numbers and icons. And would the game really be any worse for using three A-button clicks? Is it really any better for its motion control? This game is old, sure, but age brings wisdom and it’s definitely the smartest golf game on the Wii. Even with the addition of online play, it’s still an old-fashioned game; one where every course is as much a challenge for the brain as the thumbs, one where every new world unlocked is a delight, and one which offers enough exciting competition and different ways to play to keep you enthralled for... ooh... seven months and still counting.
Jul 15, 2008