DS Review: True Swing Golf

With the launch of the Playstation 2, T&E Soft quietly snuck out Swing Away Golf. It's goofy exterior turned people away to the slowly forming Tiger Woods series. However, any golf video game fan should have long given up on the 2001 edition EA's yearly franchise. On the other hand, they'll still pull out Swing Away Golf for a few rounds now and then. The same could go for True Swing Golf, a lacking title off the course, but offering spectacular play on.

The initial reaction to this Nintendo-published title is what little there is to do. Where the Tiger Woods franchise is almost too much to handle initially, True Swing just seems barren. For single-players, the championship mode across 15 courses is what you're looking for. Basic, solo tournaments earn cash to customize the avatar in limited fashion. New clubs, balls, gloves, and shoes enhance stats. The other modes, such as match play and skins, are simply exercises.

The key to alleviating that boredom is multi-player. While not playable over Nintendo Wi-Fi (a feature that would have made this an instant classic), four players can swing against each other with only a single card. This will limit the courses you can pick and nothing else. If everyone has a card, the unlocked courses are all playable with a extensive set of variables to even things out.

This is the type of game that would fall totally apart without its title. The True Swing means a lot: a simple, easy to pick up interface that offers more than its design initially indicates. Unlike the glitchy and unresponsive touch screen features in last year's Tiger Woods outing, True Swing's system is flawless yet similar. Once you've aimed and set up your shot through a perfectly designed touch screen menu, you slide the stylus back and then up as quickly as possible.

This offers many things. Most notably, it's easy to mess up a shot. Sliding too far left or right will shank the ball, pulling too far back will duff it, and not following through will kill the distance. Also, the faster you move the stylus, the more power you put on the ball. This is the sole feature that makes True Swing an easy recommendation. This is a far better system than the analog stick swing in Tiger Woods for the home consoles, and arguably more enjoyable.

Putting is the aspect of the title that doesn't seem to fit. The swing system is the same. To read the green, the game will offer up a simple red line that should be lined up with the hole. Pull back and watch the ball drop. It's not always this way, as occasionally the line doesn't offer an exact read. Here, you'll need to rely on tough to manage arrows or just guess. It's not a glitch or mistake on the part of the developers. It's intentional to offset the guiding hand the game provides. You'll rarely need to guess power (aside from wind directions that may affect the flight of the ball) as the touch screen shows exactly how far back the club needs to go.

It adds up to an arcade golf experience, which are all golf gamers can get these days. It doesn't detract from the title, and in all actuality, it makes the all-fantasy course roster logical. Some of the sights are hindered by the handheld's abilities (backdrops take a huge hit, and fly-bys are riddled with draw-in), but the overhead 2-D view on the bottom screen meshes just fine with the 3-D view on top. Neither affect gameplay negatively, just the presentation which reminds us of how far we've come with the home consoles. The addition of accessible Pictochat from inside the game to taunt doesn't make up for the graphics.

Once everything is unlocked, all the tournament money has been secured, and you're left with only basic gameplay, you'll be back to True Swing Golf. A quick nine-holes is undeniably perfect portable entertainment. The easy and non-fund draining multi-player is the extra push this one needs to make it a game twice as good as Tiger's DS outing.

(**** out of *****)

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