July 25, 2011, at 10:49 AM

Mini Review: Fred Couples Golf

There’s plenty of golf games on every platform you can think of, but I’d never played one for more than a few minutes. So, on a whim, I chose Fred Couples Golf. (Or is is Fred Couples’ Golf?) It’s a reasonably mature golf game, albeit without any attempt at 3D, and the richer colour palette of the Game Gear is likely to make for a prettier game. So, what’s it like?

Graphics

The lack of 3D means it’s a bit dull, but on the other hand rendering decent 3D on Sega 8-bit consoles (see Ernie Els Golf) takes a long time (this game’s nice and fast) and doesn’t really enlighten you much. When you go to hit the ball you get a little square pseudo-FMV animation which is a nice touch, although it’s really just a delay. Once you get the ball onto the green, the view switches to one where it uses the Game Gear’s LCD’s slow response time (persistence) to blend the green view with a (blocky) height map, which is a nice way to do that and probably better than the attempted 3D projections you see elsewhere, which also means the putts are reasonably varied gameplay-wise.

Sound

I played with music off, and the thwack SFX were about what you’d expect. The later coastal course has some really awful bird noises too...

Longevity

There are three courses, meaning 54 holes. However, they’re all much of a muchness. A few require you to be careful - there’s narrow targets or huge things you have to avoid (e.g. the sea) - but all the way through the game helps you by selecting the direction (albeit not always exactly right) and the appropriate club (again, not always quite right), so it’s mostly a matter of hitting the ball at 100% power in the centre until the one where you use less power to avoid overshooting the green; and then putting is just a matter of judging the power meter again unless there’s some extreme contours to worry about. So it’s pretty dull.

Add to that that in tournament mode, you have to play each course twice - once to “make the cut” and once for “real” - and it does drag on a bit. The game provides passwords, which is handly because playing through takes longer than a set of AAs would last in a Game Gear. Still, some Sega 8-bit golf games make you play each course four times in tournament mode, as that’s apparently what happens in real life...

Plot

There’s not supposed to be any.

Fun

There isn’t much. The difficulty curve is very shallow, but it is always tricky, so there’s some satisfaction in getting a shot “just right”. But that’s all.

Innovation

Not much... golf games by this stage were verging on 3D, although I think it was sensible not to do that this time. Apart from that, it’s just a matter of polish and the game is quite polished, and tries hard to do things nicely.

Conclusion

So I’d never played a golf game all the way though, and now I have, and it’s really just more courses (and you have some incentive not to just mess around hitting the ball all over the place). I can’t really judge it against all the other golf games I haven’t played all the way through, so I’ll judge it against the other games I have played all the way through.


Mini Review Ratings