Friday, May 26, 2006

Amju Super Golf Review

Amju Super Golf, developed and published by Amju Games.
The Good: Good theme, some original components
The Not So Good: Camera control issues, not challenging, no penalty for playing over par
What say you? An arcade golf game that’s too easy to be fun: 4/8

There are several sports on television that might seem boring to some but are exciting to those who are interested in that sport. For example, not living in a baseball town, I find baseball extremely boring and vomit-inducing. Another sport like this is golf, enjoyed by old men everywhere as a way to walk outside and yell obscenities at a tiny ball in an acceptable environment. People who don’t play golf can’t understand what the fascination is watching professionals play on TV. Golf does make for some entertaining computer games, however, evidenced by the venerable Tiger Woods series published by Big Brother. There is another sect of golf games in addition to the realistic ones, and that includes arcade, cutesy games. A popular series on the console is Hot Shots Golf, and our game today, Amju Super Golf, is similar to that game. Amju Super Golf features brightly colored levels dotted with hearts and players ripped from anime. Will Amju Super Golf fill the arcade golf niche on the PC?

Amju Super Golf certainly establishes its theme in the graphics department: bright, bright, and more bright. Just looking at the game almost makes your eyes bleed from all of the clashing colors. You’ll be hardpressed to find a dark color among the arrangement of purples, yellows, blues, and whites. It’s like a pre-teen came in and decorated a video game. Amju Super Golf doesn’t have the best graphics of any sports-oriented title, but it definitely is memorable for its loud palette. I do have some issues with the camera in Amju Super Golf: it’s absolutely horrible. The game features odd and confusing camera angles, objects continually get in the way, and the camera does not orient towards hole, confusing the player. The camera points in the direction you are aiming, so the only way to move the camera is to move your shot location. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had to wrestle with a camera so much in a computer game. You can’t zoom in the game, and the only way to change your view is the use the binoculars tool. But all the binoculars do is pan backwards from the hole location to your current position; this happens way too fast and doesn’t really clear anything up. The camera should never, ever hinder the gameplay, but it does in Amju Super Golf. The game features some basic sound effects that are not memorable, and some background music that is slightly enjoyable for the first ten minutes of the game.

Amju Super Golf features 36 holes of one or two player golf action. The game is easy enough to control: you click on the ball, pull back the mouse to select your swing power, and lift up on the mouse button to swing. The “fairways” consist of platforms you must navigate during your trip to the cup. There are some locked gates along the way, which you must open by having your ball touch a crescent moon. You can get bonuses by hitting hearts or animals scattered around the map. In two player mode, the first person in the hole wins, but there is no “par” or goal score for single players, so you can take as many shots as you’d like. The only penalty in the game is falling off the side of the course, and you receive three balls per hole. You can take the strategy of shooting very small distances all the way around the course to ensure that you don’t plummet off the end, which results in a pretty boring game. Losing a ball requires you to start the level from the beginning (instead of “taking a drop”); this can frustrate players who must navigate the entire hole over again. The initial maximum shot range is also very small (you gain extra shot range as you unlock more holes), resulting in a lot of short, unchallenging shots during the game.

Amju Super Golf could have been an interesting arcade golf game, if it hadn’t lacked good execution. The overall theme is good, but the gameplay is sub-standard. The game doesn’t have a maximum shot limit to each hole, making the game far too easy. I suppose the game was intended as a multiplayer affair, but even then it’s still not much fun due to the short shot distances and weak strategies you can successfully employ. And the camera control is really bad. The only redeeming features include the interesting setting and RPG-like character skill increases. Even so, Amju Super Golf is a game you can skip over and not feel bad about it, since it is too frustrating and too easy for most of the gaming public.