Hands On: Golf Master AGB

No handheld would be complete without a golf game. We take GBA's first golf title out on the course.

Every portable system needs a golf game. Granted, most portable golf games are indistinguishable from one another, but as long as a system has a golf game, everything will be just fine. Golf Master AGB is Konami's Game Boy Advance golf game. Only one hole is playable here at Space World, but it definitely gets its point across and comes off as a pretty smooth-looking and solid-playing game.

The game starts off with character selection. Each character has different stats, and only a few were available from the start, but it looks like there will eventually be ten or more golfers to choose from. The characters are prerendered and similar in style to the characters found in Hot Shots Golf.

The hole starts with a detailed flyby of the fairway and its surrounding areas, using the same SNES-like scaling and rotation features found in Mario Kart Advance and Wai Wai Racing Advance. It moves smoothly, but the trees, which are made from simple sprites, look a little strange. Your standard view features a behind-the-back view of the golfer and a stretched-out, flat, and fairly jagged-looking stretch of ground. Tapping up on the D-pad switches to an overhead view of approximately where your ball will land, based on which club you currently have selected. Once you've lined up your shot, the game uses the same standard three-press system that almost every other golf game in the world uses: One press to start the meter, a second to set your shot strength, and a third to determine the ball's hook or slice. Like Hot Shots Golf and Neo Turf Masters, hitting a shot dead center at full strength is termed a "nice shot" by the game.

The only real issue I have with the game is the time it takes to transfer from the swing screen to the overhead shot of the ball moving up the course - the game waits and shows the ball flying into the sky before switching. However, this doesn't really add anything to the game. Also, the swing meter moves extremely slowly, making it all too easy to hit a perfect shot every time.

Golf Master AGB (tentative title) is a prime candidate to be one of the ten games available at the launch of the Game Boy Advance next March.

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Jeff Gerstmann

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.
JGTO Golf Master Mobile

JGTO Golf Master Mobile