We Love Golf! Hands-On Preview

Capcom's first sports game on the Wii is a golf sim with cartoon visuals. We spoke to the developers in London to find out more.

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Capcom may be renowned as one of the world's biggest game developers, but its output in the sports genre has been notably lacking. With the popularity of the Wii and the success of sports games on the platform, it's no surprise to see the Japanese giant eyeing up a piece of the action. We Love Golf! was unveiled at this year's Tokyo Game Show, but we got to have a more in-depth talk with its creators and some hands-on time at Capcom's London Gamers Day.

Despite the stylised appearance, the game gives you a lot of information as you play.
Despite the stylised appearance, the game gives you a lot of information as you play.

Like Hot Shots Golf (which was known as Everybody's Golf in Europe), We Love Golf! combines simulation gameplay with cartoon visuals. The developers have stated that their main aim has been to make the Wii Remote feel as much like a golf club as possible. This means that aside from replicating the swinging action of a real-life golfer, the game also uses a first-person view during shots and lets you subtly change the path of the ball by tilting the controller. However, the game's not just for hardcore golfers; according to the developers, the cartoon visuals are a deliberate attempt to make the game appeal to as wide a market as possible.

The control system is easy to get to grips with. To take a shot, you hold the Wii Remote like a golf club and press B for a practice swing or A to actually take the shot. The onscreen display shows the target zone for your optimum swing power, so once you've pulled back enough on the swing to enter that zone, you then start to bring the club forward again. Although the game will advise you of the optimum shot power, you can choose to take an extra-powerful shot by pulling back past the marker and following through quickly. The developers haven't figured out whether they'll let you do a powerful shot like this every time, or whether there'll be some sort of risk involved with taking such a shot, but it's likely that there'll be at least some sort of limit on the number of times you can use it in a round.

Although the controls are initially very simple, there are a few advanced techniques that you can use. You can twist the Wii Remote to change the trajectory of the ball, much as an experienced golfer would, and the game will show you a revised trajectory onscreen. The 1 and 2 buttons apply topspin and backspin, respectively, whereas the plus and minus buttons switch between different clubs.

Of course, a golf game isn't just about making shots and choosing your clubs, and there are a couple of other navigational functions that have been mapped to the Wii Remote. If you hold the A button, you'll be able to zoom out and see the whole of the course from above. When making a putt, you can hold the remote up in the air, which will mimic the technique used by real golfers to analyse the lay of the land against the straight edge of the club. We also really like the way that We Love Golf! uses the speaker in the remote to give you tips and instructions, although the high-pitched voice will probably get annoying relatively quickly.

Fore!
Fore!

We Love Golf! is still in a relatively early stage of development, so plenty of design issues are yet to be finalised. For example, the course designs and themes are still being worked on, but at least eight courses will make it into the finished game. The characters are also being tweaked, but there will be unlockable characters and outfits on offer as a reward for playing through the game's courses. It's also unknown at this stage whether online Nintendo Wi-Fi play will be included, but that possibility is definitely being looked into.

It's clear from playing We Love Golf! that there's still plenty of work to be done. It can be a little bit tricky to master the game's controls, and this issue wasn't helped by the fact that it was the Japanese build of the game. There are plenty of golf games available on the Wii already, but given that Capcom's game is taking a similar route as Hot Shots Golf, it might be worth checking out. The game is unlikely to make it to Western consoles before 2008, so expect more on the game between now and then.

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