Powerstar Golf: A Chip Shot Short of Perfection
Powerstar Golf is one of the Xbox One downloadable titles that launched on November 22nd. Zoë Mode first announced the development of Powerstar Golf in June 2013 with Microsoft Studios as the game's publisher. But could an arcade game really compete with the big-name titles like Ryse: Son of Rome or Dead Rising 3?
The big selling point for Powerstar Golf is that the game only costs $19.99 - a third of the cost of other AAA Next-gen titles!
I had been interesting in Powerstar Golf since my article about the game's developer showing off some of the gameplay mechanics. The game is a 'throwback' to the golf games like Everybody's Golf (or Hot Shots Golf if you are from the United States like myself.)
Now, I grew up during the end of the golden age of gaming (i.e. NES or SNES), but I never really had a chance to play the cartoon-y golf video games. In fact, I had never been a fan of golf and could not understand why someone would want to play an arcade-style golf game. However, curiosity got the best of me and I bought the game during the launch weekend, and I have been pleasantly surprised by Powerstar Golf.
Powerstar Golf doesn't show off the Xbox One's full potential but it still looks good!
The visuals of Powerstar Golf have left me at a very confusing crossroads. The game looks great and is full of vibrant colors, but it looks like something that my Xbox 360 could have run. Which is not a knock on the graphics but the graphics of Powerstar Golf do not really showcase the power of the Xbox One in my opinion.
On the other hand, I reviewed Ryse: Son of Rome last week and that game featured beautiful graphics but lacked substance when it came down to the actual gameplay. So, clearly you can make a game look all 'pretty' but still not end up with a great game.
I mean, I cannot really complain about how the game looks...
The graphics of Powerstar Golf don't exactly showcase the might of the Xbox One all that well, but overall I am having a hard time complaining about how the game looks.
The gameplay style of Hot Shots Golf featured a 'three click style' that was popular in golf games of the time. The 'three click style' works by having players press the button (whichever button that was depending on console, etc.) to start the power meter, pressing it again to select how much power to use and then pressing it again to set the accuracy of the shot.
This system has been in countless golf games such as the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series, and the system is basically tried and true. Having played some of the newer Tiger Woods PGA Tour games, the 'three click' is not as prevalent nowadays so it is kind of nice to return to the older system.
The 'three click' system in action!
Another interesting feature that Powerstar Golf employs involves the putting mechanism of the game. In games such as Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, the golf greens have a grid overlay that shows you which way the green is sloping. This grid then gives you an idea of how the ball will roll along the green when you putt.
The use of a grid in Powerstar Golf makes the putting much more intuitive and is something that I was genuinely shocked to see included. However, this grid does not make it any easier to putt mind you, and a learning curve definitely exists.
Seriously, the grids are helpful but you will still need to learn how to read the greens.
To add more realism to the game, you will also need to adjust for elevation change and wind direction before each shot. That makes Powerstar Golf feel quite realistic for an arcade title, and I have zero complaints about that.
However, the game does have some tricks up its metaphorical sleeves so don't think the game is simulation-level. For example, each in-game character has their own special ability that they can use a certain number of times per round to give them an advantage.
Ladies and Gentleman, meet Frank!
Frank has the ability to hit the ball farther using his "Rocket Shot" that makes the golf ball take off like...well, a rocket! The ball goes screaming (literally) through the air and sounds like a missile until it lands. These special abilities do not really make any particular character "overpowered" but it does add some variety to character selection.
If you are a fan of golf games, simulation or arcade, then Powerstar Golf just might be the game for you. It has enough realism that it can pass as a solid golf game but also enough zaniness to make it an arcade game. And for that reason, I have been playing Powerstar Golf every chance that I get.
The real downside has to be that Powerstar Golf has no dedicated online multiplayer and this could be a useful feature. The game's Career Mode is not going to last me forever so it would be nice to be able to take my characters online, and play against others once I was good enough. There is a Rivals mode where you play against other players' best rounds, but it does not really have the same feel as playing with someone else.
However, Powerstar Golf has a lot going for it and it is hard to knock the game too hard for not having online capability. Powerstar Golf features solid gameplay and looks great (even if it does not let the Xbox One shine). The zany characters and special abilities add some insanity to the gameplay, so no two rounds will ever feel the same as well.
Therefore, I have to give Powerstar Golf an eight out of ten and recommend it to anyone looking for a fun downloadable game. Did I mention the game only costs $19.99? So you will not even have to feel bad about paying $59.99 for a new game!