Game Over Online ~ Diesel Minigolf

GameOver Game Reviews - Diesel Minigolf (c) Inmar Software, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Diesel Minigolf (c) Inmar Software
System Requirements Pocket PC
Overall Rating 81%
Date Published Friday, November 23rd, 2001 at 05:10 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

One timeless American pastime seems to be the introduction of mini-golf. Indeed, at one of my local malls, the same mini-golf course of 18 holes operated for almost half a decade before it had to close down. How many rounds of mini-golf could one person take before it became all too boring? Mini-golf, in reality, has about as much to do with golf as the Harlem Globetrotters have to do with competitive basketball. Inmar's treatment of it is no different.

The piece de resistance of this title is really the Diesel engine. I think the mini-golf game is merely a motif for the developers to show what they can really do with a proper 3D engine in a Pocket PC environment. Diesel Minigolf (DM) has the ability to support up to four (hot-seat) players on a set of 18 holes all rendered in luscious 3D textures. The vibrant colours of obstacles, water hazards and trees all show the strength of the underlying engine that powers this title. As attributed to all 3D engines, you have the opportunity to rotate (though not in complete 360 degree freedom) and zoom to adjust your gameplay. I have always found these features on the PC platform to be a bit spurious and more for aesthetics. Usually, people will rotate or zoom to get a better look at the action and unless there is an obstacle, the human mind can usually adapt to the changing spatial elements on-screen. In DM, it becomes useful to rotate or zoom not only because of obstacles but also due to some of the brutal course designs, which feature sudden drops or climbs in height. Some layouts even force you to do a quick right angle turn. Obviously none of these are standard golf fare but like my analogy with the Globetrotters, you are here really to pull off trick shots.

Alongside an impressive visual engine, DM also includes a wide variety of sound effects from the usual ambient water sounds or birds to an easy-listening soundtrack. Audio can be quickly toggled on and off. To actually perform a stroke, you simply tap on the screen and drag towards the ball as if your stylus represented the blade of the putter. This is a pretty immersive way of doing it. Indeed, one of the primary challenges other golf titles made to the de facto PC franchise, Links, was the concept of swinging with your mouse. Of course, this increases the chance for foul-ups because our motion will never be as perfect as the classic three-click swing that Links pioneered. In DM, you have to be even more mindful since the space you have to work with is smaller and the margins for error even less. You are definitely not going to make any pars if you play on a moving train or subway.

With that said, the developers did not exactly aim this title at the golf enthusiast. They call each stroke you make a hit and count the nominal par for each hole as a plural "hits". The golf aids that one is accustomed to in traditional golf games seem to be missing as well. When you initiate the overhead map, you get a clear direction where the ball must travel with arrow indicators. However, height perception in this game is a little hard to visualize and is not helped by the uniform green colours that run rampant everywhere. In a typical golf game, an overhead grid is applied to illustrate the various depressions throughout the green. This helps the player identify breaks he or she might use to propel the ball towards the hole. Such a feature appears lacking in DM.

Inmar has definitely shown that a slick 3D engine is possible on the Pocket PC platform. DM is a visually attractive game and the audio-visual mélange it presents is enticing. However, with only 18 holes and the inability to automatically generate some replay value has to be questioned. The eye candy is not entirely without its faults. Zoom in extremely close and you will see the quality of the textures degrade. Moreover, it lacks some of the features and feel of real golf games. Yet after seeing this title in action, I believe a full-fledged golf game is definitely not out of reach for these developers.

[08/10] Addictiveness
[17/20] Gameplay
[14/15] Graphics
[07/10] Interface/controls
[07/10] Program Size
[05/05] Sound
[03/05] Discreetness
[12/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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