Five Thoughts about Five XBOX ONE Launch Titles Part 4: POWERSTAR GOLF

Screenshot from Powerstar Golf
Credit: Microsoft

It’s launch day! To celebrate, we continue our quick looks at titles you can download today on your new Xbox One, this time looking at Powerstar Golf. Check out the links above for our observations on LocoCycle, Crimson Dragon, and Killer Instinct.

1. Hot Shots, is That You?

It’s a little bit of a surprise to have a Sony system launch without their ubiquitous Hot Shots Golf franchise – so Microsoft picked up the slack with Powerstar Golf. All the tropes are there: special power-up shots, zany (sometimes ever-so-slightly stereotypical/racist – what’s with all the closet racism in this first round of games?) characters, and courses to match. The basic idea is to take the game of golf, which many people find, shall we say, less than exciting, and jazz it up with flashy shots, powerups, and a dash of danger and humor. In all of these things Powerstar succeeds admirably, with golfers that play differently (if only for their different power-ups), well-designed courses (though the first few seem positively boring in comparison to later ones), and golf mechanics that will be familiar to anyone who’s played a golf video game in the last 25 years or so.

Screenshot from Powerstar Golf
Screenshot from Powerstar Golf
Credit: Microsoft

2. Far More Frustrating Close Shots Than Humanly Possible

In my first 21 holes of golf (you do a 3-hole practice round to start), I literally had 7, that’s one-third, seven puts that wound up within one inch of the hole. That is absolutely, without question, impossible. I chipped and hit the flag three times, too. Basically, this game will tease you with hints of greatness, only to rip them away from you leaving only frustration and the desire to break a golf club over your knee. So, I guess it’s more like real golf than I thought.

3. Microtransactions Rule the Day

Like most of the Xbox One first-party launch games, microtransactions, the relatively low-cost way of using real money for in-game boosts, are front-and-center here. With the new “Meld” side-screen blade, the store is always just a couple of clicks away. It’s relatively unintrusive (aside from a brief mention during a tutorial), but definitely always present. It seems Microtransactions are here to stay, and if you want a leg-up on your friends right out of the gate, or just really hate grinding and have some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, Microsoft is there for you.

Screenshot from Powerstar Golf
Screenshot from Powerstar Golf
Credit: Microsoft

4. A Golf Game is a Golf Game is a Golf Game

If you’ve played one arcade golf game you’ve played them all? Well, yes, at least to a point. You have the clubs, the power-ups, and the basic three click mechanic (fill up power bar, try to hit accuracy line). While Powerstar Golf has some unique trappings, ultimately this is a golf game, and you should know by now what to expect. It’s a lot of fun, and a leisurely game to play between your hectic multiplayer matches.

5. No Kinect Support is Strange

The Kinect is required, and in fact packed in, with every Xbox One. So where the heck is the Kinect support in the first party titles? Outside of some limited motion and shouting in a couple of them, there’s not a lot – certainly no “feature title” for the improved camera device. It would seem like a golf game would be ideal for such a thing – certainly, Nintendo has had success with their motion-golf games. I would’ve expected there to at least be a Kinect-only driving range or some kind of showcase of the device here. With that, it could have been a unique game with an extra that lets you see what this shiny new toy is all about.

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