Awesome Golf will be very familiar to people that have played golf simulations since the late 1980s. Indeed, it's likely folks familiar with gaming have seen similar titles on computers and console games Awesome Golf is unique in that it's a portable version of a familiar-looking title, but the developers didn't just make a "scaled-down" program just because it was being designed for a handheld system. Let's face it, a lot of portable titles for all systems are just scaled-down console games. While that not be as true for the Lynx as, say, the Sega Game Gear, it's still a reality in the world of handheld gaming.
Instead of a scaled-down version, we have one for the Lynx that has many of the same features as, say, PGA Tour Golf -- a title popular on MS-DOS based computers in the early 1990s (I loved that one on my old '286).. Awesome Golf gives the happy duffer the chance to choose one of three well-rendered courses, select a character to represent his golfer, the availability of wind factoring in to play (and, the severity of wind, too), the opportunity to input a name for the player, practice rounds and etc. The only option I'd like to see in the game that's not there is the ability to choose "player profiles" so that scores, names, preferences and such could be set.
Essentially, Awesome Golf challenges the player to rank in a group of "pro" golfers in a tournament setting. The courses, as I've mentioned, look very good on the system, although they don't come close to pushing the abilities of the Lynx by any stretch of the imagination. Each "shot" is set up with an overhead view which shows the line the ball will follow if the thing is hit straight, obstacles that need to be avoided, wind direction as indicated by floating clouds and the distance the ball is from the pin. The player, upon seeing the overhead view, is given the option of "aiming" the ball in a different spot. When the ball is on the green, the overhead view shows the distance to the cup as well as the slope of the green. In other words, the overhead views contain plenty of information necessary to doing well at the game.
Once the shot is set up on the overhead view, the game switches to a club selection screen in which the player can choose (yes, you guessed it!) the proper wood or iron to make the perfect shot (unfortunately, I get stuck with the sand wedge far to often). The game then switches to a faux three-dimensional view in which the player sets up his shot. Hitting the ball correctly is a bit tough in that it's all a matter of timing. Once the shot is set in motion, the player stops a strength meter when he feels he has enough power to carry the ball over a desired distance, then must stop it again to keep the ball from slicing to the right or hooking to the left. Pressing the "A" button just write requires some pretty darn good timing, and disaster can result if the ball is not hit dead-on.
Once the ball has been hit, the system switches back to the overhead view so the player can see if his ball stayed on the fairway (or, went in the cup!), hit a tree, landed in a sand trap, was smacked out-of-bounds, wound up in a lake or came to rest in the rough. There are a lot of obstacles on the three courses here, and learning to deal with them effectively is essential -- just like in the real game. Fortunately, the instruction book comes with a chart showing the average distance the ball will fly when perfectly hit by any given club, as well as which clubs to use in rough, which ones will arc the ball high in the air thus put the shot at risk of being knocked off course by the wind and etc. One thing I appreciate about the game is that graphics are good enough to let the player know if he's fixing to smack a ball against a tree (therefore calling for a shot adjustment), general direction of the green and useful items such as those.
The sound is spartan, to say the least, but I like it. There's a digitized, girlish voice that will holler things such as "Awesome!" when a ball is hit perfectly and "In the cup!" when the player finally reaches the goal of each hole. There are some of the general sounds you'd expect such as the ball being struck but the club. Really, the sound effects are nothing spectacular, but what else would you expect from a golf game?
Of course, a "score card" keeps track of how well (or badly) the player is doing and how far above or below par he is. Sadly, I rarely finish out below par, but I've not had this game too long and am still running it through its paces.
I would love to write about the multiplayer aspect of this game, but I can't. I don't know anyone besides me in these parts who owns a Lynx, so that pretty much rules out any multiplayer matches for me. I have been told, however, that multiplayer is supported very well, and the cartridge packaging plays up the "supports 1 to 4 people" aspect of the title.
All in all, this is a very solid game for the Lynx, and something that is an absolute kick on car trips, killing time at home or wherever else. Pick up a copy of this one if you get the chance.