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Namco Arcade Golf

For: Mobile

Crazy golf, with a side order of retro arcade thrills

Product: Namco Arcade Golf | Developer: Distinctive Developments Limited | Publisher: Namco Bandai Networks Europe | Official site: Click to visit | Format: Mobile | Genre: Arcade, Pub Sports, Retro | Players: 1-4 | Format: J2ME | File size: 832KB | Reviewed on: K800i other handsets | Version: Europe
Namco Arcade Golf Mobile, thumbnail 1
As kids, we all experimented with putting crisps in our sandwiches and mixing different sandwich fillings, like the infamous US delicacy peanut butter and jelly. If we were lucky we'd discover the most amazing new concoctions. More often, we just made ourselves sick and got a telling off.

But it seems someone at Namco remembers such childhood meddling, too: it's combined mini golf and some choice arcade classics to create Namco Arcade Golf. So is the result mayo on chips or a salt and vinegar sandwich?

Mobiles have no shortage of golf games, ranging from serious golf simulators to mini golf games that are thinly veiled opportunities to blow-up defenceless worms by knocking grenades around a course with a 9-iron.

Instead of putting your ball through a windmill though, how about collecting fruit for bonus points and the odd trip back in time? Namco Arcade Golf requires you to putt your way around courses littered with the usual obstacles, traps and ramps, before trying to sink your ball in fewer hits than your opponents, just like any 3D mini golf game. But that's where the similarities with the beach-front favourite end.

Each swing you take deducts 100 points from the 1000 that you start the hole with, so getting to the hole in fewer strokes than your competitors is one strategy. However, where there's risk, there's reward. Collect one of the carelessly discarded coins left on the green and drop it into one of the arcade machines dotted around the courses, and you've bought yourself a ticket back to 1985 to play a retro mini game.

Based on Namco gaming treasures from yesteryear, the arcade cabinets are cut-down versions of Galaxian, Pac-Man, DigDug and the ever-popular claw grabber games that still litter seafronts today. Rather than interrupt the golf with an entire wave of alien spaceships, you are presented with a specific challenge, such as achieving a set score in Galaxian or chasing the blue ghost in Pac-Man.

Win the mini game and you'll bag a healthy bonus to your score. But even better, your old-school gaming prowess is rewarded with your ball being handily transported further along the course, saving you the effort of traversing some of the game's most difficult obstacles.

As 3D mini golf games go, Namco Arcade Golf is as good as any we've seen. There's a healthy 27 holes spread across three different locations and multiple characters to play as. The 3D perspective and aiming line help you choose the best putting angle, and the shot power bar is forgiving enough that you won't continually knock your ball back and forth over the hole because you're too close to set the power sufficiently low.

The mini games are great, too, even if you're far too young to remember when Galaxian counted as next-gen. You can play them directly from the main menu, although if you want the full experience, you'll need to go elsewhere – you only have access to the cut-down versions found on the links. Which is fair enough, we suppose.

If you're a mini golf fan, you should definitely check out Namco Arcade Golf. You'll find yourself going back for multiple rounds trying to beat the tough computer-controlled opponents. However if the putting green's not your thing and only the arcade classics blip your radar, you may be better off looking for the dedicated retro title of your youth – of which there are many on mobile.

And if you like golf and arcade classics? Then you'll find an unlikely match made in heaven.
Namco Arcade Golf
Reviewer photo
Craig Poole | 5 April 2007
Mini golf and retro arcade; not so much chalk and cheese as biscuits and gravy, they're surprisingly complimentary
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