My Top Five Golf Games

A number of Golf simulators and arcade games are available for the Pocket PC.

Golf simulators stick to the rules of golf and aim for realism. For swings, they tend to use a circular "C" type control gauge which offers both power and accuracy but can be a little hard to learn. Simulators usually let you select from a full range of clubs and play a variety of courses, usually based on famous locales.

Arcade golf games often bend the rules a bit and aim for enjoyable game play. They usually have a simplified interface that offers less control but is much easier to use. Arcade games tend to have fewer clubs, and some, such as Pocket Mini Golf 2, offer only one club. Courses in these games are usually gimmicky and sometimes even outlandish.

For this roundup, I took a look at three of the top Pocket PC golf simulators: Links Pocket PC, Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf, and 3D Nine Hole Golf and two of the best arcade games: Harry Putter's Crazy Golf and Pocket Mini Golf 2.

Links Pocket PC (A+)

Microsoft's Links has been the definitive golf game on the desktop PC for years, and JAMDAT's version is quickly gaining that status for the Pocket PC. The game is controlled by JAMDAT's "C gauge," which lets you select the power and accuracy of your swing. Unfortunately, you can't aim the swing by simply tapping on where you want the ball to go (green, fairway, etc.). You need to use the kludgy "rotate" feature. Games are played in a 3D panoramic view of the course. A 2D view is unavailable, except for reviewing the hole layout.

Key features give the player incredible control. A smart auto-aiming tool shows the best path to the hole while factoring in obstacles like sand traps and trees. In addition, you can tap on the screen at a nearby position and an arrow shows the direction of the surrounding slope. For areas far from the hole, you can tap anywhere on the playing field to get information on its terrain and distance. Finally, the angle of the shot can be set by a precise number of degrees.

Links is a powerful program, but lacks some important features. You can only play a standard game of golf (no matches, timed games, etc.). Multiplayer capability is limited to users taking turns on the same device (no virtual opponents are available). Finally, the 3D engine it uses can result in slow rendering times, especially on slower devices. Still, it's arguably the greatest overall golf simulation on the platform.

Links has a terrific interface and an easy way to control swings.>

For more information on Links Pocket PC, please visit the JAMDAT Web site ( Links Pocket PC supports Pocket PC 2002 and newer devices. A free demo is available, and the full version can be purchased for $24.99

Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf (A)

The Pocket PC version of the famous highly-realistic Tiger Woods Golf has more game modes than Links (including practice, match play, four ball, and foursomes). In addition, it allows you to take the persona of Tiger Woods or one of three other professionals when you play against the computer, where in Links you can only choose Sergio Garcia (in addition to creating a new player).

Like Links, PGA Tour Golf uses a "C gauge" to control the power of your swing. But unlike Links, you can tap on the screen to aim your shot, making this critical task easier. Also, its built-in support of landscape mode (which displays the screen horizontally rather than vertically) will appeal to many players. Finally, it has a 3D tracking feature that shows you where your ball is going after you swing.

Both Links and Tiger are outstanding simulators, and choosing between the two will depend on what you want out of the game. I prefer Links because of the highly customizable interface and swing capabilities. However, some users find PGA Tour Golf more fun because it has more game types, better graphics, and challenging virtual opponents.


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