Western Editions Of Minna No Golf 5 Get Move And 3D Patch. First Impressions.

Deployed last July for the Japanese edition, the patch adding Move and 3D support to the latest iteration of Minna No Golf is now available for the western versions as well (namely Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds and Everybody’s Golf: World Tour).

Be advised that in order to download the patch you need to select “Online” from the in-game menu. Simply launching the game from the XMB won’t prompt to download the patch.

Once you are done downloading the patch, which might take half an hour if not more depending on how up to date your version of the game is (if you haven’t updated it in a while you might be asked to download multiple updates, multiple times), you’ll be greeted with the following title screen.

Selecting the new “Active Golf” option brings you to a dedicated Move-compatible version of Sony’s golf game which features all the content of the regular one, minus the online functionality. Yep, as reported back when the Japanese patch was deployed about seven months ago, you can’t play online with the PlayStation Move.

Also, for whatever reason, Move support disables stereoscopic 3D, which is therefore available only when playing with a traditional controller, both offline and online. Instructions about how to tweak it are as convoluted as the following loading screen illustrates.

If you have invested enough time into the game since its original release back in 2008 be advised that your progress isn’t mirrored in Active Golf, meaning you have to start from scratch when using the Move. Mind you the patch does not delete your hard earned gear in the regular mode. You “simply” have to earn it again in Active Golf.

Withe regards to the quality of the Move implementation, here are some early impressions based on a few test swings I took.

The strength of your shots is determined by the height of the backswing (you see the power mater filling up the more you rise your arms) plus the speed of the downswing. Basically the way it works seems to adhere to the following logic: the backswing height is what actually generates power. As you downswing, that power gradually depletes, but it does so with a delay, hence the need to downswing fast enough to preserve the generated power.

So there is no real 1:1 interpretation of your motions, and while the overall feeling is nevertheless that of an actual connection between motions and results, the system does inevitably fall apart as you play tricks with it.

For example, if you stop a powerful swing right before hitting the ball and then simply flick the wrist forward, the ball will most likely fly off for 150+ yards regardless. Also, rising your arms behind or in front of you makes no difference whatsoever with regards to backswing detection. Move orientation appears to be irrelevant in determining whether or not you are actually backswinging as all the system cares about is the sphere position. Oddly enough, it doesn’t matter whether the sphere is moving up or away from the camera. In both cases the system reads it as an ongoing backswing.

Move orientation is not completely ignored tho. It’s actually what makes the on-screen character animate and the club hit the ball during the downswing. Because of this (and rather worryingly so) a few times it occurred to me to trigger unintended shots as the game misread little trembles of my hands as weak swings, which is not a good thing when every swing matters and you can’t undo…

As for determining ball trajectory and spin, the direction of the swing as well as the rotation (roll) of the Move are both taken into account with surprisingly good results. After a bit of practice I was able to pull of hooks and slices pretty consistently. This is probably achieved by comparing your swinging with the data gathered via calibration, a two steps process which measures your standard swing (or rather the second half of it, from the moment you hit the ball onwards) as shown below.

One last thing to mention is the lack of motions scaling when putting. In real life, you don’t swing a putter like an iron or wood, and yet, since motion detection is not scaled in the context of putting, even on the green you still need to perform a full backswing to fully charge a shot. Not only does this feel odd, but it also looks odd, as the on-screen character putting animation naturally doesn’t match your motion.

So, first impressions are not really that positive are they?

I’ll look more into this and report back with a proper video analysis as soon as possible. In the meantime, you might want to keep your expectations very low.