Game Review

HB Arcade Disc Golf Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Spencer McIlvaine

A discontenting discappointment

The sport of "disc golf" (so named here to subtract the more well known trademark, “Frisbee”) is perhaps played more often on the Wii than in real life. Even so, the sport itself is an obvious good fit for Wii owners as the entire sport essentially boils down to players standing in place and taking turns swinging their arm. Past iterations include a turn in Wii Sports Resort and Tiger Woods releases beginning in 2010. It also appeared on WiiWare recently in Zoo Disc Golf. So disc golfers have no shortage of choices on the Wii, and at least two of them are already highly recommended by us at Nintendo Life. Is there really room on the roster for one more?

Although some other games released so far have gone with a more realistic approach (with Tiger Woods using actual golf courses), HB Arcade Disc Golf follows Zoo Disc Golf's lead and kicks it up a notch. Featuring a wacky course design that resembles geographic terrain found in nature but unlikely to strike anyone as a place suitable for golf of any variety, the settings include canyons, caves, islands in a lake, and crazy Jetson-like mesas up in the air.

At first, these courses look intimidatingly difficult. And in real life, they would be. But the game mechanics make playing it artificially easy. Too easy. For one thing, you don't ever really have to aim. The game seems to choose a reasonably good starting position for you with every “stroke” you take. Although you can change your facing direction, there is rarely much reason to do so except to throw around an obstacle. Instead, your primary decisions are simply how fast to throw the disc, and whether to twist your wrist to the right or left to add “draw” or “fade” to your throw (curving your throw, for the uninitiated). So although there may be a huge canyon between yourself and the “hole” (a standard disc golf basket for catching the disc), your player always begins facing in the right direction, already corrected for wind resistance, and you merely must throw hard enough to get over the canyon. Throwing hard means simply swinging the disc in a longer arc. It is not measured by actual throwing strength.

Again, it's not as hard as it looks. As long as you can hold your hand steady, you'll either throw it too hard, or not hard enough, but you'll always be roughly on target. There is no MotionPlus support, so highly sensitive controls are not to be found here. As a result, your input was intentionally kept to a minimum. This makes the game easier than MotionPlus-supported disc golf games, but only out of necessity and not any sort of creative design choice.

What can be difficult is that on some levels you must target small platforms (the aforementioned Jetson-like mesas) and island hop from one to the other to the goal. This is especially bad in one level featuring a giant spider that stands between you and the hole. You must island hop around this obstacle one mesa at a time. This makes for probably the most difficult level in the game because it is so easy to overshoot your landing zone. The vast majority of that course is a bottomless pit and if your disc fall into it, you may be dropped back to the beginning (with a one stroke penalty, to add insult to injury). Although aiming may be easy, judging the distance needed for your throw is not and it can be difficult to judge how much “strength” to put behind each attempt.

Most holes are easier than this, but when a difficult one like this comes up, it reminds the player of just how little input was actually required on the other holes. If difficult holes like this one are too much of a problem, the game cuts you off at a +5 penalty and moves you on to the next hole.

The game features two courses of nine holes each. This is, sadly, the norm for WiiWare games of a “golf” nature, but it is still not very many and it won't take the average player very long to breeze through all 18 holes in one short sitting. After the regular skill level, you can try your hand at “Pro,” which uses the same courses but with a different starting point, usually farther back from the regular starting point and at more of a difficult angle from the hole. But once done with these 18 holes, there is nothing more to do but play them again either by yourself or with up to four friends in local multiplayer.

Or you could try playing as one of the other four animals. Oh, we neglected to mention that? Yes, you play as your choice of an anthropomorphic raccoon, beaver, skunk, or squirrel, whichever one you deem to be the best at throwing sports. We're not really sure if it's becoming an industry standard for disc golf games to feature animals as playable athletes, but once again the game seems to be following in the footsteps of Zoo Disc Golf. Regardless, the animals don't actually have any effect on game play other than to display exaggerated reactions to the results of your throw.

Lest anyone say we over-emphasized the mediocre while ignoring the positive aspects of the game, we should point out that HB Arcade Disc Golf does have one special feature. From the title screen you can view the credits at any time and players can fast-forward or rewind at any time. Now you can watch the credits backwards. Go ahead and try it, it's actually perversely more fun than the game itself.

There are no scoreboards or any evidence left over after you have finished a course. The game seems to expect that, like a crossword puzzle, you won't really care to revisit these same courses after you have played through them once on both skill levels. To solve this problem, HB Arcade Disc Golf comes with an in-game content download client to allow you to purchase additional courses. Unfortunately, no additional courses were available at the time of release, so we were unable to review this feature.

Despite the unusual course designs, HB Arcade Disc Golf is, sadly, a very average release. If there is one truly positive thing we can say about HB Arcade Disc Golf it is that the music is very appropriate to the game. Traveling to the most bizarre edges of the world to play disc golf with animals makes for a weird trip that only new age music set to the sounds of the ocean can explain.


We suspect that the lack of MotionPlus sensitivity or any real challenge will turn off avid disc golfers. As such, we are not really sure who the intended market is for HB Arcade Disc Golf. But we suspect that that market is now officially saturated with not one but two releases in the rapidly growing genre of “casual animal disc golf game.” With better graphics than Zoo Disc Golf and none of the slow down problems reported in that game, we think HB Arcade Disc Golf wins out in that comparison. And the creative direction of the included courses is good enough to enjoy at least one full play through, if only to see how you measure up against each hole. But with limited replay value (short of purchasing more courses) we couldn't shake the feeling that, although not the worst disc golf game out there, there are certainly better choices.

From the web

User Comments (15)



shinesprite said:

The reviewers are certainly dredging the stream of games. Third bad game in 2:30 hours!



Slapshot said:

Another disgrace to my sport, as I actually play in tournaments that can have up to 300 participants at times. We also have 8 courses in my local area and there has yet to be a video game that resembles the actual sport of disc golf.



StuffyStuff said:

@slapshot82 - I want to live where you live. I have three courses within an hour of my home, one being in a neighborhood so you lose your disc to a house, and the other is full of gang members. Almost saw a stabbing last time out. Instead of spending 10 bucks on this game, spend 30 on a driver and putter and play the real thing.



Lobster said:

@slapshot82 - At least your sport has a game. I used to be a swimmer before I got sick. Can't think of any motion controlled swimming games. Though where you live sounds kind of cool. Here we have a par 3 course that "converts" itself to disc golf once a month. None of the other golf courses around here do that.

Interesting review, totally not worth ten bucks! XD (I've been amusing myself the past few days reading all WiiWare reviews that scored four or less. )



D33G said:

Strangely, better than flingsmash and hary potter half blood prince part 1.



Crunc said:

I wish this had been good. I'm actually genuinely disappointed. I like disc golf, but while Tiger Wood's 11's disc golf works well, it's on regular golf courses instead of disc golf courses, and that sucks. I hope somebody picks up the ball (err... disc).



Slapshot said:

@Stuffy Stuff... I actually got into the sport with my wife because of her parents play where they live. In all I think we have access to around 20 courses, all within a 2 hour drive radius. One of them is currently 2 full courses and about to be 3 in Pensacola, FL and it's amazing to say the least. One course is short and extremely challenging with lot of left to right shots in narrow woods and the other is super long with holes spanning 700+ ft that goes in and out of the woods constantly, but the course is constantly kept up so it never overgrows, and has tons of sand as its right on the beach. Fantastic course and like $2 a person all day to play.

I have seen a good bit of bad things on a few of our courses in the city. Mostly teenagers and drugs, as in the woods it's hard for them to get caught I guess. At tournaments though, that is nowhere to be seen.

@TheLobster.... I'm not sure how a swimming game would turn out into a good video game sadly. Disc Golf is not what many think it actually is. Disc are designed differently, so much so that I carry about 30 in my bag at tournaments, as they all perform differently for the shot at hand. Playing in the woods on trails, and beaches is what it's all about and Sports Championship on PS3 did a great job of recreating the sport, but there still hasn't been a release to get the true feel of the sport. Hopefully Discraft or Innova will jump in and get a good game for us all sometime in the future. I hope so.



Lobster said:

@slapshot82 I have no idea how a swimming game would work either! Perhaps we'll have to wait for the days of virtual reality... though weren't we promised in the 90s those days would be here by now? Heh heh. I think basically there are just some things that don't translate out of the real world very well! Hopefully disc golf won't end up being one of them and you'll get your game someday soon! I had no idea the sport was so complicated, sounds about as complex as regular golf from your description. If you get your awesome video game version, I will be sure to check it out as well, sounds like it could be pretty exciting.



ADKDGAatLP said:

Its a game with animals throwing discs around canyons and caves. As a disc golfer, I see it as a zany-fun-on-a-rainy-day, way to introduce my small children to a sport that I love. Does it seem realistic? No. Is it just like the real thing? No. Is it supposed to be? I dont really think so. It is a game. Period. All that really matters to me, is that my children enjoy playing disc golf, "Just Like Daddy" and that we have quality time together as a family. This "Disc Golf" game, does just that.

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