Gameloft's Let's Golf! 3D may be the first third-party 3DSWare title to download, but it's not the company's first swing at portable pitching and putting: DSiWare has the original Let's Golf!, so this new outing has to bring more to the table. In some ways it delivers, but it doesn't quite hit the pin.
For one thing, you're getting a lot more content here than in the predecessor: six characters instead of four, and six courses doubling its predecessor's three. Each character has his or her own unique skills ranging from super powerful shots to the ability to stop the ball dead on the green. These can only be used having played enough quality shots to fill your skill gauge, so you'll have to play well. If you hit a shot you really love, you can save the replay and view it later on, with 16 slots available.
Taking a shot is a simple affair: tap the ball once to start the swing gauge, again to set the power and once more to make contact. Timing is everything, but should you need a little help after the ball takes flight you can spin it with the Circle Pad or touch screen, a feature more subtle than it sounds.
Putting is handled in much the same way, but with a few unwanted flaws. While you can change the camera angle, you can't zoom in or pan across the green as you can on the fairway, making it tough to read the grain on medium putts, and all-but impossible on longer attempts. There's also, sometimes, a slight pause between starting your shot and the power bar appearing; nothing serious, just enough to put you off your rhythm. There are auto-putts, or ‘gimmies’ in golfing terms, when you're within a certain distance of the hole, which helps to speed things along, but Let's Golf! 3D's short game is weak overall.
It's a shame the end game isn't quite up to scratch then, as the game itself is commendably full of content. There's a lengthy career mode in which you increase your chosen character's statistics by winning medals in tournaments, with multiple challenges over the six courses spreading it out over many hours. There's a dedicated challenge mode too, in which you must face up to increasingly difficult objectives: getting the ball within a certain distance of the cup, holing a long putt and more. These are welcome breaks from the standard 9- or 18-hole game and act as nifty training tools too.
If you want to take a buddy out to the Links there's a two-player mode available, although it's one machine only in a hot seat fashion — no simultaneous wireless multiplayer here. Passing the console around does the job but a local multiplayer function would have been better.
Graphically, Let's Golf! 3D rarely hits the high notes: it very much resembles a souped-up mobile game, with a slightly shaky frame rate and some bland character modelling. The 3D effect adds some nice perspective to the long drives, but on the putting green it becomes a hindrance as the camera often passes through your character's head to follow the ball, breaking the illusion completely.
Let's Golf! 3D is a workmanlike golf title that plays it safe and holes out for par. There's little here that truly impresses, and although the 3D effect is occasionally used well, it feels poorly implemented at other times. This isn't a bad option, but there'll be better golf titles sooner rather than later.