Radica
Golden Tee Golf
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Review: At $9.94, Radica Golden Tee Golf is a pretty solid last-minute gift

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Last week I mentioned this Golden Tee Golf CrunchDeal and said that I’d even buy it for myself. Well you may have thought, "That Doug, he’s all talk — sitting up in his mansion atop a pile of free gadgets, he’d never stoop low enough to buy a plug-and-play TV game for ten bucks."

I’ll have you know that I did indeed purchase the game and I’m happy to report that it’s a perfect gift to give to someone that you HAVE to get a gift for but want to spend the absolute least amount of money possible while still making it look that you put some thought into it.

So, on to the review…

Price:

It’s $9.94 at Target. You’d spend more than that on a $10 gift card, which is widely thought to be the smallest socially acceptable denomination to give to someone as a gift.

Look and Feel:

It’s solid. Bigger and more substantial than I thought. It doesn’t feel cheap — well, it doesn’t feel $9.94 cheap. It feels more like it should be in the $50-$60 range. The controller is a near-exact replica of the Golden Tee board you’d find in your local bar, just shrunk down to about a fourth of the size. It’s got little hand grooves underneath it on either side and the bottom-middle of the thing is molded perfectly to sit on your leg.

The trackball is quite a bit more stiff than the big-boy bar version but, who knows, maybe it’ll loosen up if I were to replicate some real-bar scenarios like spilling beer on it and rubbing pizza grease all over it. Ewww.

Graphics:

Imagine your Gameboy Advance blown up to your TV screen. Maybe your Gameboy Color, actually. No, it’s better than that, actually. Calling it akin to PGA Tour on the Sega Genesis would be a stretch but it’s a little better than 8-bit graphics. Everything’s top-down, no in-flight ball cam or anything like that. Maybe we could agree on TurboGrafx-16 quality – not actually true 16-bit, but an 8-bit CPU with a tricked-out GPU.

I don’t know. Don’t buy it for the graphics. Buy it for the love of golf.

Gameplay:

The swing mechanics are identical to the bar versions, which is a good thing. You can hit the backspin button before your backswing and apply fades, hooks, draws, and the like by pulling back and pushing forward on the trackball in different directions. You can even pull of the no-backswing swing. Just push the trackball forward and you’ll hit the ball.

You don’t get the behind-the-golfer view like you do in the bar versions. Instead, you get a view of your golfer in a little window in the upper right hand corner of your screen superimposed over a top-down view of the course. It feels a little different, but it’s not bad.

People with no human friends and/or people who are almost 30 years old and still play plug-in TV games (me) will find that, while a table for one can be fun, there’s something missing when you can’t even play against a CPU opponent. You can play together with up to three other human players, so keep that in mind if you indeed foster face-to-face human relationships.

Course Selection:

It’s bad! There’s only one course. It’s nice and varied, but I can see it getting old quickly. My secret is that I bought the game and had it sent to my parents’ house, where I’m currently visiting for the holidays. I’ll leave the game here – brilliant! – and just play it whenever I visit, so it’ll seem new to me because I’ll forget all about it between trips.

Recommendation:

True Golden Tee addicts have so-far scoffed at Radica’s attempt, returning lukewarm customer reviews. But that was back when the thing cost around $50. For under $10, it’s hard to find too much to complain about. These little guys might not last long and, again, they make pretty good last-minute gifts for the marginally-important people in your life.

Radica PTV Golden Tee Golf [Target]

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