Despite the efforts by other publishers to bring their most popular franchises to Windows Phone 7, the format holder seems fairly reluctant to follow suit. Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst arrived shortly after launch and a mobile version of Halo: Waypoint fell short of offering any kind of actual gameplay, but aside from this Microsoft Game Studios has concentrated mainly on new intellectual properties (IPs) and dual-format compatible releases, such as the recently launched Full House Poker. You might think that Fable: Coin Golf is set to kick-off a new campaign of well known franchises making their way to Windows Phone 7, but from the looks of their schedule, it seems likely that it will remain a slight offering for some time.
On that note, is Fable: Coin Golf strong enough to support the platform for fans of Lionhead Studios’ most popular franchise? No, not really. Though it is an enjoyable game in its own right and perfectly in-keeping with the Fable franchise, it’s not likely to become considered a ‘killer app.’ for Windows Phone 7 any time soon. Instead, what we have here is an extension of the franchise into new areas much like the Xbox LIVE Arcade release, Fable: Pub Games.
Players of Fable: Coin Golf will be engaged in a cross between crazy golf and shove ha’penny, drawing a target trajectory back from the centre of their on-screen puck and releasing it to watch the outcome of their shot. The player must reach the exit of the level (designated by a glowing beam of light) in as few strokes as possible, gaining bonuses for rebounds and other interactions within the arena. A target score must be achieved to earn either a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal, and failing to do so will main the later stages remain locked. Beginning simply, providing merely coins to collect and trees as obstacles, Fable: Coin Golf gradually introduces new aspects to the game, including enemies, water traps and three power-ups.
The power-ups are of course designed to aid the player to combat the obstacles presented on the stage, as each stage is designed with a specifically intended route for achieving that Gold. Of the three, the power-ups allowing you to remove trees and enemies from the stage without penalty are the two most regularly occurring, and if once such power-up is presented you can typically predict that the stage will require it’s use at least once.
Those who are successful will earn currency that can be transferred to Fable III on either Xbox 360 or PC as was revealed prior to release, but additionally gamers can earn unique weaponry for their Fable III character by completing each Chapter. There are three Chapters in total, each offering fifteen increasingly difficult stages. To complete Fable: Coin Golf isn’t exactly a significant challenge, but to achieve Gold on every stage most certainly is.
Though it’s presented with the same ‘ye olde English’ charm as its bigger brothers, the mobile version of Fable is decidedly more limited in story, and visual design. The three characters (one in charge of each Chapter) offer a surprising amount of individual personality and the 3D character models are respectably detailed, it’s just that there’s not enough of it to consider Fable: Coin Golf as a competitor in the visual stakes on mobile formats.
As an extension to the Fable franchise, Fable: Coin Golf shows a rare understanding of the source material and host format. A toned-down handheld version of a Fable adventure may be what many gamers think they want, but in actuality it would pale in comparison to the home console editions of the series, and so Microsoft Game Studios has done well to play it safe. Fable: Coin Golf is an utterly enjoyable high-quality mobile game experience either with or without a prior investment in the franchise, and while it may not be breaking any ground for mobile entertainment it remains an easy recommendation.