YEAR OF RELEASE: 2010
PRICE AT LAUNCH: $14.99
METACRITIC SCORE: 66
WHAT IS IT?
A straightforward simulation of mini-golf. Stages are designed to be plausible in real life.
HAD I HEARD OF IT? NOPE.
- Despite owning the PS Move (which this game supports), this is the first time I’ve ever heard of the game.
WHO MADE IT? ZEN STUDIOS.
- Zen Studios are also responsible for the Zen Pinball games.
- This game makes a lot of sense as a follow-up, and I actually enjoyed it more than their pinball games.
FIRST HOUR IMPRESSION: VERY GOOD
- Simple to pick up and play.
- It looks better than I’d have expected. The characters and environments don’t have the charm of Hot Shots, but they are sharp and well designed.
- Local multiplayer is good fun, even when playing with a child (my 9-year-old daughter joined me).
- Rounds are short and satisfying.
THIRD HOUR IMPRESSION: SHALLOW, FRUSTRATING, BUT STILL FAST AND FUN
- I found it disappointing that there are only four different environments.
- Some stages require an unreasonable level of precision to complete, given the limited controls.
- Performing poorly on a single hole can make it impossible to beat your opponents at the end of a tournament.
- Frustration never turns to boredom, because you can zip through a whole tournament in about ten minutes.
- The user-created tracks are plentiful and well aggregated. The first few I chose were just as fun as the ones made by the studio. You might get tired of the backdrops, but you’ll never run out of entertaining stages.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The game has YouTube capture integrated, allowing you to upload an amazing shot to your feed instantly. For a product that came out in 2010, this is pretty forward thinking.
WILL I KEEP PLAYING? YES!
- I am always on the lookout for good multiplayer experiences for the family, and this fits the bill.
- Best of all, since it’s turn based, you can play with your whole family using only a single controller.
HOW DOES IT WORK ON VITA? GREAT!
- This is a very good selection for play on Vita, since the controls don’t require much use of the missing buttons.
- This is not a reflex or aiming driven game, which makes it very forgiving of any lag that you might hit on a low-speed internet connection. It played great at Starbucks.
HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO PLAY BEFORE YOU CAN DECIDE IF IT’S FOR YOU? 10 MINUTES.
- Given the simple mechanics, you’ll know if this is your cup of tea in the first ten minutes. If it doesn’t grab you by then, bounce.
I’ve always had a soft spot for mini-golf. As an 80’s kid, I loved the birthday parties I’d go to that were held at the local Four Seasons Minigolf in the suburbs of Chicago — it was way better than the roller rink, and only a shade less exciting than a trip to the Galaxy World arcade. As an adult, it’s been a blast to introduce my daughter to the activity — she and I have played in various locales since she was four, and barely able to hold a kid-sized club.
So it’s under optimal conditions of nostalgia that I jumped into this game, with my trusty mini-golfing partner at my side. Your mileage may vary, but the game gave me all the warm fuzzies of being on a real mini-golf course. Just as in real life, there’s a real joy to sizing up the cleverly constructed novelty courses before making your putt. Controls are simple and intuitive, and the sound effects are spot on. Hearing the soft ‘pop’ sound that comes from hitting the ball send me right back to the fourth grade. There are only four environments, but the team has cleverly recycled the assets to make the game feel big. The easy to use customization tools are fun to play with, and they’ve resulted in a lot of good new stages built by fans.
It’s a shame that tournaments don’t run anymore, but this makes sense… the game came out four years ago. To the credit of the studio, the game’s community is still active, and the online forum is still being supported… the last post from a player was only a few weeks ago in December.
I had not heard of the game before, and if I had seen it in the store for $14.99, I’d have passed it up. But as a part of the PlayStation Now collection, it’s worth investing three hours into. I’ll present a follow up report if my daughter and I keep playing… which is likely.