To describe mini golf, I’ll use an analogy with movie theaters and drive-in theaters. The latter is just an offshoot product and the point of it is not necessarily the actual substance. You don’t go to a drive-in theater for clarity of sound or even the presentation of the movie. Mini golf is quite similar when compared to the actual game of golf. It incorporates the tricky putting game but in such artificial settings that it isn’t really about the game of golf anymore. Counting score by the number of strokes, it speaks the same jargon but ultimately, it is little more than a timewaster, a social event or fun pastime than a sport. So when Interactive Vision and Global Star Software combined mini golf with the handheld, you almost have the perfect fait accompli for a timewaster.
If only things were that simple. This title, simply known as Mini Golf, has some of the fun spirit of the game that bears its name. Having five courses spread over eighteen unique holes, you have a mini golf experience that rivals even the largest mini golf centers. Some silly ones include being able to play on the moon while Mini Golf also maintains the usual greenery. Unfortunately, the visuals are lackluster in bringing these environments to life. While I expected the lunar landscape to be gray, dreary and devoid of detail, the green ones like the Garden course simply replaced the gray settings with equally drab green ones. Suffice to say, the desert setting fared no better.
Mini Golf is all about the putting game and any golfer worth his or her money will know that driving is only for show while putting is where all the dough is. Over the years, developers have experimented with various ways to interact with the game of golf. It’s hard to replicate a motion so intricate and peculiar in its tiny differences with only a mouse or a stylus. Mini Golf uses a variant of the classic tri-click mode; here it’s only dual-click. You aim with the stylus simply by tapping it in the top down view. To set the putter in motion, you tap once on a button and a power bar fluctuates. Tap again and you’ll hit the ball with the reading on the power bar.
Having reviewed all the Tiger Woods PGA Tour handheld games this year, I have to say that the tri-click approach is really showing its age, especially with regards to putting. In fact, it performs worse in putting because it’s unable to neither capture the putt’s nuances nor give it an immersive feel. While this proved dastardly for scores in a full set of links, it proves even worse with Mini Golf because it’s all about putting with a deficient putting system.
This might be too harsh for a game that really amounts to a timewaster but since it’s the only thing you’ll do, it’s not a moot point. The developers tout Mini Golf as having realistic physics but that only means you can use simple theories of physics to bounce balls around a hole like a game of glorified billiards. Mini Golf also comes with sound turned off by default, which likely is a telltale sign as to where you’ll be playing this game. It’s true you can control this entire game with one stylus. It was built from ground up to be something you can play on the go; waiting in a line or cramped on a subway. A generally dark display, furthermore, makes it tough on the eyes, especially in outdoor settings. However, the controls and reliance on the tri-click mode are the real culprits that hamper it from being an enjoyable experience. Mini Golf may be a miniature version of golf but it also happens to be small in a few other key departments as well.
[07/10] Program Size
[10/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer