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RIP Ralph Baer (1922-2014) I really, really hate writing obits. I really do. But I take it as a personal honor to be able to say good things about the men and women I respect, whether in this industry or just in my life, and Ralph Baer is the reason all of this exists in the first...

Planet MiniGolf Preview

Nick_Tan By:
Nick_Tan
04/22/10
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Sports 
PLAYERS 1- 6 
PUBLISHER Zen Studios 
DEVELOPER Zen Studios 
RELEASE DATE  
E10+ Contains Comic Mischief, Mild Suggestive Themes

What do these ratings mean?

Because Planet Pee Wee Golf doesn’t sound good.


Ah, mini-golf - the accessible, windmill-laden, family-friendly, bite-sized, “downloadable” equivalent of real golf. Putt-putt, as I’ve come to know it, can be called a dumbed-down, mainstream, all-kids amusement, but it’s actually fun to play in real-life compared to the ridiculous gopher-hole sport delicately meant to showcase humankind’s need to control nature through the power of landscaping. What’s your handicap? I don’t care.

click to enlargePlanet MiniGolf, as the name implies, transports the traditional mini-golf course made of brick and artificial turf into the fantasy realm of gravity-defying layouts and physics-based kookiness. In four different world locales – a buccaneer’s hideout in Indonesia, Aztec ruins in Mexico, a polar station in Greenland, and Soho in England – you are challenged to complete nine-hole courses of four various difficulties. Warm-up courses will have generally kind slopes and walls around the course’s edge, but as you elevate to Pro, Extreme, and Wacky courses, those walls will slowly disappear and require you to perform feats of precision.

It won’t be uncommon to whack your ball across a wooden rope bridge, down a spiraling drainage pipe, over a river deeply embedded in a valley, or across moving bricks that will kindly direct your ball if it hits into the stroke penalty abyss known as the floor… thanks. If you’re like Happy Gilmore, go to your happy place now.

Balls can also fly through power-ups that are more required than optional, especially if you want to keep your score under par. Once the ball connects with the power-up, it needs to be activated – that’s where the feat of precision comes in. Some allow you to steer the ball with the Sixaxis controller for a limited time, make the ball stick to the floor so it won’t roll or bounce, put floating wings on the ball, enlarge the ball so that it can run through obstacles, and activate a shockwave that can blast any obstacles around the pin.

click to enlargeSome holes will have a safe or an aggressive option, which is usually based on whether to go for a difficult line with a power-up or to approach the pin with a careful number of strokes. That means players who are slightly behind the leader can shake up the leaderboard with a bit of skill, while the leader can take the safer route and hope the competition’s gambles don’t pay off.

Where Planet MiniGolf sets itself apart is in its customization options. Not only can you select from a roster of six characters, modeled between the cuter, cel-shaded Hot Shots Golf and the edgier, more realistic Outlaw Golf, but you can unlock more parts and clothing using keys earned by winning competitions.

Better yet, in a bit of inspiration from LittleBigPlanet, you can craft your own holes and courses, using practically the same tools and pieces that the actual level designers use, except more easy to use. Each hole has a limit on the number of objects it can hold, but the amount of decorations and dynamic objects is already staggering. And the best part is that you can download other holes online – that’s free content at launch and beyond, some from even the developers themselves.

For only $9.99, Planet MiniGolf may just be the best value among all upcoming titles for Playstation Network: simultaneous multiplayer modes with global leaderboards, weekly tournaments (with possible DLC codes as prizes), custom-made courses, and wealth of unlockables. Look for it to hit this May or June (darn certification process…).
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