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A Letter to the Big “N"
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Planet MiniGolf Review

KevinS By:
GENRE Sports 
PUBLISHER Zen Studios 
DEVELOPER Zen Studios 
E10+ Contains Comic Mischief, Mild Suggestive Themes

What do these ratings mean?

Every good Tiger Woods “hole” joke has been taken.

I'm not a huge fan of golf. I played it a little when I was kid, and it wasn't until I heard about people playing golf for money (I once heard about a game that was $50,000 a hole!) that I really gave it little thought past, “Hey, that Tiger Woods is famous, huh?” But miniature golf has always been fun, and I have yet to find anyone say something bad about it... except for that one time a person in our group hit his ball so hard that it flew into the nearby freeway. Which fittingly, brings me to Planet Minigolf.

click to enlargePlanet Minigolf is pretty simple to understand: pick one of the given characters, dress them however you like, and send them out to shoot for the high low score. There are four areas and courses to shoot at the start, and as you drive and swing through them, you advance in that area unlocking new tournaments and courses. Remember, this is MINI-golf, so none of the courses are too massive or scary (or as pretty as “real” golf). And the more frustrated you get, the more cursing you find yourself saying, just like the real sport. And believe me, when you reach the “Extreme” links, you will be swearing like a sailor dropping heavy things on his toes.

But don't worry, because you won't be alone. There are power-ups to help you to speed through a hole if used the right way, like rockets that will zoom in a straight line until something interrupts the ball's path, wings to help the ball fly over the course uninterrupted, magnets to pull the ball toward the hole (if it's within range, of course), and lightning bolts whose purpose... is something I can't really figure out.

A really awesome aspect of this game is that anyone can make a custom course, but even better is that you can post them online! You're limited by the number of tools available and the locations/backdrops given, but unless you're not hooked up to the 'Net (and if you own a PS3, why wouldn't you be?), you have access to literally thousands of different holes to shoot in hundreds of custom courses. Plenty of them are basic and straightforward, but some of them can be downright masochistic. Instead of playing the given courses (which in later stages are equally – if not more – evil than anything developed and posted online) I personally prefer the expanded arsenal of links just waiting for a hole-in-one that even the creator wasn’t able to accomplish.

Which brings up the idea of controls. There are three different styles to choose from, and each of them has their perk. It depends on just how much direct control you prefer over the ball. For most, the default is just fine... pulling back and pushing forward the left analog stick is about as much control as you can get, and while it’s a little touchy and takes some time to perfect, it’s clean enough to get some solid shots. For the rookies who might just want to hit the damn thing, a single “hold until it’s hard enough” option is available. And if you want the more traditional golf-game scheme, there’s a double-tap control that should be right up your alley.

click to enlargeThe biggest issue with the game is the camera and, by association, the cramped feeling of a given course. All of the holes are perched around and occasionally on top or directly under each other, so when a particular hole is a multi-tier beast, it can be confusing figuring out just where you're supposed to shoot. And the view, when it's freely detached to give the player a birds-eye overview of the hole, gets stuck on pieces in the environment; if you're close to a forklift or an iceberg, the camera is almost certain to get caught on something and become distorted. That, and the view doesn't even always show everything on a hole if it's particularly long. When obstacles are littering the path, it would be nice to look around them more akin to walking the course instead of an aerial view like from a TV camera.

A unique personality might not hurt, either. Everything here feels like any other game of this nature would. There are so many areas and instances that I noticed could have been either improved or given some form of interest, like when a ball hits a player; it's a prime spot for various players to have some kind of reaction, even something so small as hopping up and out of the way. It doesn't sound like much, but seeing your ball go through your avatar's sandal-wearing foot takes you out of the experience (even if you're playing on a course modeled in a snowy station next to a crashed alien spacecraft). Any reaction, any response, even having the ball bounce off their foot would have made it all the more entertaining. The presentation feels almost rushed; if the devs had a bit longer to really touch it up, this could have been a really stand-out game.

If you can appreciate miniature golf, though, you can (and will) have a lot of fun with this inexpensive gem. Planet MiniGolf might not be great in large doses (again with the swearing, once you start it’s hard to refocus) but for a few rounds here and there it’s a nice little getaway. Now, back to my explitives and yelling; I need my fix.
B Revolution report card
  • Very pretty for a downloadable title
  • Wide, ever-growing selection of courses
  • Make your own mini-golf course!
  • Some unnecessary camera issues
  • Some holes are just out-and-out unfair
  • So many lost chances at personality
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.

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