Jun 04 2010

Review of Planet Minigolf


Today’s review is of this week’s PSN title, Planet Minigolf. This game was created by Zen studios who made the PSN pinball title, Zen pinball, and now they’ve decided to take on the classic fun park activity of minigolf. The game takes you to four different environments and sets you up with a course of nine of holes. The focus of the game seems to be upon multiplayer game play and user-generated content in the form of player made holes. The basic feel of the game is that of a pseudo sport gone mainstream highlighted by the over enthusiastic commentator and flashy yet vague international locations.

Let’s start off by talking about the good parts of this game. I mentioned user-generated content earlier and it’s easily the best part of this experience. Similar to Little Big Planet or Modnation Racers, all of the assets and tools used to create the various holes are included and with some time players can create, publish, and share their courses with the world. While I didn’t spend too much time flipping through the various user-created levels the ones I did see were pretty interesting and this feature ensures that there will always be something new to play. Another cool feature is the weekly tournament which is a specialized course that’s set up in one of the four worlds once per week allowing for even more continuing content.

Time for the bad news which is unfortunately a rather large chunk of this review. The crux of a game like this is its controls and this game has three different control schemes you can choose from. Unfortunately all of them have the same major issue and that is a lack of information. You at no point have any real solid idea of exactly how hard you’re going to hit a ball; this is unfortunate as this game is filled a lot of inclines, drops, and loops that require such a knowledge to not have your ball fly off the course. This problem connects to another issue I have with the game and that is the inability to restart from a single hole within a course. If at any point during your course (like the ninth and final hole perhaps) you make a mistake you can’t recover from then you have to restart the whole course over again (for the eighteenth time). While I understand this makes total sense for the multi player, it’s completely pointless to omit it in the single player, particularly as after the warm-up hole of each environment things can get incredibly difficult. The fact that this game feels entirely designed around the multi player is the running cause of the most of the game’s issues which is kind of funny seeing as for the life of me I could not get into a single multi player game, ranked or casual.

In addition to the gameplay related issues there is also the matter of a few presentation based problem. To start with, the graphics feel very inconsistent as despite the fact that the holes look really good, the environments and the characters that encompass those holes look very shoddy. The characters in particular look very early PS2 and with so few of them you’d think they could have put a bit more time into that facet of the game. As for the sound, well let’s just say that after about twenty minutes I couldn’t shut that announcer off fast enough and the music, while not immediately offensive, was very repetitive and bland.

There feels like there was a lot of potential here to make a well priced (only ten bucks) downloadable golf based Little Big Planet and even with all of its faults, diehard minigolf fans will get a kick out of this if they’re willing spend the time to learn the rickety controls. I give Planet Minigolf 2 out of 5 stars and while this definitely won’t be the game for everyone, die-hard minigolf enthusiasts probably couldn’t ask for a better title.

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