Planet Minigolf Review

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Planet Minigolf Publisher: Zen Studios
Developer: Zen Studios

Platform: PlayStation 3
Reviewed on PlayStation 3

If you've always dreamed of becoming an NBA star or professional football player, perhaps you didn't know that professional miniature golfers spend most of their lives lounging around on a private island, putting off the pier, and flying around the globe for professional tournaments. That's certainly what happens in Planet Minigolf, so prepare for the glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle that only mini-golfers can afford.

Kyle Ackerman

When reviewing, I do my best not to approach play with any preconceptions, lest I prejudge. To be honest, when loading up Planet Minigolf for the first time, I wasn't exactly thrilled to be taking on an inexpensive minigolf game. Sure, I love the occasional trip to do some wacky putting, but I simply had no idea what an impressive job Zen Studios did with Planet Minigolf. After only a few holes, I was hooked. After many holes, I discovered that Zen Studios had really created three different (and seriously entertaining) games, all in the same miniature-golf wrapping.

The game I expected (although far more polished and refined than I dared hope) is the game offered by the "Warm-Up" and "Pro" modes. Courses are located in trendy London, Mesoamerican ruins, a polar research station and a piratical hideout. These basic modes offer what you expect from miniature golf – simple courses where a few tricks or obstacles must be overcome to reach the hole. With multiple available control schemes, the golf is remarkably precise.

That leads to the second game – trick shots. The real excitement and challenge in Planet Minigolf comes from surpassing basic shots with fancy trick shots that bank unnecessarily for extra points. My favorite version of Planet Minigolf involves making the most unnecessarily elaborate shot I can manage to rack up the high-scoring trick scores. The true Planet Minigolf isn't about simple grace, it's about gratuitous showmanship, and accumulating up a truly absurd score. To this end, the courses are often littered with aerial shortcuts and power-ups that make it possible to surpass ordinary shots with bonuses like rocket power, a ball that clings to the surface, or a ball with wings. Truly impressive trick shots require the power-ups, especially the one that gives manual control over the ball.

The third game in Planet Minigolf is a straightforward puzzle game. In the "Wacky" mode (and sometimes in "Extreme"), there's typically one right shot. The challenge is in figuring out exactly how and where (and how hard) to hit the ball. These holes are more puzzles than sports challenges as they're a matter of figuring out what the designers intended. While satisfying, this game differs from ordinary golf, and it has more in common with typical physics puzzlers.

Making everything in Planet Minigolf work is the exceptional physics of the game. The ball moves and bounces as you think it should, making the game intuitive and far more fun than if there were an extensive learning curve. It also makes most of the power-ups intuitive. It's easy to instantly see that making the ball large will allow it to roll over minor bumps, while making it heavy will cause the ball to plummet and land with a thud rather than a high bounce.

If you want real entertainment, Planet Minigolf recently added support for the PlayStation Move, so that you can actually translate your swing directly into an in-game putt. The integration of Move support is solid, and makes the Planet Minigolf even more immersive. Using the Move accessory is optional, but adds an entirely new dimension to the game if you want your putting to feel real.

Aside from being a solid miniature golf game, Planet Minigolf has everything a mini-golf game needs to capture me. The courses are filled with decorative trappings ranging from pirates and vertical loops to live snakes and spiders. There are enormously customizable avatars (I can't help but golf with an umbrella as a club) and gorgeous courses with different themes. If I have a real objection, it's only that the color commentary is limited enough that it quickly becomes repetitive.

Planet Minigolf is already more than enough game to be well worth the money, but it also allows players to create and share holes and courses. That means there is a nearly unlimited supply of courses to play, and the ability to create the course of your dreams and get feedback from other players. It's impossible to do anything but wholeheartedly recommend Planet Minigolf, especially at its accessible price.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on October 11, 2010 4:37 PM.

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