This challenging minigolf game boasts well over 100 different holes as well as tools to create and share your own.
- Loads of fun and varied holes included
- Easy-to-use creation and sharing tools
- Three different control setups to choose from
- Mostly believable physics.
- Toughest holes can be incredibly frustrating.
There aren't many games that can count pirate ships, Mayan ruins, and the streets of London among their gameplay environments. Nor are there many games that, for just $9.99, afford you access to creation and sharing options comparable to those in the likes of Little Big Planet and ModNation Racers. Planet Minigolf from developer Zen Studios not only plays an enjoyable game of minigolf on the majority of its 144 included holes, but also gives you the tools to create your own holes and courses, and makes it easy to share them with other players. As is often the case on real minigolf courses, there's plenty of potential for frustration as your ball flies out of bounds or you're confronted by a seemingly impassable obstacle, but whether you're playing solo or with friends, that frustration is easily outweighed by fun.
After deciding which of the five customizable characters you want to play as, the first thing you need to do in Planet Minigolf is settle on a control method. There are three to choose from, and although aiming your shots is always handled using the D pad, each has pros and cons when it comes to striking the ball. The appropriately named easy method lets you determine the strength of your shot simply by holding down the X button for differing lengths of time. It's foolproof, which is why when you're using it, your leaderboard "style score" doesn't benefit from the same multiplier that the other techniques afford you. The three-click setting, which will no doubt be familiar to you if you've played other golf games, requires you to press the X button three times: once to start your swing, again to set the power of your shot, and then a third time as close to a marker as possible to determine accuracy. It's easy to judge your power using this system, but it's difficult where accuracy is concerned, and because you don't strike the ball immediately after the first click, timing your shots to avoid moving obstacles is much more difficult. The final option is direct control, which is easily the best of the three once you get comfortable with it. After lining up your shot, you just pull back the left stick to determine strength and then push it forward to strike the ball. You can mess up on the accuracy if you inadvertently move the stick left or right during your shot, but this system is very forgiving.
With your controls figured out you can head to one of Planet Minigolf's four destinations, which are all available from the outset. Buccaneer's Hideout is a pirate-themed beach locale in Australia; Soho holes are played on and above the streets of London; Polar Station's ice-covered courses are adjacent to a crashed UFO in Greenland; and the Ancient Valley in Mexico is home to putting challenges played around Mayan ruins. These varied locations are all nicely detailed, and their differences aren't purely aesthetic. Different hazards and obstacles wait for you in each country, and while there are obviously comparisons to be made between the beach's crabs and the jungle's spiders or London's Millennium Wheel and the pirate ship's steering wheel, for example, there's no danger of the hole and course designs ever feeling repetitive, because even similar obstacles are used in quite different ways.
Each of the four minigolf locations boasts four nine-hole courses, which in order of difficulty are labeled as warm-up, pro, extreme, and wacky. Warm-up courses are the only ones available to you the first time you play, but every time you win a tournament against AI players you unlock the next course in line. You don't watch the AI players taking their shots, which is a good thing the majority of the time, but it's unfortunate when you're curious how one of them was able to finish a hole in two shots that just took you 12. Not that figuring out what to do is a problem on most of the holes; the challenge comes from actually doing it. There are exceptions to that rule: the holes that appear to defy both logic and the mostly believable physics that Planet Minigolf employs. But they can all be beaten, and if for some reason you get completely stuck on a hole, you can always check out other players' replays or play against them online to see how they tackle it.