I’ve always had a thing for mini golf: Both the real deal and video games. I think it’s all because my older cousin Jake showed my brother and I this online flash putt-putt game based off Live Savers candy. We were obsessed. I’ve been a sucker for mini golf style games ever since. I actually have a couple on my phone right now.
I’m also rather picky about my golf games. I’m not into hardcore simulation and accuracy. I want something that’s fun and packed with memorable courses, trick shots, puzzles, and a lighter tone. Mario Golf games are about as hardcore as I get. From the moment that I saw the announcement and Fig campaign for What The Golf? early last year, I was immediately sold on the game. Developer Triband is taking the over-the-top charm of mini-golf courses and mashing it with video game references, puns, and cheeky mechanics.
The whole idea behind What The Golf? is that any game, not just video games, can be turned into golf. It’s charming, to say the least. I was constantly cracking up while trying to get as low of a score as possible. Holes that I played during my demo ranged from tumbling a house between moving cars to chipping an actual hole into a hollowed out “1.” If humor is your thing, the puns are on point with this game. The name of the course pops up in bold, orange font when you complete a hole and almost always drew out a chuckle from me.
Mechanically, the game is simple, clean, and intuitive. Your ball (or object) has a directional meter pop up when lining up your shot. The meter fills up to indicate the power of your shot, while the arrow points to where the ball will go. Easy peasy. The challenge and joy come from navigating the wide variety of courses and course-specific mechanics.
On some levels, my ball would shoot out a sticky rope that would drag my ball to wherever I stuck the string. In others, I was a soccer ball that could be shot at any time. Across several courses, I was a bike, a goal, a cat, a person, and more. When the object I was hitting was just a regular ball, the course would often have some game changing mechanic. I saw explosive barrels, a flag that dodged my shots, blue and orange portals, and tiny children that tried to kick my ball. The ideas on display in What the Golf? were bonkers and delightful to see. There are over 100 levels that will be in the final game and I am stoked to see them all.
This game seems like the perfect fusion of everything I look for in a golf game. It has a puzzle nature to it with goofy courses that have trick shots. It’s packing memorable courses with simple to grasp gameplay. My demo may have been short, but the game’s potential and charm won me over for what will definitely be my next golf game.
What The Golf? is launching sometime this year on PC, mobile, and at least one console. Triband was tight-lipped about which console, but I personally think that the Switch would be a perfect fit with its portability and optional touch controls. Either way, the developer seems to have gold up their sleeves with What The Golf? as it is both comedic and gameplay gold.
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