As someone who grew up heavily involved in and fully focused on football, golf was never something that I ever really found myself too interested in. Sure, we all had interest growing up when the Masters tournament would be on the TV, but that was always as far as the interest in golf had gone for me. At least until I was in my late teens and I discovered the minigolf course next to my local arcade. From that point on, any time a golf ball crossed my path the first thought would be to whip up a quick course out of whatever I could find.
Infinite Minigolf is the latest game to allow me to venture into the world of minigolf and recall those memories of yesteryear. So I dived in to see if it could bring back the same wacky fun that I remembered so fondly.
There’s a couple of ways to get stuck into Infinite Minigolf – Solo play or Multiplayer. As someone who likes to get the gist of things before venturing into the online side of things, I decided to get stuck into the single player options first.
In Solo play, players can take part in Quick Play events, Tournaments, create their own courses with the Editor and browse other created courses with the Course Browser. Quick Play throws players into either a random course or one of the select ones that are tied to each of the game’s course locations. Tournaments are the main offering for those looking at getting involved along the lines of a campaign or story offering. There is no story in Infinite Minigolf though, but instead players take part in tournaments spread across three environments – Giant Home, Nightmare Mansion and Santa’s Factory. Each location holds four tournaments, each with a Casual, Normal and Hard difficulty to complete.
After completing the Tournament mode, pre-developed courses tend to run dry, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be left with nothing to do, as those looking for new content will be wading through the vast number of community built courses – which at the time of writing sits at 945, with hundreds being added daily. Of course, not all of these will guarantee a quality course, but with so many to choose from, it won’t take long to find one that you will no doubt enjoy. Naturally you’ll find the odd created course that was made for the simple Hole-In-One, but with the game requiring a fair amount of luck to play, as well as a good eye for the hole, we can accept a couple of extra points for a cheeky easy one every now and then. Given that most of the courses you’ll play in Infinite Minigolf are user created, if there is something you’re looking for that you’ve yet to play, you can always make it yourself with the built-in Editor.
As for play itself, Infinite Minigolf is a rather simple game to get into. The controls are easy enough that you can just pick up and play, with the left stick controlling aiming, right stick covering shot power and the A button used for activating the various pickups that can be found throughout each course. Although that may not sound like much of a challenge even to the casual gamer, Infinite MiniGolf isn’t something you’ll be breezing through with perfection on every course. With various hazards found in each location, there are many things to stop you dead in your tracks just as you thought you were about to get that coveted hole-in-one.
Hazards vary depending on location, with the Giant Home for example chucking almost anything you’d find in someone’s house at you. Often, I found myself trying to navigate objects such as phones, glue, bananas and all sorts of crazy obstacles – all in a giant size to fit the location setting. This certainly brings the need for extra thinking into play, especially when you realise you’ll need to mix luck with power-ups if you want the top score for a hole.
Other than environmental hazards, players have gems that can be collected on each course. Gems are not necessary to completing a hole, but if you’re looking to stay competitive then collecting a few of these on the way to sinking your putt will certainly help bulk out that score – especially the purple ones, which add a lovely 2000 points to your total when collected.
The only other real focus to worry about on each course are in the power-ups that are available. Each course will have different ones available, with harder courses often having more of the harder to find power-ups available. These can bring all sorts of different game changing abilities into play such as controlling the ball’s movement, flying, a boost to the ball’s speed, a magnetic surge which pulls the ball into the hole and many others. It’s rare that any of these are definitely needed to complete a hole, but anyone looking to finish the hole with at least a par will want to be keeping their eyes out for everything they can grab. They will often be the difference in just how quick you can make it to the end of a course.
After mastering power-ups, hazards and just how hard you should be hitting the ball, it’s probably about time to head online. And if the countless courses and single player content wasn’t enough of a challenge for you, then where better to take to than the online community.
Multiplayer comes in two forms – local and online – both of which are great fun to play and something I will be heading back to time and time again. In Local play, players choose from one of the three environments and take it in turns to see who can become king of the couch. Online Multiplayer however is the where the real enjoyment comes from. After partying up with friends, or being placed into a game via matchmaking, players go at it in a tournament format to try and come out on top with the highest score. As mentioned before, gems and power-ups are the way to go if you intend to squeeze every last point from a course, but instead of playing in-turn, gameplay is kept flowing with everyone taking their shots at the same time. This can become a nuisance should you have ball collision turned on, but whether it’s on or off, the painful wait as another player is trying to line-up the perfect shot is avoided, with those finishing the hole first then left to spectate other players.
Unfortunately, the online multiplayer isn’t always quite as trouble free as the rest of the game, with the shot power bar occasionally disappearing along with the shot direction arrow. None of the issues were ever-present though, just flitting in and out, and thankfully don’t impact too much that they would ever ruin the overall game experience.
With Infinite Minigolf being a rather simplistic game, it would be fair to say that things could eventually get dull without anything else to concentrate on. And that’s where Missions come into play. These are a means of character progression in the game and offer a selection of challenges for players to complete in order to level up. There are five levelling missions at any given time which all need to be completed to level up, as well as three extra optional objectives that reward players with coins to spend on customising their avatar. These missions and objectives are well varied and can be as simple as getting a hole-in-one to earning a set score on one course. Whilst none are too taxing that you’d want to give up, some will definitely take some practice to pull off, which will no doubt keep players going for some time.
As for coins, players use coins to buy avatar items that are unlocked from completing matches. These items can range from new golf clubs, new ball types, new clothes, new hairstyles and more, and help make the player character feel unique.
Whilst there isn’t really much to the gameplay aspect of Infinite Minigolf, it must be said that the simplicity throughout only helps to make the game even more addictive. With each hole taking a maximum of a few minutes to finish, and enough holes to keep you playing something fresh every time, there is definitely enough to pull you back in for one more go. That’s probably something that I’d be shying away from had things been made more confusing than they need to be. Character customisation is also a really nice touch and with a community already closing in on 1000 holes created, this is a game that will benefit highly from being community driven.