There’s not much that’s sadder than playing minigolf by yourself. Get a hole-in-one, turn round to celebrate, and no one’s there.
There are loads of minigolf games on the Xbox, so a new one’s already got a challenge to stand out. We live in a world with Golf With Your Friends, after all. So, imagine launching one that doesn’t have multiplayer. Not online, not local, nothing. It’d make you stand out, but in all the wrong ways, right?
Welcome to MiniGolf Tour, the most pointless minigolf game on the market. As you’ve no doubt predicted, there are no multiplayer options at all. You are playing on your lonesome, and you’re going to have to get excited about the prospect.
But there are opponents. Look, boot up a round and five names suddenly matchmake against you. Except they’re bots of course, and no ‘waiting for opponent’ text is going to trick us.
It’s a gargantuan issue, one that would sink any sports game, parlour game or party game. And it’s no different here.
But hol’ up, haven’t we seen some fantastic single player golf games in What The Golf?, Golf Story and Golf Club: Wasteland? Why yes, you would be correct. But that’s not the case here. Those were games with campaigns, splicing other genres to make them a true solo experience. Here, it’s just three- or four-hole tournaments against bots, with nothing connecting them except the prize money you earn.
We’ve already laboured the point. You get it. It sucks. So, what is MiniGolf Tour like to play?
Not very good, as it happens. Part of this is down to the levels. We were convinced, for a good hour, that they were procedurally generated. Most of them are modular pieces, just rearranged. This one is a jump, then some twirling blades, and then a bridge. This one is a bridge, a leap, and then some twirling blades. Aha, we understand: these courses are created from seeds or by algorithms. But then levels started to repeat and we realised that no, they’re just unimaginative and bolted on without care. You get the homogenous feeling of randomised courses, but without the benefit of an infinite number of them. All the negatives, woo!
There’s a simplicity to the levels, and not in a good way. They rarely introduce dips or rises, probably because the physics can’t quite get them right (we stayed stock-still in the middle of ramps for reasons we can’t explain), but also because MiniGolf Tour opts for flatness wherever it can. Levels tend to be a series of corridors that you’re whacking a ball down, and that means the tactics are at a minimum. Point at the flag, hoof it, and then do it again. The flatness is at its most boring on the green: as long as you get the strength of the shot right, you’re golden.
There’s no button to zoom up the course and see the flag, although there is a flyover at the start. You can aim with the right-stick, but we never did, as the flat courses mean you just need to turn your camera until the flag is central and then whack it. And you can’t cancel a shot mid-flow: if you’ve timed it poorly, with a swinging blade in your face, then you’re stuck with it, doofus.
MiniGolf does have a gimmick. We’ve held it back a little to let the complaints breathe. Its gimmick is that everyone plays at the same time. Now, that’s not in a fun Party Golf way, where everything becomes frenzied. No, in fact, it doesn’t particularly matter who finishes first, unless there’s a tie-breaker, and you can’t hit or disrupt the other balls. So there’s no actual point to playing together all at once, other than seeing AI balls pirouetting around you, and getting some weird satisfaction in reaching the hole first. The gimmick’s rendered pointless. If there were human players, it might have been fun to watch them fail but, of course, they’re not.
And the AI players will fail. They’re rubbish. There are four courses to play on here, each three or four holes long (semi-randomised, of course) and we came top in each of them within our first two or three attempts. The bots will regularly take eleven or twelve shots to reach the pin, and that’s often far more than you’ll need. But of course there’s no difficulty slider, so you’re making do with the non-competition on offer. If you’re motivated by achievements, that motivation will exhaust itself after a half hour.
If you’re not competing with challenging opponents, why are you playing? We can’t give you a good reason. If you tot up the number of holes on offer here, there are fourteen. Randomised, sure, but fourteen holes gets you to the end of the game. And this is where the final insult drops in.
Complete a level and you get a chest with coins, as well as cards. Someone’s played a lot of Clash Royale, because that’s exactly where these cards come from; they’re fragments of unlocks, and you have to hope you randomly get enough of those fragments to fully ‘unlock’ it. By which we mean pay coins for it. Yep, this is a mobile game that’s been chopped up for console consumption, and barely anything has been done to support that transition. You’re not paying actual money for the cosmetic unlocks, which is good, we suppose, but you are going to have to grind to get cosmetics from chests. Having completed the game, getting first place in all courses, we had unlocked three in total. There were dozens and dozens of others to unlock.
Without other players, you’d have to be a masochist to chase after these. We got one of nine cards that would have unlocked an ‘epic’ mech gamer icon, but the depths of despair, the rings of hell that we would have to traverse, to unlock and then show it off to absolutely no one, would have been the definition of pointless.
What a hollow carcass of a game MiniGolf Tour is. Fourteen holes. No ability to play multiplayer, local or online. Nothing to do but hit the ball hard down grassy corridors, and the grotesque remains of a monetisation store still just-about breathing, offering you cosmetics that you can’t show to anyone. ‘Mini’ golf is correct, but it’s giving it too much credit. ‘Mangled Golf’ better covers it.
You can buy MiniGolf Tour for £4.99 from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S