FUN! FUN! Minigolf
WiiWare | Shin'en Multimedia | 1-4 Players (local alternating multiplayer) | Out Now | 900 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote
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8th February 2009; By Billy White
Golf was one of the sports that everyone thought would make a great game on the Wii. When done right, it can make for an excellent game to use the consoles motion controls, but what about mini-golf? Surely half the fun would be removed by making each of the holes smaller and easier. Thankfully, that's not the case (as the name suggests... twice).
In FUN! FUN! Minigolf, the game plays more or less just how you'd expect. You rotate by using left and right on the D-Pad, practice your swings if you wish (like in Wii Sports Golf), and then hold the A button to step up to the ball and swing. Although there are no winds to look out for here, the developers have added in a nice little touch which give the game a bit more depth.
Every time you take a swing, you must also look at the golf ball diagram that appears. In this diagram is a white dot swinging from left to right. You have to try and swing your club when this dot is close to the centre of the diagram (which has been clearly marked), or otherwise the golf ball will veer slightly to the left or right. We have no problems with this feature since it makes the basic play a bit more interesting and skill based, but it would have been nice to turn this option off in the easier levels, since casual gamers may find this slightly tricky to time correctly.
In addition to this, there is also the inconvenience of not being able to play the ball where it lands. Instead, you must land the ball in a marked zone around the hole, meaning that you have to start each level by getting to the other side in one swing. On some courses, this makes sense, but when you land in a perfectly open space, it feels unfair that you can't continue from there. One thing that is helpful about this, is that whenever your ball lands against the wall, if there is a marked zone about an inch away, you can continue from there.
In FUN! FUN! Minigolf, you can play on one of three different sets of games from around the world. You can play any of them at any time, but you can't practice on one particular level and are instead confined to playing each set "as is". The three sets vary in difficulty, starting with America for easy and then moving on to Asia and Europe for the medium and harder levels. The difficulties have been very well organised and are very suited to different gamers.
As the game gets harder, you'll find more obstacles across the stages, meaning that you have to choose which way you are aiming yourself in order to reach the end (since you can't go halfway and play from there). This requires a lot more thought and precision, but thankfully, there are three different camera settings that you can choose from to make the aiming a lot easier. These settings can be changed easily with the up button and include a side-on view and one from above.
One of the biggest disappointments about this game is the clear omission of any kind of record keeping. You can't save your high scores after each game, even though they are shown to you after every hole, and not even being able to show off the medals you have earned after showing off your performance is disastrous. To make up for this, the game's saving grace is the multiplayer mode. Each player chooses a character and then takes it in turns to have their turn. Once a player has finished their turn, the next player has their go and so on.
The multiplayer mode can be played with up to four individuals using any combination of remote's. If you only have the one remote, you can still have a game with four of you by simply passing the remote around after every turn. If you're selfish and prefer to keep the same remote throughout the game, that's no problem either, since each extra player gets to choose which remote they'd like to use when beginning the game. The only problem we have with the multiplayer mode is that the difficulties do change a bit too drastically, and newer players will only be able to cope with the easy mode at first, especially since the controls have to be quite sensitive (they are just about spot on, matching the amount of power you need to hit the ball n the real thing) and also because there is no on screen help for first timers. This will obviously cause boredom and frustration to more experienced players, but is unavoidable in any case.
One major point about FUN! FUN! Minigolf is that the game looks astounding. The graphics are very well detailed and you can see the full backgrounds of each course, as well as the other holes beside you. Shin'en have managed to make this game look pretty realistic whilst keeping the bright and colourful graphics, and we applaud them for this. The four selectable players have been very well designed as well, and despite the fact that you'll see the same animations over and over again after each hole (there is one animation for each kind score - for example, if you get a Birdie, a par or a Bogey, your character will reflect this in their animation), they work pretty well as an alternative to Mii's.
It's not only the visuals that are good though, since the sound is also very well created. There is some upbeat music to go with each level, and if you're not fond of it (although there's no reason for you not to be) then you can switch it off and listen to the environment around you instead, which we think is a lovely decision. There's also some voice work to let you know how you're playing, and although you'll often hear the same phrases whilst playing, these are far from annoying, and instead feel quite assuring.
FUN! FUN! Minigolf has taken the miniature golf game, shaken it up and given it a few nice twists. The single and multiplayer modes both work very well, and the excellent controls and beautiful presentation add to the overall quality. Sadly, the idea of having to aim for the marked zones can sometimes be a bit of a bummer, especially when the ball bounces back out again, and the omission of any kind of game saving is unforgivable. With just a few tweaks here and there this game could have been so much more, but as it stands, it's still a welcome addition to the WiiWare service.