101 MiniGolf World
DSiWare | Teyon
| 1-8 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points
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15th April 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
Pro-Putt Domo, it was concluded that the $2 game was a great example of what future developers could do with mini-golf games on the system. We've seen a few traditional golf games since then, but really only one other mini-golf game. Teyon's 101 MiniGolf World is not only the first full-fledged mini-golf game for the service, but it's also the first one to feature 3D-scale environments. Although it may seem that games like this don't take a lot to develop, you'll see that Teyon put a lot of effort into this project to make it a success.
Although mini-golf has been known to be mostly a multiplayer affair, Teyon is to be applauded for the amount of content they included in the single-player component. There are over 100 holes to play on, spread out over 6 different islands. At the start, only Island 1 will be unavailable so to unlock the next, you'll need to get Par scores on at least half of the holes on the previous island. Having 80% of the game locked at the beginning gives players motivation to keep playing.
When you start playing a hole, the intro animation will show you a quick overview of the entire level. The top screen will indicate specifics such as the island and hole number, the number of strokes taken, the distance to the cup, and the par requirement. The bottom screen is where you'll actually get to see your surroundings, control the ball movement, and more. To control the camera, you use the D-Pad or your stylus to drag the screen left and right. Your stylus can also adjust the vertical axis so you can switch from an aerial view to one that's more towards the ground. To help you judge the position of the ball relative to the cup, a small red flag icon will always be hovering close to the golf ball to guide you.
To make the ball roll, you click the enlarged image on the bottom-right to activate the 'Shot Mode'. Once you do this, an icon of a golf club will appear and you can control it by dragging with your stylus. In order to hit it, you need to drag this icon towards the golf ball and release. When a successful stroke has been made, the gauge on the right-hand side of the screen will indicate to you how much power you applied the shot. If you want to execute a powerful shot in the red zone (i.e., the maximum level), you'll need to flick the stylus in a quick motion and release. It takes a while to get used to it but before you know it, controlling the camera and playing the game will become second nature.
You'll notice a variety of gimmicks as you plow through each hole, the type that you'd expect from a mini-golf video game. The usual boost pads, sand traps are here, but so are logs, boxes, rocks, grounded fans and more. Most of them make for some interesting holes as they create room for exploitation, such as bouncing the ball off a box or a log into the cup. But there are a few issues that creep in at times. For one, the purple loop-de-loop's are rather skinny and they require a bit more accuracy than they should. Sometimes they don't work as well as you'd expect, but thankfully, they don't make some of the holes unplayable. You'll just have to get used to them or figure out ways to get around them.
From time to time, you may find yourself in an awkward position, such as behind a log, or jammed into a tight corner. Thankfully, the game comes equipped with a fantastic undo feature that will bring you back to the spot you were at before you last hit the ball. Sure you'll still earn a stroke, but at least you won't have to struggle trying to get out of a really difficult spot. It's a really handy feautre and it prevents a great deal of frustration arising from silly mistakes.
Overall, 101 MiniGolf World features some mostly-interesting course designs that contain a decent amount of variety. Players will notice, however, that a majority of the game's holes are subject to a proliferation of ramps, and this can be downright annoying at first. Because they require a good degree of accuracy, first-time players may get frustrated when they get really high stroke totals because of being a bit off constantly. The more holes you play, though, the better you'll get used to the controls, and the easier it will be to move past them. Otherwise, course designs go for consistency without ever really impressing you, whilst also incorporate plenty of areas for stunts.
For the first couple levels, you'll likely find the Par scores to be rather lenient but as you progress, they'll become more and more difficult. It will get to a point where you'll start to wonder how it's even possible to make par on some courses. But the rising difficulty curve helps keep your interest and never will you find yourself saying that the entire game is "too easy". 101 MiniGolf World also includes a points system that's not featured in most mini-golf games. Your overall goal in each hole is to aim for the highest score, rather than focusing entirely on low strokes. You'll be scored on Accuracy, Precision, and Style, which elate to how good you are with the controls, making good shots, and getting a good stroke count. The developers have simply used the traditional rules but with a spruce of innovation, and with good results.
Furthermore, another highlight of the game is the amount of room there is for personal mastery and exploration. While other mini-golf games (like Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Roll for DS) feature linear courses that don't allow much room for experimentation, 101 MiniGolf World provides players with plenty of opportunities to show off their skill level. Forget about earning a 'Birdie' or an 'Eagle'! Even beyond the initial stages, there's leeway for you to achieve an 'Albatross', or even a 'Condor'. Players can use a variety of wisely-executed shots to shoot over hills or use rocks to keep your stroke count down. You can even use ramps and boost pads to skip over certain areas and discover shortcuts, faster ways of getting to the end. Naturally, this requires some experience to pull off, but because of this, players have the ability to explore and be rewarded for skillful execution.
What mini-golf game would be complete without a multiplayer component? You can play with up to 7 people and have a customized game using a single DSi system. Regardless of whether or not you've unlocked all of the stages in 1P Mode, you can play on any island, and on any number of holes you wish. This way, you're able to customize your ideal gaming session the way you want, without thinking the game makes things go on too long. You can only register 4 different profiles, while others must choose the Guest option. So there's no confusion about who's who, each player can input they're name and be assigned a different coloured flag during play. The setup of this mode is actually quite well done. Rather than waiting for each person to wait out their turn, players take their turns in respect to the distance they are away from the hole. The top screen gives an ordered list that updates with every turn, ranking players from highest to lowest who is the farthest away from the hole. It's a different approach to be sure, but because it leads to less wait times, it works well even in large group settings. After everyone has had their turn and all holes have been cleared, the person with the highest global score will be crowned the Champion of the match!
Thanks to the game's comprehensive scoring system, there's a lot of replay value to be had. From the standpoint of the solo player, you can make it a goal to get all Par scores, improve your overall stroke total on each island, or try to achieve impressive scores on each hole. Even in multiplayer, although you don't have a direct reference point to tell you the Top 3 scores during gameplay, it's encouraging that the game even counts good performances in multiplayer towards high-scores. The ranking tables give you great motivation, not only to aim for personal achievement, but also to compare scores with family members/friends. Although the records could have listed the number of multiplayer games won per person, this unique scoring system is one of the biggest highlights of the game.
Even when moving onto the matter of presentation, 101 MiniGolf World is well done. The visuals look good for a DSiWare game and they show a similar level of texture as Move Your Brain: Rollway Puzzle, but with more detailing. The music is pretty good, and it all fits with the island theme. On that note, the island theme is a universal focus, even when it comes to the course designs. This means that some will miss the variety of other games that may feature different times of day, or even different environments. Some may have appreciated a map overview on the top screen, but otherwise, the layout is well executed.
here is one potentially-glaring issue that you may or may not encounter when you purchase the game. Some players (like myself) may observe some game-breaking technical issues with this game. You may be subject to a game freeze after your first gameplay session which will require you to reset your system. When you return to it, and try to choose an option on the Menu, the screen will go black, making the game unplayable. The only way to fix this is to delete your save data and re-download the game. But after this, the game should work the way it's supposed to. Perhaps the developers will release an update to spare future consumers of this issue, but if not, know that the problem is fixable and it should not stop you from getting the game.
When all is said and done, 101 MiniGolf World is definitely worth the price tag. The aforementioned multiplayer incorporation leads to fun gaming sessions for those that consider them fans of this sub-genre. Even when you consider the appeal of the single-player mode, the unique high-score system makes for one of the most replayable mini-golf games. Although course designs aren't anything spectacular, they've been designed in such a way that players have freedom to uncover hidden routes and shortcuts to get to the cup at the end of the hole. Sure, it still has its flaws (especially with the possibility of technical issues creeping in), but it's both rewarding and satisfying on multiple fronts.
24/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 8/10 - Stylus controls are good once you understand them, various stage gimmicks, ramps and loop-de-loops may be annoying at first
Presentation 7/10 - Some details look a bit rough, nice textures, good music to suit the island theme, all hole take place in the same environment
Enjoyment 4/5 - Playing on your own can be fulfilling, great scoring system offers replayability, single-system multiplayer works well even in groups
Extra Content 5/5 - 108 holes in total, can aim for high-scores on each hole, rewards good performance, great value for only $5
Equivalent to a score of 80% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)