Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH!
3DS Download | Shin'en | 1 Player | Out Now | $4.99 / £4.50
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20th March 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
The game initially sets you up with one of two characters: Jett and Amy. Treating it almost like a vacation, players will fly back and forth between America, Asia and Europe to play on a slight mix of different holes. By means of an interestingly precise method of control, skill-oriented gameplay is brought to the fore in an otherwise simple minigolf title. On the Touch Screen lies a main area for taps and drags, as well as an outer ring for adjusting the angle of your shot. As you move the stylus along this ring, your character will smoothly pivot around the golf ball on the top screen and a guideline will give you an idea of where the ball will travel. It would've been nicer if the guideline adjusted as it touched the outer walls of the environment, but I suppose this is partly teaching you to plan your shots out more carefully. After deciding on the direction, players will use their stylus to tap on the ball located in the center on the Touch Screen. Depending on how far you drag the stylus backwards from this marker, a circular icon will move up and down the Power Meter whilst a secondary icon will move left and right across the golf ball for directional accuracy. Not only is the system generally fun to use, it affords an amount of accuracy that's surprising for a game like this.
Although the game's title hints that the developers want you to make use of the well-designed touch control mechanism, they've also provided players with button controls. Players can opt to instead use the Circle Pad for aim and presses of the A Button to initiate back-and-forth movement of the putter as well as the power meter itself. I found this wasn't as intuitive as using touch controls, but those who aren't too fond of the main control scheme will appreciate having this option available (though I can't see why you wouldn't be).
Just like in the WiiWare version, Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! sticks to a somewhat strict boundary system where your ball must end up in the outlined areas to avoid being called out. It may seem silly at first, especially if you don't have any experience with that earlier title, but it's just the game's way of ensuring that you adhere to a level of skill right from the get-go. Thankfully the controls help you do just that. In the interest of saving time that would otherwise be spent waiting for the golf ball to stop in place and be reset, players are able to tap the Abort Stroke button (or press X) to jump right to the next stroke. This seemingly small feature helps the game stick to a fast pace and overall keeps fun factor as the main focal point during gameplay.
To make players feel more motivated to play again and again, they've included a money system that rewards you based on your final outcomes. The amount of coins you get for a Par, let's say, won't be the same amount all the way through. These values do increase as you make your way to the higher difficulties. It's for this reason that players will find it pretty exciting to be given a huge reward for getting an Eagle (which can amount to 14,000 Gold in some cases), or even the rare Albatross.
Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! also features some really solid presentation -- something we've come to expect from Shin'en with the way their reputation is. Whether you choose to play in 3D or not, you're bound to feel that the presentation is a force for lasting attraction to the game. Along with just all-around impressive graphics, the framerate is smooth whether you're shooting the ball forward or manipulating the camera; there's a great use of lighting to accentuate character models and the background structures and foliage; the character outfits are pretty snazzy-looking; and the different settings (night, day, and sunset) all do their part in keeping things from becoming too plain. It's also great to play the game with headphones on as you get to hear all the realistic ball-rolling sounds, the cheers of the audience, and the lovely music in a greater capacity. I also quite liked the female announcer, especially when she would yell "Triple Bogey?!" in an almost how-did you-manage-to-screw-up-that-badly kind of way. And, too, I liked that players are always given ready access to a manual camera, which comes in real handy when considering the different obstacles the ball needs to bounce off of. All in all, a strong showing indeed.
Not all aspects of the game's presentation managed to impress me, though. For one, I can recall a number of instances where I noticed the physics were not perfect, whether because the golf ball was bouncing on a winding path as though it were bumpy, or because it flew into the air as an object deflected the shot. There were also a number of glitches in my experience with this game, which included having the ball go right through a rectangular box of plants and bounce off the interior walls as though there was a path underneath the surface. At another time on one of the holes on the Europe Course, the ball stopped really abruptly during a follow-through as it got stuck in the middle of a rectangular arch. The game even froze on me completely, requiring a forced system shut down. It's moments like these that may not bring down the enjoyment of the game severely, but they are enough for a person not to view the overall presentation as immaculate.
If you had any experience with Fun! Fun! Minigolf on WiiWare, one of the biggest concerns you might have had during this game's development is whether or not Shin'en simply re-used the same holes again. I can confirm that there are some that are identical to what was seen in the WiiWare version, particularly with the default America Cup. However, as I will touch on in just a moment, these can still feel different when playing under certain conditions. Otherwise, yes, there are some new holes that were created exclusively for this game, but don't expect some creative executions with castles and fire-breathing dragons.
To complement the standard Cup and Trick Shot play modes, players are given a bunch of unlockables or enhancements to make the game a tad more personalized. The very first item you can buy from the in-game shop is the ability to replace the default characters with Mii's. Meet the Par requirement on a single hole and you'll already have enough to make this feature available. You can also purchase Retro sound effects as well as a golden golf set that even gives the ball a sparkly trail as it travels, just to keep things interesting.
Also available are Trick Shot qualifications, which act like access passes for new sets of challenges. In these scenarios, the game tasks you with collecting coins on three different holes with only a set amount of strokes to work with. You can earn multipliers by bouncing a single ball off multiple walls to increase your score on any coins you pick up. I found this much more interesting than earning combos for collecting multiple coins in one shot. Plus, the fact that you can also send the ball through small hoops gives it a slight pinball feel. Although gathering all the coins is not a requirement, Completion Bonuses are awarded whenever a player can make such an accomplishment. This mode isn't going to hold your attention for long and Course 3 in particular is very samey throughout, but Trick Shot is still a pretty fun bonus all the same.
Once you've racked up a large sum of money, you can also open up the Pro Cup and Super Cup modes for added fun. In the former, you'll be playing on reversed tracks with coins being added to encourage further score possibilities through the use of technique and precision. Super Cup presents another layer on top of this by adding more obstacles to the mix such as triangular prisms and diamond panels. These will force you to develop a new strategy with the familiar layouts in ways that can actually prove to be quite challenging. So if you generally see mini-golf as a "kiddie" activity, you may very well be surprised by that.
Between the additional modes and the constant encouragement to improve scores, players have been given much better bang for their buck than the lightweight WiiWare title. As a result, replay value is hardly a concern here. You can tell Shin'en picked up on the complaints issued towards the original, and it's great to see that has been rectified here. Still, it would've been great if the developers allowed you to compare your scores with friends like in Zen Pinball 3D. This definitely would've given the game even more legs, keeping players motivated beyond the initial run of plays. That's not to say the game doesn't do a good enough job as it is, but to dispel any concerns of replay value across a greater time frame, such a feature could've definitely made the package an even more appealing one to come back to. By the same token, you could easily argue that a multiplayer component would have also aided the game in having stronger long-term appeal, so either way, there was some missed potential here.
Mini-golf may not be your thing or you may have been dissatisfied with the original game Shin'en put out on WiiWare, but Shin'en has done a commendable job of making a simple game deceptively fun to play. It's an easy-to-pick-up title for the device that succeeds despite not featuring creative challenges. With the replay value giving it great potential to become a new eShop favourite, Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! is a steal for the price.
24/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 8/10 - Precise control system, physics aren't perfect, somewhat strict boundaries, courses present interesting obstacles but nothing creative
Presentation 8/10 - Lovely music, solid graphics with a consistently smooth framerate, hardly looks or feels plain, occasional glitches, good announcer
Enjoyment 4/5 - Lots of fun for a mini-golf game, maintains a quick pace, Trick Shot courses can be enjoyable, Super Cups add another layer of challenge
Extra Content 4/5 - Unlocks and high scores keep you playing, multiple modes, much more value than the original, missed out on leaderboards for friends
Equivalent to a score of 80% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System