This little piece of PSN software has hit us at an unfortunate time. While most golf fans will be concentrating on the latest Tiger Woods installment, the folks over at Zen Studios will be shaking their heads wondering why the powers that be decided to release their game at the same time as Tiger Woods 11.
Sure, some PSN titles are able to stand up (and even trump) highly anticipated AAA releases, but unfortunately Planet Minigolf doesn’t have a lot going for it from the beginning. Unless, of course, you’re obsessed with the 90s.
Planet Minigolf is Zen Studios’ attempt at reviving the long-dead fascination of minigolf by throwing in a few zany characters and an electric guitar-driven soundtrack. If you don’t think that combination could ever work, you’d likely never get a job working for Zen Studios. Somehow, the team has managed to take an average idea for a PSN game and turned it into one of the most annoyingly juvenile releases you are ever likely to encounter.
Sure, the gameplay is tidy, and the decision to include PlayStation Move accessibility is acknowledged, but when you have to turn off the sound and imagine that your character doesn’t in fact look as startlingly ridiculous as he appears in order to enjoy the minigolf, there’s something very, very wrong with the core of the game.
Despite the emphasis on career mode, Planet Minigolf is much more tolerable in small doses. Gamers can take on more than 140 individual holes throughout the entire game, many of which provide a frustratingly enjoyable experience. The development team has done a sound job of knocking out some of the kinks and bugs, although a patch in the near future seems necessary. Still, after mastering the controls, each nine-hole round will flow well – not mentioning the intermittent shouts of “how the hell did my ball end up there?”
Upon choosing a course, you will be given the choice of four difficulty modes (three of which are locked until you achieve certain goals) and the option of playing on a custom course. Custom courses are designed to incorporate the build tool that is surprisingly well implemented, and despite the game having only been out since the beginning of the month, there are literally scores of user-created/edited courses already available. Fans of LittleBigPlanet won’t find anything revolutionary here, but, if you have the patience, Planet Minigolf’s build tool is an enjoyable time waster.
While building and playing on quirky custom courses is a highlight of the game, it’s unfortunate that the elements surrounding it are so lackluster. It seems that the developers tried to find a balance between creating an accessible golf title and one that would appeal to the younger generation; instead, they have achieved neither, and only end up alienating gamers with poor customization options and ear-bleedingly annoying sound and commentary.
It’s a shame that the game offers so much in the way of online play and course building capabilities, both of which are outstanding and worth coming back for, but destroys whatever intention of fun there was initially by amping up the “crazy Uncle Joe” factor. A PSN title worth $12.95 US should never make a gamer regret their purchase.
Unfortunately, despite some solid gameplay on the course, that is exactly what many Planet Minigolf buyers will feel. Regret that it could have been an enjoyable multiplayer experience. Regret that it could have been a pleasant game to play with the kids. And yes, regret that they just spent $12.95 when there are countless superior titles worth half that much.
At the end of it all, Planet Minigolf will only please gamers with a love of building golf courses. The condescending nature of every hole brings the entire atmosphere of Zen Studios’ title to its knees, and with that the respectability of the developer. The marketing team needs to go back to do their research, because for a game that includes a complex course building tool and ridiculous difficulty settings, this certainly seems like it was intended for children.
Not spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, especially for a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Still, the sheer diversity of each course is enough to whet your visual appetite.
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There are plenty of bugs to frustrate the discerning gamer, but the basic gameplay, after mastering the controls, is solid.
If I haven’t already made it clear in the review: the audio is pure garbage.
There are a few reasons to come back to the game. Unfortunately, none of them involve playing minigolf.
Planet Minigolf offers flashes of brilliance, but these are far outweighed by the amateur development decisions and a general lack of respect for the gamer.