Review: Infinite Minigolf (PS4)

IMG_art.jpegAn apt title if there ever was one, Infinite Minigolf ($14.99 on PSN) is yet another successful attempt by Zen Studios to monopolize all your free time. While it’s short on included courses (three variants with scaled difficulty with two more on the way), a fairly easy to use course editor will hook you in and extend the lifespan somewhat, um, infinitely. The pick up and play appeal is high right out of the gate so casual to expert players can hop in and start putting away within a short amount of time.

In fact, the game relies so much on players just diving in that it eschews any sort of tutorials or tips popping up in your face every few seconds. Of course, I’m not sure many gamers groove on announcers blabbing away while they’re trying to sink a 30-yard putt around a spinning radio control 4×4. But this game is almost too calming with the super-clean HD art, relaxing mall muzak score and cheery-looking generic characters. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. This is exactly the sort of game to relax with after a crazy day (or after watching the evening news, ha-ha).

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There’s a character creation function here, but you’re initially limited to a handful of basic male/female looks and outfits. Pretty much everything else has to be bought using in-game money or cards collected or purchased as rewards during play. Many items are restricted to higher leveled players (yes, there’s a very light RPG-like progression system here), but no one will make fun of you for wearing the same outfit you started the game with because it’s all about the gameplay and courses when all is said and done.

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Controls are dirt simple. Choose your course, select where you want your guy or gal to putt from using the left stick and once you’re set, swing away with the right. You can also choose to get a wider preview of the course before you play by pressing the square button (which comes in handy on some of the wilder courses in the main game as well as some user-generated ones). If you hop into the easiest mode in solo play, expect to get a bunch of holes in one and a nice grin on your face for good measure. Solo play is pretty much set up to ease you into things with increasingly challenging (but not impossible) courses in each of the three areas.

Ball physics are quite solid on the main game’s courses, but on some main game and user-created courses, you might run into an issue where your ball gets stuck behind an obstacle if it flies out of bounds and your next shot is behind the obstacle (oops). Occasionally on some not-so well made user courses, your ball might get caught in a near-endless back and forth rolling jig thanks to an odd angle you might not have hit if you swung a bit harder or not hit something that slowed the ball down in the first place. That said, the use of power-ups, obstacles and assorted mechanisms to get your ball traveling around is excellently implemented throughout the main game’s modes.

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In addition to the solo mode, the game supports local multiplayer and online multiplayer tournaments for up to 8 players. Or you can try out random user-made courses in Solo or Quick Play mode, a terrifically nutty way to see how creative or not your fellow players are. While there are a load of great courses, one of the drawbacks to the game is the wealth of super-simple one shot courses set up for easy-peasy rewards. Admittedly, I’ve played a few of these just to rack up some fast coins and cards in order to get a new in-game t-shirt or other accessory.  But let’s just call those “experiments” and leave it at that.

My own preference outside the main game is to just pick a stage and flip through user courses, playing the ones that look challenging. I did create a course of my own that’s a bit devilish, but I need to get a higher score so I can post a video at some point in the near future. The funny thing is the game will only approve a user-made course if you can complete it in under a certain amount of strokes. I did that, but for some reason, I haven’t yet beaten it. Eh, I blame my backlog. Or something. In any event, while not too difficult to use, that editor could really use an optional guide for players who might not grasp everything it has to offer.

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In the end, the game is quite enjoyable despite the generic (but nicely rendered) characters, a few quirks with the camera and perhaps way too many easy user courses. You can filter most of those out, by the way or even better, spend some time cooking up something you’d love to share with others. All you get for it is an emoji ranking, but good, bad, or indifferent, you’ll have gotten a bit of attention for that hard work. Of course, if your course is good enough that Zen picks it to add to its recommended list, then you can puff out your chest and go order an Arnold Palmer and strut around like you won some big deal tournament.

As for the future, as noted earlier, Zen has (at least) two more courses in the works, but release dates on either have yet to be announced. It’ll be interesting to see what turns up as additional content, but it’s a sure bet that it’ll be worth the wait.

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Score: B+ (85%)

-GW

Review code provided by the publisher.

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