Everyone loves a good round of mini-golf. You can hit the “links” with your friends without having to pay an arm and a leg and you get some cool scenery too. Unfortunately, we aren’t all really able to go out and play a real round of mini-golf. But alas, there’s a solution. Golf With Your Friends from Blacklight Interactive brings the fun to your home console, and they manage to do a phenomenal job of it.
The game features single player, local hot seat, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer for up to 12 people. It also includes 4 game modes, a custom rules mode, an exploration mode, and a practice mode. The practice mode has you putting around the Forest course, but every other mode can use any of the 11 courses.
The goal of the game, like every golf game ever, is to sink the ball into the hole in the least amount of shots. Just like in real mini golf, this is a lot easier said then done. There is seemingly a way to get a hole in one on all 198 holes in the game, but figuring it out is hard, and executing it is even harder.
You control your power using the left stick, and aim with the right stick. You can hold RB to fine aim which allows you to make hairline adjustments easy. It would have been nice if they added this feature to the power level as it can be tough to get exactly the right power needed for a shot.
You can press the Y button to enter a free cam mode where you can get an general overview of the layout of the hole. The default time limit is 15 seconds which goes by quite quickly on some of the longer holes. This can be changed in custom settings however. And there’s no achievement penalties for playing in custom settings so there’s no punishment for making the game to your liking.
The three main modes are Classic, Dunk, and Hockey. Classic, as the name suggests, sees you just trying to get the ball in the hole.
Dunk mode changes the game up, by inserting a basketball hoop onto every hole, where you must try and make the ball into the hoop by using the jump feature. In Classic and Hockey, the jump feature is disabled except when you are in water, but in Dunk mode, you can use it whenever. Trying to time your jump is difficult enough as is, but the camera really works against you when you are trying to line up your shot.
Furthermore, the jump button isn’t active right away so if you are too close to the hoop when you start your putt, it’s nigh impossible to make it into the hoop. You also aren’t allowed to go through the hoop from the bottom and then come back down. That doesn’t count as a bucket. The game could benefit from mapping the hoop onto the ground so you can better line up your shots. However, with a little bit of practice, you learn when to jump in relation to the speed at which the ball is travelling.
Hockey mode changes the game up as well by including a net and goalie. The goalie “randomly” moves on a line in front of the net. This movement however does seem to have a pattern to it. This is the easiest of the three game modes to me as you just have to get it into the net and don’t need to worry about it staying in the net. So winding up a “slap shot” can be useful in beating the goalie.
Hockey mode does change up the physics a bit as the puck slides more than the ball does. If you think of air hockey, you can picture what the movement looks and feels like.
Overall, the physics in the game works well enough. You can expect the ball/puck to ricochet off the wall with certainty. The only complaint is when the ball goes out of bounds, which happens a lot, the ball can take funky bounces. This could be due to some invisible walls or weirdly shaped hit boxes on some scenic items.
Whenever the ball is not on the green, but not out of bounds, there can be some weird movement. The ball might roll even though the object it’s on looks flat. That’s just one minor gripe though, as a majority of the time, the physics works great.
The customization in the game is pretty awesome as well. You can pick from 135 colors for your ball, or use the RGB sliders to change those up even more. You can choose from 86 hats, 42 ball trails, and 12 floaties which are used when the ball enters the water. The hats I’ve unlocked so far have been varied, and the particle effects on the trails looks good.
Unfortunately, I haven’t unlocked any special floaties, but the default one looks good enough. There’s no way to tell how to unlock the different customization options, and they seem to unlock randomly as you play the game so if you want something specific you need to play a lot.
Water hazards aren’t always a thing in this game either. Some courses have you using rivers or waterways to make your way across the hole. This can make for shortcuts too that help you finish a hole with less strokes.
The sound is one of the weaker parts of the game. Whenever the ball hits a wall, it makes a thud which sounds good, though there’s not a different sound depending on the type of wall you hit. And, there’s the sound of the wind when you hit the ball with a lot of power which is a cool little feature.
Whenever you sink a putt you get a ding that kind of cheers you on. However, one of the best sounds in golf is the ball bouncing around the cup and it would have been a better sound choice to go with. There’s also no sound made when the ball enters the water which is a confusing thing missing from the game.
The score though is varied, with each course featuring it’s own theme music. The music fits with the course really well too. The Haunted course has spooky music, whereas the Twilight course is more whimsical. None of the themes are overbearing, though for my sanity I lowered the volume quite a bit on the Candyland course as I didn’t want that song stuck in my head for the rest of my life.
Speaking of courses, they are all varied from each other. Inside each course the holes are different as well avoiding any sort of repetitiveness. There’s your typical fair of holes such as the elevated pins where you have to control your power perfectly to get the ball up to the hole without rolling over the other side. But there’s also holes where you have to jump the ball over a gap, or ride the wind to land on another set of greens.
Some maps have their own gimmicks as well, like the Space Station course having gravity switches or black holes, and the Worms map featuring jet packs that allow you to fly.
Each course has its own par score to try and beat, though it’s never easy to do. You can use the explore mode to run through a course and reset your shot if you don’t like what happened. This can be useful in trying to figure out how to get a hole-in-one. The one thing missing though is being able to jump to a specific hole. You can load up the course and forfeit every hole until you get to the one you want, but this is time consuming. It would have been nice to include the feature allowing you to practice on some of the more difficult holes in the game, most of which come at the end of a course.
The most wild, fun, and entertaining mode though is Party Mode. This is the mode best suited for having a party with your friends. The mode adds the ability to spin your ball allowing you to get around tight corners much easier. And it enables jumping, allowing you to get over small obstacles saving precious strokes.
Moreover, it turns on collision mode allowing you to play bumper balls and knock your friends all over the place. At the time of writing, I couldn’t get into a match featuring 12 players, but even with only playing with one other person, the effects of collision could be felt. The more players of course, the more likely collision will come into play.
Powerups are what makes Party Mode a blast to play, and there’s a few of them you can earn and use in a match. There’s a double jump and a honey trap which leaves behind honey to slow players down. And, there’s a freeze ability where the ball freezes in place, useful for making it up to those raised pins, and a randomizer which changes the shape of the other players, effecting the physics and movement of their ball.
Online mode works without issue. As mentioned, I only played with one other person, but we never experienced lag or anything of the sort. It was easy to invite the person into the lobby and then start the round.
For all you achievement hunters out there, the achievements in this game are quite easy to get. You can easily reach 650 points in the matter of a few hours., and more importantly you’ll have fun doing it.
Overall, this game is great. The courses are varied. The holes are all different which keeps the game from becoming stale. The themes all are enjoyable to look at and the music fits in to each theme wonderfully. But most of all, the game is just fun to play. It doesn’t try and take itself too seriously, and when playing with people can provide countless laughs. Even with the minor problems, I can’t recommend enough picking up Golf With Your Friends to play some mini-golf with your buddies.
Note: We received a review code from Blacklight Interactive and Team17.