Back in 2006, when I got my Wii on launch day, one of my favorite games (even a few weeks later) was the golf game in Wii Sports. Golf is a good game to use with motion controllers due to the simple nature of the controls, so it's no surprise that the Wii has seen at least a half dozen golf games in its library to date. Now, with the PS3 adding its own motion control with the PS Move, you can expect a similar trend. Zen Studios, makers of Planet Minigolf, are taking advantage of the Move by updating the game to support it. I actually had not played Planet Minigolf before trying it out on the Move, so let's take a closer look...
Under Par -- And That's A Good Thing In This Case
Planet Minigolf is an arcade style mini-golf game with a variety of scenic and wacky courses. With support for five player local play and online matches and tournaments, as well as the ability to build, share, and play user-made courses, there's a significant amount of replay value here for anyone that enjoys the game.
To get you started, you can choose between five different playable characters, including Brian the prototypical punk-looking dude who I went with. Each character's appearance can be customized as well. Besides the name and appearance, the golfers all have the same 'feel,' so there are no inherent differences between the characters in terms of playability and skill.
Originally, when Planet Minigolf was released, it only supported the DualShock 3, but now it supports the Move. Besides the added enjoyment that comes with standing up and playing the game as though you're actually putting, using the Move in Planet Minigolf has another advantage -- it gives you a 3X Style bonus, which goes towards your point total. With the Move Remote, you have full control over the game, no need for a DualShock or the Navigation controller. Granted, navigating the menus is a tad cumbersome with the remote, as you have to hold down T and then flick the remote in the direction you want to go, but it certainly works well enough. As far as the in game control, where it really counts, I thought Zen's addition of the Move went nicely.
There is no calibration to complete, which was kind of a nice surprise, and you're up and putting in no time. To aim your putt, you simply hold the Move button and then rotate the remote to adjust the angle of the shot. Then, when you're ready to putt, hold the Move button and press the T button. Simply pull the remote backwards slightly and then move it forwards, just like you would to putt a ball in real life. I had to get used to the fact that the real power in the shot comes from following through, rather than just swinging back and then pulling up as I struck the ball. Once I continued to swing through, then the power meter, and therefore the behavior the ball, went as expected -- that is to say, at least for the most part. It takes some practice, understandably, but you can definitely get to where you're consistently hitting the ball the way you want to with the remote.
Making contact with the ball and getting comfortable with the power you put on the ball is one thing, but the courses will provide you with many additional challenges. The holes are spread across the world in different thematic locations, including a Mayan jungle and polar outpost. The new Stronghold Island DLC adds another spot whose holes are built around a castle that overlooks an ocean. The thematic look of each course is welcomed, as are the different challenges that each brings. The courses vary wildly, and include all sorts of obstacles, terrain changes, moving objects, narrow paths, loops, etc. There are also power-ups that you can use that give you additional bonus abilities such as giving the ball a rocket boost (to get through a loop perhaps) or giving you precision control as the ball slows to a stop. The game, with the Stronghold Island DLC pack, gives you around twenty holes to play on. In addition to these, however, there are literally thousands of free user-created courses to play that are created with ratings to help you filter your search.
Planet Minigolf in single player is good for practice and for spurts of fun, but the best experience to be had is with friends, especially in local play. Not unlike golf in Wii Sports, making fun of each others shots and reveling in well executed trick shots is enjoyable. Still, the CPU AI is competent and will provide you with a reasonable challenge, too.
With that, let's get to the summary...