Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – Party Golf
Developed by a small team named Giant Margarita, Party Golf is the first current console release for a team from Australia’s tiny island state, Tasmania, which in itself is worthy of praise. Tassie isn’t exactly known as a development hub, though thanks to the work of several game industry stalwarts (including writer extraordinaire and friend of Player 2, Jason Imms), it’s slowly starting to build itself a creative hive, in which Giant Margarita finds itself perched firmly at the front and centre of.
Party Golf is a colourful, 2D physics game available on PS4 and Steam that incorporates local multiplayer and a frankly stupid number of variations of game modes and settings to give a fast and fun couch-play experience. Literally millions of gameplay options are at your fingertips, giving scope for a sense of variety not seen in many other games of this type. However, without friends to enjoy this one with, Party Golf does little to excite beyond offering a few minutes of fun.
The premise itself is quite simple – all the balls start together on the map and everyone tries to shoot the ball into the hole at the same time. The first player to sink the ball wins that hole, and a new hole is loaded, starting the process again. This goes on until at least one player reaches both 500 points for the round and wins that hole, then that player is the winner. If more than one player reaches 500 points but fails to win the hole, the game keeps going until someone with over 500 points wins a hole – then that person wins. Get it?
Levels are randomly generated, so be prepared for a hit and miss experience. Some can be incredibly fun, with challenging jumps to cross, or caverns to find your way through. Other times they can lead to nothing but frustration, particularly if your ball starts in a disadvantaged position. On a few occasions, we’d have a level generate where at least one player found it completely impossible to shoot for the hole, all because they were spawned in a spot that would lead to the ball shooting off screen and out of bounds, no matter how many different ways they tried taking a shot. It’d be nice to see this smoothed out, as I have yet to have a full game where this particular problem doesn’t occur, undermining the real tension that comes when a close match is nearing its conclusion.
That aside, the variation in settings and game modes is wonderful. Giant Margarita themselves boast that Party Golf has trillions of different combinations to try out. You can set the balls to be explosive, alter the height and scale of the terrain, toy with different tee locations or round rules, and so much more. This is where the real fun is to be had, as trying out the different types of modes and settings can lead to some unexpectedly fun results.
Party Golf isn’t an expensive game made by a big studio with a huge budget. Given the state of console development in Australia, despite one or two issues that can be worked around by tweaking a few game modes, it has to be said that Party Golf is actually far more impressive than I was ready to give it credit for, and for that, Giant Margarita should be applauded. Like any couch multiplayer experience, it simply doesn’t translate well if you’re on your own. With a bunch of friends around, it’s a very different story. Party Golf is made for the craziness that comes with having a room full of friends together. It is a party, after all; it’s right there in the name.
James Swinbanks is a Games Critic currently writing for GameSpot, although you’ll still occasionally see him popping up on Player 2, because frankly, he loves the smell of the place.