What The Golf? - Better than Beating Shooter McGavin
Reviews

What The Golf? – Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

What The Golf? – Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

Switch

I’m not much of a fan of silly physics games. Sure, it’s a bit of fun to muck around in Goat Simulator or Human: Fall Flat, but any desire to keep playing them soon wanes for me. I think the unpredictability, while often funny, often fails to be merged with anything more involving than loose, meaningless objectives.

What The Golf? - Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

What the Golf? has silly physics in it, but it also has precision. This may seem a conflict, but it manages to offer just enough floaty madness when it is needed, then brings things in tighter whenever a par run is desired. After you’ve smiled through the opening dozen or so WarioWare-style golf mini-games, you’ll come to see that this is something special. The combination of unpredictability and so-bad-it’s-good humour will keep you glued until “just one more flag” rolls into many more and you’ve spent an hour trying to beat the Impossible Challenge.

What The Golf? - Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

As an example, you might start off with a golfer holding his stick and the flag/hole just waiting for your ball. You push the thumb-stick in the right direction, hold in the button for power – and the club itself goes flying! Or the golfer, or sometimes you’re the actual hole, or a rug, or a ball that shoots out sticky arms, or twenty-five balls all at once. The ideas get whackier and whackier and no one idea outstays its welcome. Just when you might be getting frustrated with a mode, everything switches up. It’s only on replay that you can feel any measure of predictability and control. Surprisingly, there is some aspect of precision when you do so, creating the incentive for replaying each challenge once they have all been experienced the first time.

What The Golf? - Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

What the Golf? is at its best when it is parodying other games – so you have whole sections devoted to the styles of Portal, Super Meat Boy and even Superhot. It’s clear the developer loves videogames and stretching the limits of gameplay systems in interesting ways, twisting them around and making objectives less about the endpoint and more about how you get there. Flip an entire house down the fairway? Why not? Let’s see how it goes. This brand of experimentation creates a lively, cheeky title that just oozes enthusiasm for coding and play.

What The Golf? - Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

What the Golf? is not particularly difficult. In fact, most of the challenges that award you with a crown (there are three different versions of each course – the original, a par run and a crown challenge) aren’t actually challenges at all, but just fun variations on the original idea. Some of these throwaway levels could even be entire games in themselves. But What the Golf? seems aware that repetition breeds boredom, so it never gives you time to either love or dislike any particular type of mini-game too much.

What The Golf? - Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

While the game is not that long, longevity comes in trying for all the crowns, as well as trying for high scores across daily challenges. There’s also, as mentioned, the Impossible Challenge, which will take you over a thousand shots to complete. Between that and trying to beat the world’s highest scores, there’s more than enough challenge for those who really want to take a big bite into what is ultimately a tongue-in-cheek take on whacking things towards a hole.

What The Golf? - Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

An extra addition is the Party Mode, which pits two players against each other. This looks like it could be a blast, with some funny challenges, such as trying the wind a big ball around a pole until it hits a flag and literal duelling banjos! You’ll also race across existing courses, trying to beat each other to the goal, while scores are kept and an eventual winner named. I could see this coming out as a party addition if a) I had friends and b) enforced social isolation did not make us terrified to get together.

What The Golf? - Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

The game’s touch controls work well, which is to be expected given its original release as a mobile/arcade title. But to be honest, I found I preferred proper buttons and thumb-sticks. I felt more in control and less likely to obscure what I was aiming for.

What The Golf? - Better than Beating Shooter McGavin

What the Golf? Was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with code kindly provided by the publisher