I quite enjoy myself a solid party game from time to time, and although it’s fairly slim pickings as of late, there’s no denying how much fun you can have when you find a party game that’s fit for all, and, above all else, exciting. That, is exactly what you’ll get from Party Golf; Giant Margarita’s crazy, frantic, competitive couch-play game for one to eight players. Sure, it’s far from perfect and it does come with a few technical issues, but when all is said and done, you’ll be hard pressed finding a golf-based party game that’s as good as this.
The game is served as a 2D golf experience with a twist; players are free to customize practically every aspect of the game. This means that, whilst your goal is to simply get to the hole first to net a win, the journey from tee to cup will drastically alter throughout. That’s where Party Golf gets a lot right. It never tries to change up the core concept of getting from A to B, and instead, makes the most out of how you get there. Furthermore, it also keeps things nice, fair, welcoming, and straightforward with simple, ultimately satisfying physics.
In short, it’s a game that anyone can pick up and enjoy. There’s no learning curve in regards to its functionality, nor its mechanics. It’s one of those that you’ll boot up, select or customize a mode, and then dive on in. The game is crammed full of things you can tweak and toy around with; spread across four player local matches, and, eight player local matches – the latter using a shared controller mode. This sits on top of the fact that each and every terrain is procedurally generated, meaning you’ll never play the same map twice.
Booting up the game takes you to a clean and concise menu. Here, you can dive into a quick game, browse the game’s modes, jump into some trials, customize a game yourself, or, browse some credits and options. The former is relatively self explanatory, but a good place to start if you’re looking to get a quick grasp of the game’s handling. Really though, unless you’re in a mode that instills power-ups or another gimmick, the handling couldn’t be any easier if it tried; simply aim with the left thumbstick, and shoot your ball with the A button.
You’ll never need to rely on power or force here, but instead, trajectory. Whenever you pull the left thumbstick to make a shot, a small line will inform you as to where your ball will head. Following your shot, this line will fade slightly but remain in place, which is useful for those occasions in which you fall off the map or die, and then need to realign your shot whilst using your last shot-line as a guide. When you’re happy with your alignment, you’ll tap the A button to perform a shot, and so on and so forth until you make it to the cup.
The aim of the game is to get to the cup first to score the winning points, or, mode depending, get to the cup with the least number of shots made. The moment that happens, a countdown will appear that puts the pressure on the remaining players to hurry the heck up before time runs out and the game or round comes to an end. Remaining players will be ranked based on who made it to the hole next, or, who got closest to the hole before the timer ran dry. You’ll then rinse and repeat through rounds until a winner stands victorious.
You’re free to take to Party Golf either with friends, or with the game’s AI. If you’re playing with the AI, you’ll be glad to know that its robust; it’s certainly challenging at times, but it’s always fair nevertheless. Of course, it goes without saying that games like this are much better played alongside your nearest and dearest. That being said, I’ve played with both, and I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve had a blast playing against either. Whatever the case, that’s the crux of play in Party Golf – pop off shots in unity to score those bragging rights.
Though, as alluded to above, there’s much more to this game than meets the eye. Taking a quick trip to the game’s modes will showcase that. Here, you’ll be met with a wealth of options to take to. There’s so many modes on offer, you’ll literally be spoiled for choice. Fancy keeping things vanilla? You can do exactly that via the default mode that consists of the above functionality; first to the hole wins. However, if you and your buddies fancy something more outlandish, Party Golf has your back a million times over, and then some.
Fruit Salad, for example, swaps each players’ ball with a random piece of fruit, each set at random sizes. I don’t need to explain, given the physics, how hilarious it can be when your friend gets a banana on an uphill course. Not bizarre enough? Use The Force grants you and your friends a three-use Jedi-like power-up, allowing you to knock and bash one another out of dodge as you pursue the hole. Then there’s Flappy Ball, which plays out exactly like Flappy Bird, but each course is packed full of explosive mines that will end your run.
I quite enjoyed Wall Hacks, a mode that puts you in a cave-like system and allows you to dig through the surface of two walls of your choosing. That may sound basic on paper, but in practice, it’s a barrel of laughs. I would be here all day long if I was to go over each and every wacky mode that Party Golf offers up, all of which are just as bonkers as the next. I haven’t even touched up on the modes or settings that you can take to to alter gravity, power-ups, and more. Seriously, choice is by no means exhaustive here, it’s massively deep.
There’s settings that you can alter to allow your balls to stick to surfaces, bounce great lengths at a time, or even boost and control movement midair. That’s just ball mechanics. Now, on to level mechanics – which are just as diverse. Not only can you play a simple game of golf, but you can tweak a number of level settings to alter the core objectives. Want to do away with just getting to the hole? You can do just that through throwing in numbered checkpoints, hordes of coins to gather and collect, indestructible mines, and much more.
Like I said, I would be here all day if I was to go over everything the game covers. Party Golf means business, it’s a game that’s built to last, and it rarely gets old. When you’re ready to get your hands dirty and create your own modes, Party Golf remains fairly accessible. The game’s customization suite is as straightforward as can be for a game that packs as much weight and as much variation as this. I wont lie, it takes a bit of getting used to at first, and it can be somewhat overwhelming on the face of it all, but bear with it, because it’s worth it.
In the suite, you’ll have a wide variation of options to tweak. Here, you can adjust ball size, power-ups, tees and holes, AI opponents, aiming, environments, rules, scoring, modes, and just about anything else; all options coming with heaps of sub-options per-category. That’s not all. Party Golf also offers a range of trials that you can take to if you’re looking to up your game. These trials can be extremely taxing, and often see you attempting to make it through a string of bizarrely structured courses using only a set, specific amount of moves.
Regardless as to what you pick this game up for, you’re guaranteed a good time. There’s something remarkably fun about every mode on offer. Whether you’re slamming your opposition out of the way (and off the edge of a course) to score victory, or, sailing in the lead as you tactically outmaneuver countless mines, the hilarity hardly ever buckles. I’ve had a blast so far, and given how heavy the game is on its replay value, I can see myself losing hours on end sinking in more time. Sadly, there’s the odd drawback to contend with here.
First and foremost, and by no means a game breaker, the game’s menus make a habit of freezing up. I’m not sure if it’s because of the fact that the menus are so crowded and all come with animations, but it’s somewhat annoying that this isn’t as fluid as can be. Secondly, and finally, there’s an issue with the game’s procedural generation. On a few occasions, I found myself spawned on a course that was, whilst not impossible, frustrating to run. Mercifully, this only happened on a rare occasion, so it’s fairly easy to overlook overall.
That said, it can be disheartening when you setup a game, only to find that you’ve been spawned underneath a structural lip that will rocket you off-screen the moment you try to get your ball in the air. Sure, you can roll a little to the side to gain more of an opening, but you’ll often be knocked off the edge of the map by your opposition. Whilst you can also wait for everyone to clear off, the chances are, you’ll lose due to the fact that everyone else is already at the hole by the time you bypass the problem you’re spawned in front of.
There’s a few other issues like this, but they all tend to revolve around said scenario. Moving to the game’s visual and audio presentation, Party Golf is exactly what you would expect it to be for a 2D outing. The game is hardly the most detailed of its kind, but it packs just enough variation to see it through. It’s serviceable. I can say the same about the game’s audio, being that it doesn’t go above nor beyond. That to the side, Party Golf is one hell of a robust package that should please just about any fan of party games. It’s a must have.
Deep, vast, and hilarious, Party Golf is one of the finest party games available on the Xbox One. The only real issue is that the game’s procedurally generated courses can prove to be a hindrance as far as spawning in concerned, but this only occurs infrequently. The bottom line is that if you’re looking for something that’s heavily customizable, constantly outlandish, and totally unique, Party Golf will serve you and all of your buddies well. Don’t miss out.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.