Review: Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! (3DS eShop)

Put some putt in your strut

The second 3D golf title to hit the eShop, Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! offers a miniaturized approach compared to its counterpart Let’s Golf! 3D, but promises at least three times the level of exclamation points. A close cousin to the pricier WiiWare game Fun! Fun! Minigolf, this title delivers short, simple courses filled with hazards, hills and bumpers, as well as the occasional loopty-loop. There are some well-implemented touch controls here, but the 3D effect is quite forgettable, while the variety of challenges starts to wear a little thin after the first few cup competitions are completed.

Shots are aimed using the stylus, with the bottom screen displaying a top-down view of the golf tee, allowing you to rotate the club around it to change direction of the ball. Pulling back further on the club increases the power of the shot, and as you hold the stylus on the screen a dot moves left and right over the ball, with the goal being to release the club when it’s over the centre for best accuracy.

Before taking your shot, you can view the small course from the side, scrolling along to see upcoming hazards. This is a welcome feature, but the inability to zoom out or rotate around the course is odd. When setting up your shot, the game positions the camera behind you, stretching the course straight ahead and allowing you to view it from three levels of zoom. Sometimes your character’s noggin is in the way, and other times parts of the course simply cannot be seen. If it allowed better camera control, it would be far easier to understand the layout of each course, which is quite important in a hazard-filled minigolf game.

The variety of the holes is decent at first. You’ll zig-zag the ball off walls, carefully navigate hills to gain curvature around corners and even send the ball off ramps over out-of-bounds territory. The difficulty, strangely, does not gradually increase as you progress through each cup, but sometimes throws up wildly difficult challenges in the middle, and then perhaps an easy hole-in-one to finish off the course. It eventually starts rehashing the same hazards, only slightly tweaking the layout, and this can cause the courses to run together a bit. Still, they remain different enough to offer a decent challenge.

There is a lot of trial-and-error needed to figure out the best way to approach each hole, and the game isn’t really structured to allow it. In many cases, it’s your very first swing that dictates the score, and if you can’t bounce off walls and avoid hazards just right, you end up out-of-bounds and repeatedly restarting from the tee. If you could practice individual holes of a cup to learn the right tactics before working through the whole course, the experience would be far more enjoyable. Say you want to master the seventh hole of the Asia Pro Cup: you have to first complete the six previous holes, and then try to recall what it was you did wrong all those shots back. If you can't, you’ll end up with a triple bogey and have to restart the cup from the beginning for another attempt.

The better your score on each hole, the more money you win, which is used in the shop to buy more courses, purchase three additional ‘trickshot’ challenges and unlock other features like special clubs, retro 8-bit sound effects or the ability to play as your Mii. The latter is quite welcome, as the male and female stock characters are not much to look at. If you prefer to remain fashion conscious as you golf, you can also customize the clothes adorning your character.

Unlocking the next course eventually becomes quite expensive, so you might want to purchase some trickshot courses sooner rather than later. These are relatively cheap and allow you to quickly score lots of cash by sending the ball through pockets of coins spread across a single hole. You can even buy more attempts per play in the shop, which proves useful due to the large bonus you get for collecting all the coins before you run out of attempts.

The overall presentation is simple but polished, with gasps emanating from the speakers should you come close to a hole-in-one and cheers for good shots. The 3D is rather underused, with broad overview angles that fail to really create any 3D-worthy visuals. If the game had some more creative camera angles or allowed you better control over the view, the effect could have been more impressive. As it is, it doesn't feel much different with the effect turned on or off.

The lack of any sort of multiplayer is also disappointing, as it would have been great to engage in some pass-and-play competition or compete against local or online opponents. Such features would have made plugging along to earn money and advance to the next cup a lot more fun and engaging. Instead, you have to replay the same holes over and over by yourself in order to advance.

Conclusion

Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! is not very deep, but that is to be expected of a minigolf game selling for $4.99/£4.50. For that low entry price you still get a polished, easy to control golf game with short, quickly consumable challenges that lend themselves nicely to portable hardware. The odd camera angles and stagnant views you are forced to use are a bit irritating, and the inability to replay single holes of a course or practice a shot is a missed opportunity. Still, this title offers 9 courses, three trick shot challenges and some interesting unlockable features, so even without a multiplayer mode there is still a lot to explore.