Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: September 28, 2017
Infinite Minigolf is a minigolf game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PlayStation VR. Zen Studios are one of the most reliable indie developers of the moment as they are active in developing games within a variety of genres such as CastleStorm’s tower defence gameplay, rhythm action fighter Kick Beat and the highly acclaimed themed pinball tables in the Pinball FX and Zen Pinball series. Infinite Minigolf is the sequel to Planet Minigolf which was released on June 1st 2010 as a PS3 exclusive, but can Infinite Minigolf improve upon its excellent predecessor and retain Zen Studios’ high quality?
Tournaments comprise of 9 holes in which your character competes against 3 A.I. controlled opponents to achieve the highest score. Each hole is scored by a number of factors; therefore earning a par, birdie or albatross will provide a significant quantity of points, but you could still technically get a bogie and still end up winning the hole as there are a number of crystals scattered around the hole and a purple gem which is worth 2,000 points itself, while an additional bonus is rewarded for scoring a hole-in-one. The next tournament within your chosen theme which also contains 9 holes is unlocked after winning your current tournament, while completing all 4 tournaments in a theme unlocks the next tier of difficulty for the first tournament before the process repeats until all 4 tournaments are available throughout 3 difficulty tiers. Players can exit out of a tournament with their progression being saved to continue from at a later point which is an excellent user friendly gameplay design choice.
Themed courses include a giant home, nightmare mansion and Santa’s factory. The giant home courses contain an animal or creature such as a mouse, an owl, a dog or a rather unnervingly large spider that presents some obstacles on certain holes on each of the tournaments, while also featuring objects that need to be navigated with precision such as autographed baseballs, building blocks, alphabetical letter cubes, a remote controlled car, traffic cones and more besides. Nightmare mansion features a pumpkin headed character that is inspired by Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas as well as werewolves, a figure to the side of the course that looks akin to Frankenstein and carnivorous plants, while taking place in darkly lit pave stoned environments with candles and pumpkins adding to the spooky atmosphere. Santa’s factory contains reindeers, elves and even Santa Klaus, while set in a snowy wonderland full of candy canes, stockings, gift bags and Christmas lights. Characters featured in the themed courses usually play a part in the action if you can place the ball at their feet such as the pumpkin headed figure that hits the ball away with his stick, reindeer that flicks the ball up and towards the hole, an elf who picks up the ball, laughs and throws it at another elf as though it was a snowball that stumbles to the ground before the ball ricochets off him and into the hole and Santa Klaus likes to throw the ball over his shoulder towards a purple gem or the hole.
Power-ups are rather fitting to the arcade style of crazy golf including magnets to attract the ball towards the hole, springs to jump over an obstacle, a rocket ship that powerfully projects the ball forward just as it is about to stop moving, classic videogame joysticks to control movement of the ball even in mid-air and many more game changing power-ups.
Infinite Minigolf is full of great gameplay design such as each of the participating characters celebrating on the podium after a tournament has been completed, while further rewards including cards and unlocking character customisation elements such as t-shirts.
Every hole has 3 missions that are linked to your character’s level such as Quick Draw for making a putt within 10 seconds; Purple Gem with Hole-in-One for collecting a purple gem and scoring a hole-in-one; Long Putt for making a long putt from over 10 metres; Overall Score for reaching a 150,000 total score; and more besides. Cards and character customisation elements are unlocked as multiple rewards for levelling up your character.
The course editor has improved over its prequel to make course creation easier than before such as the camera can be panned directly overhead, from any side or on level with an area of the hole you want to constructively assess before progressing onwards. The course editor provides an expansive amount of customisation that allows players to be as creative as they want to be including 5 different pieces of course containing numerous alternatives such as course undulations, cornering and multiple paths which can all be individually rotated and increased or lowered in gradient. A course that is a work-in-progress can be played during test mode to gauge if the course is playing how you would ideally prefer it to before saving it to play locally and sharing your course for the entire world to experience in single player, local multiplayer and online multiplayer.
Course browser filters are thoroughly designed to make finding the user-generated content that best suits your preferences including a variety of categories such as latest, top rated, fresh WR (world record points score), favourites, my holes, holes by friends and Zen’s pick, alongside each category having filters comprising all, pure, big, simple and hard. If you are looking to explore user-generated content immediately, then Quick Play mode allows players to play one user-generated hole after another without having to search for any and also having the ability to rate its quality through a range of emoticons.
There is an extensive range of character customisation for your male or female golfer’s appearance; comprising of fully customisable hair and hair colour, t-shirts, trousers, footwear, belt buckles, wristbands, golf clubs, golf balls, skintone, glasses and eye colours, while you can rotate your character a full 360 degrees to make sure that his or her design is exactly to your preferences.
Players can watch a replay of the entire hole that was just completed from various camera angles and speeds ranging from half speed slow motion to double speed or skipping up to 30 seconds at a time to quickly find that special shot, alongside the ability to capture the moment by saving your replays in single player and multiplayer.
There are two sets of downloadable content confirmed including Tortuga and Hangar 37 that comprise of multiple tournaments within each theme, although pricing and a release date are unconfirmed at the time of writing.
Infinite Minigolf supports PlayStation VR throughout every mode at no extra cost, although it retains a third-person perspective instead of introducing a first-person viewpoint which would have been better suited for VR; however it does make for a more immersive camera.
Infinite Minigolf supports cross-buy and cross-save between PS4 and PlayStation VR. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and PlayStation VR versions of the game with just a single purchase. The cross-save functionality allows you to continue your progression on a save file from your PS4 to PlayStation VR and vice versa, so you can start playing the game on your PS4, then continue playing it when you invest in PlayStation VR and move back and forth between the two platforms.
Zen Studios have released almost all of their previous games on Vita, although Infinite Minigolf has not received a port which is disappointing given that Planet Minigolf never made it to PSP or Vita either; however remote play is at least a consolation. The control scheme is retained in its entirety including the optional gyroscopic motion sensing functionality; resulting in a comfortable remote play experience that has all the graphical, audio and performance qualities of the PS4 version.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the default control scheme consisting of moving the left analogue stick from left to right to adjust your aim; pulling back on the right analogue stick to strengthen or weaken the force of your putt; pressing X to place the ball; pressing O to pick up the ball; pressing square for an overview; pressing R3 to change between 3 camera angles; holding L2 to enter free look; and pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu. An alternative control scheme swaps the left and right analogue sticks around resulting in being able to putt with the left analogue stick and aim using the right analogue stick. Tapping the touch pad displays the pause menu, while vibration occurs when the ball rebounds off a surface or when collecting a purple gem, alongside optional gyroscopic motion sensing functionality which guides the ball when using certain power-ups. There is no light bar implementation which could have been an interesting method of displaying how far on or off the pace a player is from achieving the par number of putts for each hole. Planet Minigolf supports PlayStation Move on PS3, but Infinite Minigolf does not follow suit, although there is a possibility that PlayStation Move support may come in a post-launch update.
Graphically, Infinite Minigolf is the best looking crazy golf game available as every hole and course are brought to life through outstanding lighting, shadows, textures and themed designs, alongside excellent character animations and ball physics, while PS4 Pro support improves resolution from 1080p to 1440p at 60 frames per second.
The presentation of the game is appropriate for a minigolf game with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, play solo menus, local match menus, online match menus, tournament selection menus, character customisation menus, course creator menus, options menus, extras menu, online leaderboards rankings and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. The background of the main menus are spacious as they usually have menu options situated to the right, while your chosen character makes a variety of animations just off centre towards the left of the menus.
There are no character voice-overs, although the sound effects include some murmurs in addition to collecting crystals and gems, putting the ball, the ball rebounding off surfaces, the ball dropping into the hole and ambience such as a remote control helicopter circling overhead, a drone carrying a platform from one location to another, a tired dog sleeping, chattering teeth, a howling wolf and more besides. Sound effects are complimented by appropriate music for each theme such as upbeat music in giant home, spooky music for the Halloween theme in nightmare mansion and Christmassy music in Santa’s factory. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is surprising as it could have produced ambient sound effects.
The trophy list includes 14 trophies with 12 bronze trophies, 1 silver trophy and 1 gold trophy, while there are two additional sets of 3 bronze trophies representing downloadable content packs. Easier trophies include the First Step bronze trophy for putting the ball into the hole and the Explorer bronze trophy for scoring 25,000 points on a single hole. Harder trophies include the Perfectionist bronze trophy for scoring a hole-in-one on 10 different holes on hard difficulty and the Collector gold trophy for winning a tournament while collecting every purple gem on hard difficulty. There are 5 online multiplayer trophies including the Architect bronze trophy for creating and sharing a hole; the Connoisseur bronze trophy for rating 100 community holes; the Warrior bronze trophy for winning an online multiplayer match; the Master Builder bronze trophy for creating and sharing 10 holes; and the Legend silver trophy for winning 5 consecutive online multiplayer matches. Both sets of downloadable content trophies include 3 bronze trophies for winning all tournaments on each difficulty level at Tortuga and Hangar 37 respectively. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 20 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are three difficulty levels including casual, normal and hard with the major differences being that A.I. controlled characters are capable of scoring much higher points; therefore particularly making the single player tournaments a closer run, more unpredictable competitive scenario. Every hole is capable of being hard; regardless of the chosen difficulty level as there are slopes, undulations, corners and obstacles that need to be navigated with real precision that requires players to invest thought and finesse into their putts to make sure that the ball does not go out of bounds or miss the hole by falling short or being pushed too long.
Local multiplayer supports 2 to 8 players in what is essentially a multiplayer variant of single player tournaments were every participating player vies for the highest score over the duration of 9 holes within your chosen course from the giant home, nightmare mansion and Santa’s factory. User-generated holes can be played in local and online multiplayer by selecting Random Course which means that a random selection of 9 user-generated holes will be used or assembling and saving one or more 9 hole custom courses in the Course Browser, therefore allowing the courses to be played during local multiplayer matches and online custom multiplayer matches. Top 3 players at the end of the tournament are rewarded by being presented on the podium.
Online multiplayer supports 2 to 8 players with gameplay in the same manner as local multiplayer. You can play for fun in a 1 vs. 1 versus match, a tournament for 4 to 8 players, a classic match for 4 players, hole or nothing for 4 players or a crazy match for 8 players, while players can be more competitive minded in a 1 vs. 1 versus match or a tournament for 4 to 8 players.
Online leaderboards focus on top 20 rankings for every Zen Studios developed course in addition to displaying your score and friends’ scores with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); and best score, while online leaderboards are present for every user-generated hole including the world record score, alongside the name of the player who set it and their best score.
Replayability originates from a wide variety of areas including tournaments, 3 difficulty levels, character customisation, levelling up, unlockables, local multiplayer, online multiplayer and online leaderboards, alongside a course creator that effectively provides unlimited replay value and PlayStation VR compatibility which will have players returning quite regularly.
• Title: Infinite Minigolf
• Developer: Zen Studios
• Publisher: Zen Studios
• System: PS4 and PlayStation VR
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: Yes (PS4 and PlayStation VR)
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1/2-8 (Local and Online Multiplayer/User-Generated Content Social Sharing/Online Leaderboards)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 1.21GB (Version 1.02)