From developer and publisher Giant Margarita comes Party Golf; the 2D stripped down golf game that is more about the party mode than the golf with an incredibly colorful graphical design, 8-player compatibility, and over 100 game modes included from the start.
“Tee off simultaneously to a psychedelic 2D world, with satisfyingly simple physics, except it’s a frenetic free-for-all to get in the hole. It’s instant fun with endless variety; there are trillions of gameplay combinations, from giant banana balls to turbo power-ups. This spontaneous couch party may drive a wedge between friends, but have everyone shouting ‘just one more round!’”
Party games provide players with the opportunity to set aside their own single player ambitions and enjoy some much needed game time with friends or family in an often carefree and relaxing environment. What few party games provide is a perfect balance between the wealth of content that keeps players coming back and accessible gameplay that doesn’t feel oversimplified. While there is certainly no shortage of content in this uniquely simple party game, Party Golf certainly has a few flaws that prevent this game from being a true party staple.
From a gameplay perspective, Party Golf does its best to take the emphasis off of the ‘golf’ portion of its name by not overcomplicating the control scheme and instead utilizing a simple two-button mechanic. In any controller configuration you use, the left stick will control the aiming and the power of your shot while the A button allows you to execute the shot. This streamlined control scheme is very intuitive and provides an incredibly accessible experience for even the most inexperienced of gamers. Ultimately, this makes Party Golf an incredibly easy game to play, which is part of the draw of this title.
While you play the game, things get to be quite hectic on screen. Instead of the traditional ‘each player takes a shot and waits for the next round’ approach that is so often associated with golf games, Party Golf sees all of the players shooting for the hole at the same time. While this overly excessive chaos is going on you will undoubtedly collide with the other players, pushing both of you towards an unexpected trajectory that more often than not hurts your odds of making it into the hole. Upon sinking a shot, the players left are then put on the clock to try and make it in themselves. When the timer runs out on the hole, players are first rewarded for the order in which they’ve sunk the shot or rewarded for how close they get to the hole itself. While sometimes frustrating, these basic gameplay mechanics provide a chaotic environment that gets everyone in on the action.
Adding to the chaos are the over 100 included game play modes that range from limiting the number of shots each player can take to projecting force fields around each players ball to protect them from being hit to even giving your ball the ability to go through walls. If by some miracle one of the included modes doesn’t appeal to you in any way, there is a custom game menu included in Party Golf. This allows you to customize the gaming experience to include elements of all of your favorite game modes and leave out the options you don’t like so much. Customizations range from changing the environment to have lower gravity, reversing the way you aim the ball, playing in a pitch black environment, and so much more. The one downside to this setup menu is that it certainly is a time consuming process, especially given the length of your typical round of Party Golf. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker given that the sheer amount of content that is in this game is staggering. There really is something for everyone here and there are no limits to how you play this game.
A few areas where the gameplay is lacking though are in its procedurally generated levels and in the intelligence of the A.I. While a big selling point of the game is its procedurally generated holes, there are quite a few occasions where the generated levels are impossible to finish. This could be because of an uphill design with no flat areas on the way or even trapping the golf balls at the start of the level. While the frequency of these generations varies, it does happen and for me it happened quite a bit during my time with the game. The way the game remedies this hiccup is by allowing players to skip any stage of any round, which is a necessary workaround given the unfortunate frequency of this issue.
My other main issue with the gameplay is in the intelligence of the A.I. When playing with A.I. in any game there are plenty of moments where you’re scratching your head as to what they are doing, but this seemed to manifest itself quite often in Party Golf. In some of the customized gameplay modes, the A.I. have no idea how to work through the options that have been selected and end up fumbling around with no purpose or direction. This is unfortunate because even though this game is supposed to be a party game shared with friends, the A.I. should at least be able to handle anything you throw at it and represent some type of challenge when facing it.
Party Golf uses a minimalistic graphic style that relies heavily on contrasting colors of the background and the foreground to attempt to create dynamic 2D environments. The game does this quite well and there is no real difficulty in identifying which player is which on screen. Additional visuals include fireworks that let you know when someone makes it into the hole and tails that follow each golf shot. All of these subtle visuals help you to identify and keep track of your ball and also contribute nicely to the ‘party’ elements you’d expect from a frenzied multiplayer game like Party Golf.
Much like the graphics, the music of Party Golf does less to innovate on the party aesthetic and instead opts for what you’d expect when thinking of a party game. It’s all very upbeat and presents a very happy vibe that works well without being too overbearing.
All in all my impressions and thoughts of Party Golf are pretty mixed. While the $15 price point can be easily justified by the amount of content you get, it’s hard for me to say that I really liked this game. The simple controls allow for great accessibility, which is awesome given that it’s a party game designed to bring in a wide variety of gamers, and even though there are tons of different game modes the occasional broken level and time consuming setup of custom games kept me from coming back to this game more than a few times. While it was fun to play for a little while with my friends, I certainly don’t expect this game to ever become a staple in a genre that the Nintendo Switch has so many great games for and would ultimately have to say this game is a NintenDon’t.
A native of Minnesota, Brandon has been an avid Nintendo fan for as long as he can remember and enjoys being able to escape into the vast worlds offered in their games. Some of his favorite games include: Pokemon Blue & Silver, Earthbound, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Risk of Rain 2, and of course LoZ: Breath of the Wild.
Outside of gaming Brandon enjoys riding motorcycle, listening to music or podcasts, cooking, watching movies, and is a big sports fan. He is always carrying his Switch with him wherever he goes, so feel free to add him if you’d like to lose at MK8D.