If you check out the website for Triband’s newest release WHAT THE GOLF? you’ll find a line reading ‘The golf game for people who hate golf.’ It’s a bold statement to claim especially because… well, how do you make golf into something a hater of the sport will like? It appears Triband may have figured that problem out delivering easily the most chaotic of golf games that’s so silly at times it doesn’t even feel like golf… but still is… somehow. Confused? Me too.
The game immediately introduces you to what appears to be a pretty traditional looking golf game complete with little white ball, power meter and a flag to aim for. Just as straightforward are the game’s controls whether playing with the touch screen or traditional scheme. Moving straight onto the next hole you’ll find black cats randomly sat about the green. ‘A little weird’, you may be thinking but no time to dwell, the ball has been putted and it’s onto the next hole, this one involving an actual human you’ll get to swing with. Lining up your shot and selecting your power, you swing… only it’s not the ball that goes flying forwards but the actual golfer (in hilarious ragdoll fashion I might add). It appears the aim here is not to sink the ball but rather the golfer himself. Okay, now things are getting silly and believe me, this is only scratching the surface.
To reveal the many tricks that WHAT THE GOLF? holds up its sleeve would be to spoil a large part of what makes it such a joy to experience. As much fun as I had actually taking on each increasingly insane situations it’s the constant surprise and guessing of what the game would throw my way next that proved even more entertaining. Where one moment I might be hitting a house across a golf course and the next an army of golf clubs – don’t worry, the examples I’ve given here are very early in the game.
No matter how outlandish things get though, you’ll always rely on aiming and utilising a power meter, a simple pair of actions at your disposal but ones that remain feeling fresh and exciting thanks to the situations you’ll find yourself using them in. Sure, at a certain point you have to ask yourself ‘is this even golf anymore?’ but maybe it’s best to look at this as an entirely different genre with hints of golf sprinkled in. Part physics-based puzzle game but perhaps WHAT THE GOLF? feels like it has more in common with the wacky WarioWare series than the actual sport of golf, ideas thrown at your rapidly and the scenarios over the top and guaranteed to make you laugh.
Stitching all these ludicrous puzzles together is an unexpected albeit relatively simple hub world. This part arguably feels the most golf-like, as you hit the ball around what feels like a giant miniature golf course. The hub is split into different sections, each of these housing a small handful of puzzles/holes all using a similar idea or theme. Progression feels brisk largely thanks to the low thresholds required to unlock more areas of the hub world. In fact, players only need to complete the first of three tasks for each puzzle/hole to keep moving forward. The two additional tasks offer a little more challenge for those that are after it but remain purely optional. These are worth checking out either way though since more often than not they will have you doing completely different things or playing on a completely different course altogether.
Regularly during my time with WHAT THE GOLF? I found myself laughing as I bounced from one weird situation to the next. Approaching the game’s final stretch, I did start to feel the ‘joke’ of ‘golf but super crazy’ had run its course. However, with the end credits just around the corner, it wasn’t too much of an issue. This is a game that never reaches the point of outstaying its welcome. It gets in, does its thing and gets out and sometimes it’s nice to have a game like that between the huge RPGs and marathon adventures.
Outside the main campaign, the game also includes a daily challenge option – complete with online leaderboards – along with a brutally tough alternative too. The game also includes a ‘Show a Friend’ option that simply bundles a handful of levels together ideal for… well showing off to others. It’s a simple addition but one that proves very effective at selling the game’s idea to a newcomer. Just the other day I set my wife on this option and within a couple of examples she was hooked.
The Switch version brings with it an exclusive feature in the shape of Party Mode, a fun two-player split-screen option that sees you racing through a series of levels/holes before facing off in an arena-style finale event. Turns out multiplayer is a perfect fit for WHAT THE GOLF? complimenting the silly nature with a chaotic racing element.
WHAT THE GOLF? is a short but entertaining WarioWare-esque time that’s full of surprises and with the addition of a two-player mode, the Switch version easily ranks as the best out there. It’s also exactly the sort of bright and silly game we could all do with right now. Is it golf? Is it not? Who cares when the end result is so damn funny.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Triband