Pow Pow's Mini-Golf
And when I wasn't playing pinball, miniature golf was a close second on my list of favorite activities. Knowing that, it shouldn't be surprising to learn about the enjoyment I had with this next game: a 3D miniature golf game that does a very respectable job at recreating one of my favorite childhood pasttimes.
Pow Pow's Mini-Golf is an impressive Shockwave 3D implementation of classic miniature golf gameplay that runs in any browser. The game even features RPG-like elements with saved character stats that can be 'leveled-up' with experience points.
Two different character avatars are available: Pow Pow and his girlfriend, Mai Mei, as well as an array of game play options that let you tailor the experience to your liking. For example, the main menu offers Single Player, 2 Player, or Online modes of play.
Single player allows you to play by yourself in Solo mode, or against the CPU. 2 Player allows you to play against another person at the same computer; and Online play let's you chat with and play against anyone else currently online anywhere in the world.
For each mode, there are two different gameplay options: Stroke or Match play. Stroke is the most common way to play golf in which the player with the fewest strokes after all holes are played is the winner. Match play awards each hole to the player with the fewest strokes, with the winner of the game being the player who earns the most holes. You may also choose to play the front nine (9), the back nine (9), or all eighteen (18) holes in the game.
Playing the game is relatively easy once all of that is out of the way, though there are a number of controls to become familiar with. When a game begins, and following the completion of each hole, you must actually move your avatar to the next hole. Simply click anywhere on the ground to have your avatar move there. Once you get close enough to the beginning of the next hole, a sign indicating where to click will become visible.
Once your avatar is positioned and ready to line up for your next shot, there are four (4) interface controls available to you: View, Angle, Visualize Shot, and Putt.
View: Clicking on the arrows of "View" allow you to rotate the camera around your avatar to get a preferred perspective of the hole. Alternatively, you may press the [left] and [right] arrow keys to rotate the camera.
Angle: Clicking on the arrows of "Angle" allow you to control the angle, or direction, of your putt. The game will automatically align your angle towards the hole, but it is not always the best angle of choice for each shot; so, you will need to use this control often to get the best shot possible.
Visualize Shot: Clicking on the large white sphere will produce a trail of dots that represent the projected path the ball will travel. Use this to help line up those tricky shots.
Putt: Once you are ready to putt, clicking on the putter will bring up the power guage. Click once more to select the desired strength with which to hit the ball; and then once more to determine the shot accuracy. For accuracy, try to get stop the arrow when it is directly in the center for the best shot possible.
If not playing Solo mode, you will alternate turns with your opponent. Each time it is your turn, you must first click on your ball before your avatar will get into putting position.
Analysis: The game is rich with features that allow for a great variety of play options. Thankfully, the most common options are set by default making it relatively quick and easy to start a new game, apart from the rather long download time required. The graphics and interfaces are polished and appealing and represent one of the best Shockwave 3D game implementations I have seen. The concept of accumulating experience points to upgrade your character is a welcome addition that increases the depth of the game.
On the downside, there's only one course available to play. Yes, it is a free game, and so it's easy to look past this weakness. Also, I found that playing against the CPU was a bit frustrating due to the amount of time required for it to take its turn: The initial long pause once positioned; the little 'wiggle' to establish the correct angle; and even the dialog between the two characters became annoying rather quickly. An option to speed up the CPU and disable dialog would be a welcome option in the games settings.
Another option that is lacking is a music-off switch separate from the sound effects. This should be a standard feature of just about every game with sound.
Also, it was not clear to me how to save my character for play at another time. A "Load" button appears on the character select screen, but clicking it didn't do anything that I could tell. The absence of a companion "Save" button only adds to the mystery.
More feedback should be available to the players during the game regarding the number of strokes taken and the par for the course. Although a minor gripe, I often found myself wondering how many shots I had already taken.
Some holes have moving parts that require precise timing to get past them. Unfortunately, timing a shot with the interface provided in this game is next to impossible, thereby leaving it all to chance. On the other hand, there's always a way around.
Even with these minor issues, Pow Pow's Mini-Golf is a delightful 3D miniature golf experience in the convenience of your browser. Slightly cumbersome and yet feature-rich with enough options to appease any mini-golfer. Add to that an online mode to play against anyone anywhere in the world, and what you have is an excellent casual Web game offering from Out of the Box Software of Oceanside, California. Click.
just like to say jay you keep me alive with your game reccomendations its not often a site becomes part of my daily routine like yours does so thanks, i appreciate you. so for every person that says they hate you, 100's of us support you and your godly gaming site. thanks.
the game looks great can't wait to play!
dude that is the longest review of a minigolf game I have ever seen.
LOL. =) Yes, there was a lot of ground to cover(!)
Thanks, Kris. ;)
I only wanted to congratulate for such a great site you are doing here. It's on the list with my TOP Favourites. Even here in Germany the people are talking in the forums when you got a new game review. You just pick up the best and free games from the internet i've ever seen. Just keep up with it and the Internet is a little bit better :-)
Back to topic: I think the game is very much fun when you play it online. But as a single player or even against the CPU it's a little bit boring after a few holes. I couldn't test the online mode yet because the friend of mine I tried to play with got problems with his shockwave player. and since it is nearly 0:00h in the moring here in Germany he hadn't the time to reinstall and try again because he wanted to go to bed.
So much from me.
P.S Sorry for my bad english but it has been a few years since I was in school and so my english is a little bit "rusty";-)
Quite enjoyable. A couple of quibbles:
The score card says total par is 54 but the holes add up to 53. And it'd be awfully nice if there was a way to skip watching the pencil write in and tally up every score. Similarly, it'd be nice to have a single something to click on to go directly to the next hole or where the ball is lying instead of having to hunt around for the right pixel to click on. Speeding up the inter-stroke time this way would really kick the game up a notch.
Couple more points:
Sometimes the AI gets stuck and takes several minutes to stop wiggling and take his shot. this is pretty rare, though.
It'd be way cool if the visualization path were color-coded to correspond to the power chart. Maybe this could be something you earn as the game progresses?
Thanks very much, Rene. Your kind comments mean a lot to me. =)
And I do agree. The single player solo mode, and even against the CPU, is just not the best way to experience this game. As with most games, playing with another person is always a good choice. =)
Agreed, AP, on unnecessarily long inter-stroke events. That continues to be my biggest gripe with the game. The animations should be, at the very least, interruptible with the net result being immediately available.
I gotta say, the game looks pretty since it's in flash and has such elaborate modeling/rendering---but for the same reason, the gameplay bites! It takes 2 or 3 clicks to get the power/accuracy bar to register, and its 50% random to even have the pointer stop where you clicked!
I's rather play a less glizty but more playable Java golf game.
It's a Shockwave 3D game, as it was created in Director, not Flash. Flash doesn't have a decent 3D api, yet. But I'd venture a guess that it's only a matter of time.
Most computer golf games have similar control schemes, and yes, they do require a bit of an investment to play through 9 or 18 holes. This game is not all that different from the commercial golf games I've seen and played.
The precision of clicking within a target area is supposed to simulate the human error of physically swinging a club. Without a mechanism to introduce error to the system, the game becomes too easy.
That being said, I agree that the game could use a bit of streamlining of its interface elements to produce a faster game.
hreh...Rock on, I love this game. I've added it to favorites. Great find, thanks man.
Ooookay, I just changed my mind. Evertime I play against the CPU, it tells me an error ocurred and it wasn't my fault and they gave me an e-mail to send hate-mail to. Honestly, after trying three times to play, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea. Ah well...
This is Chris Evans the developer of Pow Pow's Mini-Golf. Thanks Jay for giving a very informative and honest review.
I'm glad most of you enjoyed the game, but I also appreciate the criticisms. Not only does it help me know what I need to improve with this golf game, but also tells me the design pitfalls I should avoid with my next games.
Sometimes when you're developing a game for several months (or more), it's very easy to get tunnel vision and lose sight of basic usability. For instance, even though this game is free I should have known that not having proper sound fx & music on/off options would drive some people crazy. :)
Also as the review (and the comments) has pointed out, I need to strike a better balance between presentation and usability (ie. The un-skipable scorecard animation). So thanks again everyone for the helpful comments.
Other places where I've read comments would just say, "This game is fun, but a little slow". I would just read it and think, "Hey, it's a golf game, it's suppose to be slow!". So with vague feedback, it's sometimes hard to figure out what needs improving exactly. This is why I appreciate Jay's detailed review.
As for the bugs a few of you have been experiencing, they seem to be low frequency (ie. not that many people experience it), but the few people who do experience bugs seem to run into the exact same bug repeatedly. So we're still trying to get that sorted out.
Thanks again everyone.
*Scurries back into the shadows...*
You get to save the game when you have finished a round. After you spend your lvl xp is asks if you want to save. Don't know if that happens vs computer player, had to restart my game because the it crashed out for some reason
It's a very slick little game, but I have a couple of nags. One, the way the page is laid out, twice I have accidentally clicked on an adjacent "other game" link in the middle of a course while trying to move to the edge of the screen. Also, I experienced a bug on the hole with two concave pipe-drop holes, whereby after putting past the hole, I couldn't get to my ball to make a second shot.
This game seems really fun - but, unfortunately, freezes any browser I try it on (so far that includes the latest Explorer, Firefox, and Safari). I'm on Mac OS 10.4.4. I never get past the first hole here, and I don't normally have any trouble with flash games! I hope this can be repaired, I really love put-put.
I tried to play, but the ball went outside the course and I could never find it again.
James - it's not a Flash game, it's Shockwave. Therefore it needs the latest Shockwave player. Make sure you have the latest version installed.
legman - that happened to me as well, but the ball reappeared back on the tee for my next shot.
Jay - sorry, a distinction I don't usually have to make. I already have Shockwave 10.1.0.11 installed. It still crashes every browser during the opening sequence or by the end of the first hole, even when nothing else is running or sucking bandwidth. I'm on a dual 1.25 w/ 1.75 RAM, so there shouldn't be a problem on the processing end. Just an FYI to the developer.
Ah, ok then. I do know that Chris has had other reports of his game freezing with OS X 10.4.
I'm still running 10.3.9 and don't have any problems at all with it in Firefox 1.5.
I'm running FF 1.5 too - so, that should narrow things down a little.
I really look forward to playing this game!
I'm using Firefox 1.5 on Windows XP and the latest Shockwave but the download process allways stucks on "Initializing Course Objects". And this is not the first time having problems with Shockwave games :(
I will report this to Chris / game support.
I finally got it to where I can play all holes with CPU! Good game, but almost too much effort to play it. rofl.
Fun game, looks good, but it sure is buggy. Ive hit a wall at almost every point where characters refuse to move, it wont restart without crashing (if flash can crash :o).
Hopefully the next version will ahve this ironed out. Would be sad if it was left in this beta state, loove mini-put put ;)
Haha I am lvl 9, and I look really cool with a sailor's hat and white shirt and pink pants, I look so hot and sailor-y!! I am Mai Mei (if u hadnt already guessed), and my online name is woot45, I hope 2 see u!!! :)
Still can't make this game work on my PC :(
I reported it again to Chris.
Btw Lone, this is Shockwave game, and Shoockwaves do crash :(
This thing is absolutely atrocious. There's always a loud rushing water sound in the background, regardless of how you set the sound in the options menu or in the shockwave menu. Also, the physics were clearly designed by someone who has never played mini golf in his or her life. Hey, where's my inertia? The people who made this should be ashamed of themselves.
I only started visiting your site about 2 weeks ago but I must say it is now part of my daily routine. I love your site and the games that you review. Thank you for all your efforts. Magnificent!
When I try to play any of the modes, it gets stuck on a bit saying "loading World to Memory" It doesnt progress at all! I have installed the latest shockwave player and Ive tried restarting my computer. Neither of em worked. How do i fix this? THis looks like such a cool game too :(