This review originally appeared on PSPMinis.com back on April 30, 2012. Read my Postmortem about that website, soon.
Golf Mania, like previous Minis from Icon Games, provides you with a seemingly inexhaustible and entertaining gaming experience. If I still had my PSP with me, or if the Vita were not so much of a hassle changing accounts, I could still be playing their Arcade Air Hockey & Bowling, and still enjoying it a lot.
After creating a profile, you can immediately play the classic courses, that are of easy or medium difficulty, as the game labels them. You unlock the modern courses if you are able to finish all six of these courses at par or better. And honestly, after two exhaustive weeks, I can only complete a couple of courses below par—meaning don’t let this review change your mind if you are already stalking this game. I am not good at playing these types of games.
Controls are easy: up and down (on both the D-pad and analog stick) allow you to control the strength of your stroke. However, this is unlike your usual strength meter. If you’ve played enough pool video games, the meter in those is usually dynamic, and you time your button press in order to get your desired intensity. In Golf Mania, you actually preset it, and then you proceed with your stroke by pressing X. Placing your golf ball and choosing your aiming direction are also done with the D-pad and analog nub. I do not know if the control scheme is good or bad, but it does work pretty well, and I can’t imagine having a dynamic force meter when you also have to deal with Golf Mania’s puzzling courses.
Initially, the graphics are offending in the aesthetics department because they are stretched out and in dire need of anti-aliasing IF you play it on the Vita. Toggling bilinear filtering as well as other settings on your Vita will make everything way better. I believe if you played this Mini on your PSP, though, the graphics would astound you, specifically the environments and background imagery because on the Vita it looks pretty good.
The game is indeed challenging. I am a novice with this type of game, and as mentioned, I can’t go the distance. I can attest, though, that this is not the game’s fault but rather my own incompetence that holds me back from succeeding. The courses are all well designed, and you’d be surprised how much cleverness and strategy are needed just to complete one course, along with a little bit of luck too.
As usual, there are unlockables in this game, but they are limited to the balls. You can play with a basketball, a tennis ball and other things that are spherically shaped. Also, you have the option to play with full BGM or ambient sound. I chose the ambient sound, which was really relaxing and helped me hold onto my Vita rather than throwing it across my room and into the wall out of frustration. Damn my shoddy golfing skills!
If you like miniature golf or golf for that matter, ignore the score, go straight to the PlayStation Store and buy this one. I can’t let my ineptitude cloud my judgment on this one.