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3D Ultra Mini Golf Adventures

 

 

SCORE: 74

 

3D Ultra Mini Golf Adventures 

 

The release of 3D Ultra Mini Golf Adventures was a pleasant surprise for me. I was a big fan of the original 3D Ultra Mini Golf released by Sierra in the late ‘90s and had spent many enjoyable hours playing it with friends and family. This re-imagined version by Wanako games improves on some areas of the game while also losing some of the things that made the original great. As you may have guessed by the title, the game takes the real world fun of mini golf and adds unique twists that are only possible in the digital realm. Players adventure through 36 wacky holes of golf spread over unique locales. The old west, outer space, and an old-school carnival are the three standard themes in this game with a lost island theme available in certain editions.

The use of 3D environments is presented well giving players a sense of being on the course. Colorful levels designed around the afore mentioned themes provide an enjoyable golfing experience. Each hole features unique design elements relating to the overall theme of the course. For example, in the old west course you will encounter some pesky prairie dogs that simply delight in knocking your ball away from the hole. In the carnival course you will have the pleasure of attempting to fire your golf ball through a barrage of bumper cars to reach the hole on the other side. The outer space course sports a Sci-Fi theme where things such as lasers and rockets will present unique challenges for the adventuring golfer. The usage of these items is done well and is what makes the game interesting and challenging. There are a few graphical features in the game that could be improved upon. The camera angles are certainly one of the major drawbacks. Most of the time this is not an issue, but every so often you’ll manage to land your ball in a location from which the camera simply prohibits you from seeing a path to the hole. This can get particularly frustrating when playing against others as it will often cause you to waste a stroke to place the ball in a better position to view the hole. The characters available in the game could also use some improvement. There are only 4 to choose from with very little customization available. The female characters in the game could stand to be dressed a bit more conservatively as well. While their attire is not completely inappropriate, it seems a bit unnecessary to have such tight clothing that reveals the stomach area of these characters. The character animations are also quite repetitive with only a few variations per character. Upon completion of a hole the characters will respond with either a positive or negative animation depending on how well you performed. The characters can exhibit some overly negative emotions when the player does poorly. For younger players this is not a healthy display of good sportsmanship. All in all there are very few unfriendly graphics in the game. One hole features a graveyard and another features a pirate ship with a skull at the bow, but that’s about as dark as this game gets.

The audio is where this game falls short. While the music used is theme based and nicely fits each course, it is so repetitive that it borders on annoying. The sound effects are underwhelming and the characters are mute with no vocal expression whatsoever. There are no offensive sounds found in the game which is a plus. The effects used for the golfing actions are done well and give the player a sense of hitting an actual golf ball.

3D Ultra Mini Golf Adventures will almost certainly keep you coming back for more. Although some of the holes are almost too easy, many others will leave you wishing you had done better and wondering if perhaps you could have approached the hole differently. The game also features a map editor for creating your own courses. While this is a neat feature and adds some replay value for those of us who have always aspired to design mini golf courses, it lacks pizzazz by limiting you to using bland predesigned layout elements with none of the nifty themed elements found in the game. Multiplayer adds a whole new dimension to this game and allows for varied gameplay. Up to 4 players can compete against one another in a mini golf free for all. The only catch is that in the PC version you must all huddle around the same computer as the game offers no on-line or network play. There are also power-ups scattered throughout the courses to give the possessor unique abilities such as vacuum hole, exploding ball, and glue ball which can make for some interesting gameplay. It should also be noted that there are additional courses available in certain editions of this game. The Xbox 360 version features the Lost Island expansion and the PC also has a deluxe edition available with an additional 18 holes to play.

The simple controls of 3D Ultra Mini Golf Adventures make the game appealing to a wide range of players. A standard mouse is the only controller required to play the game on a PC. The keyboard is only required when entering your player name. The simple point and click interface allows younger players, and those not necessarily comfortable with gaming, enjoy this entertaining experience. Zooming with the mouse wheel is available though the zoom range is either too close or too far away to serve much purpose. Players should also be cautioned that they will most definitely find themselves “out of bounds” on a regular basis. The game makes little effort to prevent the ball from being wacked entirely out of play. This becomes frustrating on holes where the level design seems to encourage the ball to journey into the great unknown.

3D Ultra Mini Golf Adventures is undoubtedly a game that can provide many hours of fun for the whole family. Playing this game together as a family is an enjoyable, albeit a sometimes humbling, gaming experience. Other than the frequent negative reactions of the in game characters and Mayan-like idols on certain levels, there are very few family unfriendly items in this game. If you’re looking for a unique way to spend some quality family time, 3D Ultra Mini Golf Adventures is a great option.
-Roger

 

Graphics: 68%
Sound: 62%
Replay/Extras: 84%
Gameplay: 71%
Family Friendly Factor: 85%
System: Personal Computer/Xbox 360
Publisher: Sierra On-Line/Vivendi Universal
Rating: 'E' for Everyone

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Roger@familyfriendlygaming.com