Thursday, 12 December 2013

Golf Games #6

Wonderputt (2011)
By: Damp Gnat Genre: Sports Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PC Flash First Day Score: 117,554
Also Available For: Apple iOS

I suppose Flash games have been around for a good while now but they've never been something I've had much desire to look into. However, I recently heard about a mini golf-based example which I couldn't resist casting my peepers over. That game, unsurprisingly, is Wonderputt which features one large, isometrically-viewed 'course' of 18 holes. The whole thing is visible at once - around half of the holes occupy smaller sections of it with the remaining holes becoming available (giggity) upon completion of some of the earlier ones by way of morphing sections of landscape. The controls are extremely simple too - place the mouse cursor within a couple of inches of the ball and a 'shot arrow' appears which can be moved around the ball to aim and moved closer or further away from the ball to determine the power of your shot. Sounds like a pretty sweet idea!

It's a system that works really well too, and perfectly suits the style of the course which features short holes, simple and easy to begin with, and obviously getting more intricate as you go. The first, for example, takes place on a small, cratered area of bare ground (the result of some meteor impacts) while the next several holes take place on an adjacent area which at first is a cow field (soon relieved of its cows by a passing UFO), then a snowy ski slope, then an ice rink, and finally a gloopy lake with conveniently-placed lily pads. These holes are all fairly straightforward of course, but you'll soon encounter some harder ones such as the pesky watery 'B' above which contains water flowing in one direction and where you'll need to land to ball exactly over the slightly-submerged hole (grrr!). Whether initially irritating, amusing, confusing, or just plain weird though, all the holes are interesting and rather creative too.

Although far from a conventional golf game, Wonderputt still retains enough golfishness to assign a par value to each hole - usually from 3 to 6 - but the first time playing will likely see your score determined by luck as much as skill. I got my first ever albatross (in any golf game, I mean!) on my very first shot and I also managed a couple of hole-in-ones, but on the other hand, a couple of later holes caused me problems, especially that infernal watery example pictured above on which I scored a +16! This type of incident should occur much less often after your first play-through - there is a bit of trial and error involved to begin with but it's rarely anything but tremendous fun to play all the same. The game even keeps track of you progress, adds little rainbow gems on later play-throughs to collect for higher scores, and even offers that staple of most modern games - achievements!

It's a surprisingly comprehensive package for a free Flash game (not that I have too much experience of them, I guess!). As well as having so many compact features and surprises built into the one-screen course (well, okay, there is a brief cut-away to another small section), everything is beautifully presented as well. The simple controls allow for quick, delay-free play, there's a lovely ethereal tune which twinkles away throughout, and the artwork and animation is delightful with some great attention to detail. It's not perfect of course - you could argue that the difficulty is slightly unbalanced, for example - but I just don't have the nerve to complain when it looks so lovely, is so enjoyable to play, and doesn't cost a thing. Wherever you may happen to be - at work, on the train, in the doctor's waiting room, or even just sat at home, I can't think of many better browser-based activities to occupy the time.

RKS Score: 8/10

Special note: the screenshots above are all zoomed-in views to show some detail - here's a look at a version of the full course...

Give the splendid Wonderputt a try by visiting Damp Gnat's website here...

Special Disclaimer for the attention of my work colleagues/bosses: whilst I acknowledge that the browser-based nature of this game makes it possible to play it discreetly at work, I would like to place on record that I have at no time actually spent any work time playing it. Thank you.

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