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3D Mini Golf

Score: 35%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Merge Games
Developer: Z-Software
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Alternate, Local not Online)
Genre: Sports (Golf)/ Mini-Games/ Sports

Graphics & Sound:

Typically, it’s pretty easy to cut indie game makers a bit more slack when it comes to visuals, as long as the gameplay is fun. In the case of 3D Mini Golf, neither is the case. While passable, the graphics of the courses remind me of Super Monkey Ball. There is one major difference, however. That was a fun game. 3D Mini Golf’s visuals are just about as basic as one can imagine and still have it recognizable as a putt-putt game.

The holes consist of the same repeatable patterns and textures, one by one, as they pass by. There really isn’t much in the way of "terrain" in the game either, as most holes are remarkably flat and lack subtle variations in the surface. Obstacles on the holes are also very limited in visual quality. In fact, even the ball looks like it is floating above the terrain, which takes away from the aesthetics of the game.

From an auditory standpoint, 3D Mini Golf has the basics. There is background music that is not really memorable, yet it wasn’t distracting, so at this point that is a good thing. Sound effects were limited as well, but once again, they didn’t take away any further from what could have been a potentially fun game had the gameplay and presentation been better.


3D Mini Golf is really, really basic. There is no way around saying this, but the game really just isn’t fun. Unfortunately, the developers have taken a stance on defining what mini golf should be, but it doesn’t agree with much of what society may find entertaining. In the physical world, the courses would likely make sense, yet they would still be as boring as they are virtually. I’m reminded of a tiny miniature golf course in a hotel that I played one time. Because there was nothing else to do and it was something I couldn’t do at home, it was mildly entertaining. But in reality, it really didn’t extract much emotion as I played. 3D Mini Golf is similar, yet lacked even that one thing that could have saved it…

…online multiplayer. Just like most of my putts in this limited game, multiplayer is sunk. While 3D Mini Golf does allow multiple people to play, it does not have an online mode. Hey wait, maybe there is a theme here. At the time I played in the hotel, online didn’t exist either. We had to play PGA Tour Golf (yeah… waaaaay before Tiger took the scene) but taking turns on the mouse and keyboard too.

What would have made this game fun to play – regardless of some of the oddities I’m about to mention – would have been to take the reality of the physical world and take it to an extreme. Maybe some more in-your-face themes would have also helped to hold the player’s attention, but the basic environments just didn’t spark anything inside. It’s amazing how something so basic as a mini golf course can be done all wrong…

…and then come the problems. As much as I don’t want to bring this up, I suspect that one or two things went majorly wrong with 3D Mini Golf’s development. Maybe both. Anyone that knows anything about golf knows the terms related to the sport, yet the developers missed this mark around every dogleg. It’s very possible that English may not have been a first language in this case, but if a game were to be ported, I would think one would want to research correct terminology for the sport they are trying to emulate, even on a small scale. One of the most offensive examples was the misuse of the words "course" and "hole." There was originally confusion around the game where potential buyers thought there were 54 18-hole courses, only to be disappointed to find 3 18-hole courses (54 holes total). [Ed. note: That has since been corrected in the product description on Steam.]

Another even more egregious thing that has to be mentioned is that nearly every hole in the game… is a par of one (1). Yes indeed… to get par, the player has to get a hole-in-one on nearly each and every hole. Given the game’s basic courses and the holes within, it likely is possible to hole out each time, but that is also a bit unlikely. Even so, there is no possible way to get under par in this game, leaving little room for improvement other than total score. This all leads me to believe that the developer’s haven’t ever even played the game of golf (let alone simply done a bit of research).

Another surprising example for lack of golf knowledge comes when the ball is hit out of bounds, yet incurs no penalty other than being replaced from the last lie. While this in and of itself isn’t the end of the world, it once again shows how elements of real golf are simply overlooked or left out. Oh, and "pocket the ball?" Maybe I missed the memo that this was converted into a bumper pool game. Billiards anyone?


There are two modes of play in 3D Mini Golf. First off is the basic Challenge Mode where you can actually choose the course and skip to any hole you wish (after unlocking them). There really isn’t any incentive other than trying to "par" each hole (many times a hole in one, mind you!), although the game does have some achievements for how well you do. This was the first mode that I gave a try. I was excited at first, thinking that the basic holes at the start were to help the player get a feel for the controls and learn how to putt. After a few more holes like this, however, skepticism set in. Finally, after playing all 18 holes on the first course, disappointment soon followed. It wasn’t until I jumped into courses two and three that I put it all together. It felt like watching Kevin Costner hot ball after ball into the drink… just waiting for that golden shot… that never came. With the exception of a few more intriguing holes, all three courses are just more of the same.

The other mode, Tournaments, allows the player to choose a course and difficulty prior to going in with the intent of competing against fake computer players. When starting this mode, the player can choose a number of stars to determine how low the computer players will shoot on their scorecards. Now we’re getting somewhere. But wait, where are these players? Don’t get me wrong, while I also like having the option to skip computer players… there were none to skip. So basically, the "tournament" ended up being me playing Challenge Mode again, with the only difference being a score card popup that displayed mysterious beings that I’m competing against. On top of that, increasing the difficulty only seemed to affect a few players rather than the entire field.

Game Mechanics:

3D Mini Golf has very basic controls, but there are multiple options to achieve them. The most common setup will likely be to use the mouse to navigate and play the entire game. Right-click dragging will rotate the camera around the ball, and the Left mouse button will shoot. To do so, it takes two clicks, one for adjusting the power, then a second time to actually shoot. Unfortunately, the player is also limited to the "shot view" and is unable to freely move the camera around to see the hole from different angles, which is a must in mini golf.

While I love a great mini golf game as much as the next person, 3D Mini Golf is far too rough (pun intended) around the edges. It is an extremely basic game that does not justify the $15 USD price tag. Even on sale, getting more than a few hours of fun (and I say that loosely) out of this title would be pushing it. The sheer fact that there are a number of issues with the game, its presentation, and its vocabulary makes 3D Mini Golf’s fun factor drop tremendously. [Ed. note: I believe updates have been pushed and some fixes are now in.]

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP/ Vista®, Windows 7, Windows 8; Processor: Dual Core 2 Ghz or better; Memory: 2 GB RAM; Graphics: Video 3D 256MB; DirectX: Version 9.0; Hard Drive: 1 GB available space; Sound Card: Windows compatible sound card

Test System:

OS: Windows 7 Professional; Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-5930K CPU @ 3.50GHz 3.50GHz; Memory: 32 GB RAM; Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 980 with 4GB GRAM; DirectX: Version 11

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