Developer: three-2-one GmbH
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Mini Golf Ace - Once in a while, an app comes to my attention that no matter how many times I use it, play it, or share it, I am undecided about it for quite some time. Mini Golf Ace is one of those apps. In fact, everything I feel about it is contradictory — I like the graphics, but I don’t. I like the interface, but I don’t. It’s difficult to decide and while I have no doubt I will keep it on the menu, I do have doubts about how often I’ll actually play it. That said, let’s take a look at what Mini Golf Ace offers.
Touting itself as the first realistic mini golf game for the iPhone, Mini Golf Ace features 18 miniature golf courses, each with varying degrees of difficulty. Since there are other mini golf games in the app store (Mini Touch Golf and Pocket Mini Golf 2), they are mostly animated so the apropos word in the developer’s statement would be “realistic,” and to agree or disagree will all depend largely on your interpretation of simulated reality.
When I first played a round on Mini Golf Ace, I was leaning towards hating it and giving up at the ninth hole. The controls are unlike any golf game I’ve ever played and it took some getting used to. Basically, you touch the ball and then slide and drag your finger to adjust the power and direction of the golf ball when you hit it. To hit it, you simply let go. My frustration was compounded by trying to touch the ball, which covered up the ball and the directional/power circle that surrounds the ball. This left me unable to tell if my swing was engaged and sometimes when I released my touch to check, the ball moved anyway.
After spending some more time with it, I can now admit that part of my frustration was brought on by my own impatient nature. I learned that if I waited for the directional/power circle to flash green around the ball between strokes, it signaled that the ball was ready to be hit. I also learned that you don’t actually have to touch the screen directly on top of the ball. A bit of practice and patience revealed that the swing control isn’t all that difficult to master. I do wonder if people with larger fingers than mine will have problems, though.
Aside from the fortitude it took to master the swing and the fact that sometimes, such as on sloped courses, it takes the ball way too long to come to a full stop, there are a few aspects of Mini Golf Ace that I truly find compelling. Using the tilt function, you can have a complete rotational view of the course. So if you like the cup to be above the ball when you swing, you make it so. The courses are challenging enough and the three-dimensional graphics and relaxing shades of blue aren’t hard to look at, but I think there could be more visual excitement in Mini Golf Ace. I also would have liked par to be displayed for each course.
The one great thing about Mini Golf Ace is the option to play with up to four players in a single round. This enables you to not only compete against the saved high score list, but also against other players in the moment. I am still undecided about whether I like three-2-one’s interpretation of mini golf, but I will definitely keep it around. I have the feeling it may grow on me.