Golf Mania Review—It’s Up to You


I don’t follow golf. The last time I was mildly interested in the sport was back with the NES’ golf game, aptly named Golf. I haven’t played any modern video game rendition of golf, including the very popular Hot Shots Golf series.

Well, this Mini is not scaling itself to Tiger Woods’ golf; this is miniature golf. Likewise, miniature golf, both physical and electronic versions, has always failed to grab my attention, too. When Icon Games announced Golf Mania, I felt nothing. If you’ve ever watched Blue Valentine, I was Michelle Williams, and Ryan Gosling was the announcement of Golf Mania. But could Ryan Gosling win me over, or would I continue feeling absolutely nothing for him? And yes, I am still on my Blue Valentine metaphor, if it isn’t obvious.

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.

I don't remember a golf scene in Tron....

I don't remember a golf scene in Tron....

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!

Icon really went all out in the variety of courses.

Icon really went all out in the variety of courses.

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.


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16 Responses to “Golf Mania Review—It’s Up to You”
  1. huicho619 says:

    I really want this one now. Good review Jasper.

  2. Freelance says:

    Sounds cool. Thanks for the review. I’ve played Mini golf for real before and it’s fun. Got a hole in one once too :D

  3. JeremyR says:

    For a moment I got confused and thought they re-made “My Blue Heaven”, the Steve Martin/Rick Moranis movie (which was one of my roommate’s favorite movies in college) with Ryan Gosling.

  4. ChaosRandom says:

    I got to play and test the Beta of this and it’s awesome. Its looks way cooler in the final version too. I would recommend this to anyone who even half way likes mini golf.

  5. richicon says:

    7/10 = Gutted :(

  6. Freelance says:

    7 is above average! That’s good!!

  7. ChaosRandom says:

    Rich, 7 is a great score and your game is great.

  8. Barney Stinson says:

    Im going to get this and It’s going to be legend…wait for it…



    Im awesome.

  9. onmode-ky says:

    “after two exhaustive weeks, I can only complete a couple of courses below par”

    Jasper, are you aware that the game’s Pause Menu lets you restart the current hole if you are not happy with how it’s going? I just started playing and have easily passed the first 3 courses with stroke counts significantly lower than par. The restart function is really making it a blast; tweaking my starting position, direction, and power allowed me to get 6 holes in one on the third course—4 of which were the first 4 holes in a row! It almost becomes a puzzle-solving, engineering exercise, where you work towards the best solution through experimentation.

    Also, some control notes for anyone playing who hasn’t checked the Help menu: Square + L/R tilts the camera’s view, and once you’ve placed the ball, L/R alone zooms the view in and out (L/R rotates the camera during ball placement). Very helpful for planning your shots.

  10. richicon says:

    Thanks guys – the positive feedback is very much appreciated. I think I was so disappointed with the 7 as I felt this was our best Mini to date, and is most likely going to be our last Mini. Wanted to finish on a high note :)

  11. sniper712 says:

    looks like the one Icon games i do want to play…after HG and FCG

  12. huicho619 says:

    No marble boy? :(

  13. richicon says:

    I think Marble Boy will be PSS now (Playstation Suite).

    The feedback we’re getting from Sony, combined with user feedback – i.e. many seem to be playing Minis on Vita now – it doesn’t make financial sense now to continue Minis development.

    I think PSS is the new Minis, and there will be a LOT of activity on this front over the next few months from a lot of developers.

  14. Freelance says:

    Sucks as I won’t be getting a Vita for a long while.

  15. onmode-ky says:

    Man . . . I was looking forward to Marble Boy as a Mini, too. ;_;

  16. huicho619 says:

    You guys might not read this but, at Icon Games website, Marble Boy’s description says Minis EXCLUSIVE

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