Electronic Arts’ presence on the iPod isn’t that surprising when you consider that EA’s mobile games division is the company formerly known as
JAMDAT —a prolific creator of games for mobile devices. Among EA’s first offerings for the iPod is an old JAMDAT classic—Mini Golf. It makes a pleasant transition to iPod, though it’s not without some shortcomings.
In this version of Mini Golf, you get to explore three different 18-hole courses. (The first one is unlocked; part of the challenge is to unlock the other two by scoring par or better on the first 18 holes.) You can play alone or with a friend using the game’s Pass ‘n Play mode. And if you find some hazards particularly vexing, Mini Golf lets you select individual holes for practice on any course you’ve unlocked, denoting their par so you can see how badly you’re off.
The game renders your view overhead, in 2-D, and puts you on the course with small cartoon-style character (that change from game to game). Scrolling the click wheel allows you to aim your shot (or position the ball on the tee); clicking the Menu button will undo the aim (but won’t undo the shot—you’ll receive no
Once you’ve got the ball lined up as you want, pressing the Select button will activate a gauge at the bottom of the screen that pulses from low to high; the longer you let it go, the more powerful your shot will be. Clicking the select button again will fire the shot. This takes a bit of adjustment to know how much power is too much. (It’s wise to try a few practice shots before setting out on the fairway.)
In EA’s iPod version of Mini Golf, you have three different courses to choose from—but only if you score well enough on each course to unlock the others.
Aiming proves to be a bit tricky; often times I’d have my shot perfectly lined up, and I’d click the Select button to power my shot, only to find that my thumb had made some minor contact with the click wheel at the last moment. Fortunately Mini Golf is forgiving here; clicking the Menu button lets you undo power and re-aim your shot.
One thing that did get in the way of a few shots is the golfing character itself. While it’s nice to see your avatar on the course aiming just like a real person would, he or she will often block the hole, a hazard, or some other object on the course you should be aware of. I lost more than one close putt to the hole when my character was in the way as I tried to aim.
Each hole on each course has plenty of animation—from the flames of torches to wildlife, water, steep inclines and declines, pipes, animated hazard-like windmills, giant snakes, tiki heads, and more. Music and sound effects are fine for an inexpensive mobile game, and, in typical iPod fashion, you can adjust their volume (or just turn them off all together in the game’s Options menu).
Unlike other games I’ve looked at, such as
Pac-Man, Mini Golf isn’t quite as fatiguing on the thumb and hand, perhaps because less of your time is spent trying to control the action in real-time. You aim, you shoot, and repeat—it’s enough to rest your thumb a bit between putts.
Mini Golf isn’t perfect, but it’s got enough going for it to recommend it for iPod users looking for something different from an arcade game or puzzler.
[ Senior News Editor Peter Cohen reviews games for Macworld ’s
Game Room. ]