Infinite Minigolf Review

By Mark Delaney, 25 days ago
To call your game Infinite Minigolf is to simultaneously imply it's exactly what you'd expect and so much more. You can't really reinvent the proverbial wheel with minigolf but Zen Studios does let you reinvent the golf course over and over. Although it offers many modes and ways to play, and most of them are done well, Infinite Minigolf's greatest attribute is its course editor that gives the total package a feeling of nearly limitless entertainment.

minigolf

For starters, the solo mode offers three themes — Giant Home (think Micro Machines), Nightmare Mansion (Halloween), and Santa's Factory (Christmas). Each theme contains four pre-made nine hole tournaments and each of those can be played on three difficulties for added obstacles and challenges. Each theme brings its own unique mascots like mischievous elves in the Christmas levels and a rockstar vampire in the Halloween levels. These mascots are usually there to aid you and act as gears in the often Goldbergian courses. Other items on the green may similarly be of great benefit, like toy car tracks and vacuum tubes, but that's not always the case, of course. Sometimes items in your way, like an RC car doing donuts or a vibrating smartphone, are the new age windmills and crocodile mouths of contemporary miniature golf.

Some holes, especially early on, are there only to wow you with their multi-step processes that bring the ball from your club to the hole in one stroke. Other times, accuracy and strategy are crucial, meaning it's a mix of minigolf as both spectacle and sport. The number of tournaments at 12 (or 36 if you count the variants) is a good starting point, but it loses some favor because of the way it blocks off the harder difficulties.

To play any medium level tournament on any one theme, you must first beat all four tournaments on easy for that given theme. This means, for example, your first Giant Home tournament on medium difficulty can come no sooner than your fifth tournament, and likewise your first hard tournament on the same theme will arrive no sooner than your ninth go around. It's an odd move to hand-hold for as long as Infinite Minigolf does, because it makes the game's solo options too easy for too long. When you eventually get to the hardest difficulty, the solo options are infused with proper fun as the AI opponents finally begin to challenge you.

The core gameplay is solid, but it's made better with friends.The core gameplay is solid, but it's made better with friends.

The actual gameplay of Infinite Minigolf is best done in multiplayer modes. As is usually true with video games of this sort, more people joining in only makes it more fun. Local competitive play is arguably the best of the game's modes; it still allows up to eight people like the online multiplayer, but it comes with no lag that was sometimes an issue when the player isn't the host of an online game. This lag usually wasn't an issue outside of being visually displeasing, but on one occasion my aim arrow stopped responding and I had to guess where it pointed.

If you don't have any problems with lagging online modes then playing any course or tournament with any number of people is a lot of fun. It can be as competitive or as casual as you'd like given the separation of lobbies into ranked and unranked types, and you can search for various game sizes like 1v1 or tournaments of 4-8 participants. Players are ranked in online play like they would be in most other games but this ranking system is quite confusing. Taken in isolation the online ranking is simple, but it's one of seemingly three ranks alongside an offline numerical rank and a star ranking. How the numbered rank and star ranking coexist, I'm not so sure and it's never explained well.

There are two forms of currency as well — gold coins and avatar "dollars". Each aspect of your avatar can be customized, from hair and glasses to shoes and belt buckles, but each of these has their own currency. For example, after a game you may be rewarded with five pants dollars and five hair dollars. It complicates things for reasons that are unclear. The gold coins can be earned by performing specific tasks from the missions list that is regularly replenished with new goals. With these coins you can buy packs of avatar dollars. It's all confusing, never explained well, and carries the look of a microtransaction-heavy mobile or free-to-play game, although it should be noted that there are no microtransactions available, at least right now.

Sorry, this here's a hair dollar. We only accept belt dollars at our establishment.Sorry, this here's a hair dollar. We only accept belt dollars at our establishment.

Once you do start to grasp the complex currency system and unlock avatar items, the options are plentiful and fun in almost all cases. Noticeably, there doesn't seem to be any option to make a person that is tanned or maybe Hispanic. You can only choose black, white, or Asian. It's unfair to offer such a fun character dress-up suit and exclude a portion of the players that may want to make someone that looks like them.

All of this is merely preamble to the game's shining achievement, the course editor. Across any of the three themes and using any combination of obstacles, power-ups, and features, players can create their own courses and even nine hole tournaments. Toying around with the editor tool for a few minutes will get you learning quickly, although it could have been made even easier if there was a tutorial to learn all the ways you can shape your dream putting green. The list of options is daunting. If you've seen it utilized by the developers in their official courses, you can replicate it or even improve things in your own way. Every inch of the custom courses is really up to you. That's why the game is comfortable calling itself "infinite". As long as users keep making their own courses, there will always be a new challenge that awaits.

At time of writing there are already over 2,000 custom holes and likely dozens of custom tournaments. The number of player creations should reach five or even six figures with a steady player base. Some courses are made to assist players with achievements, like the sort of worlds one may see in Minecraft, while others are meant to be funny, unflinchingly hard, confusing, or more Rube Goldbergian than the cartoonist himself. If you don't want to make your own courses, you don't need to. You can still reap the benefit of having a community of countless creators ready to impress you. These courses can be played across all modes too, so it keeps online or local multiplayer fresh and does well to supplement the annoying setup of the solo tournaments.

Some custom courses have been used to lobby local governments.Some custom courses have been used to lobby local governments.

On the achievement side, expect a bit of a grind for a completion but you can get a good chunk of them within a few hours. Ranking up all the way to level 50 is going to take a long time, while unlocking 50 avatar items won't take very long at all. You'll also need to play online and win up to five games consecutively, with achievements for each stop along the way besides your second victory. You'll pop your first achievement quickly as it only asks you to put the ball in the hole. You'll also need to use power-ups 100 times, rate 100 community courses, and have one of your courses rated 100 times. That last one is the only tough one of that trio. If you make a bad hole then there's a lesser chance you'll get noticed, although they can be rated negatively too, so at least you have that.

Summary

Infinite Minigolf is a complete game. Across 12 developer-created tournaments and local or online multiplayer for up to eight people, it would already run out of room on the back of its box (if it weren't a digital game). Combine that with the fun custom characters and even better course creator and the sum is an awesome game that is fun alone and even better with friends. Most aspects of the game come with caveats, but none of them go to lengths that unforgivably diminish its entertainment value. Fans of local or online multiplayer games, especially those that can be as casual or competitive as you want them to be, owe it to themselves to check out Infinite Minigolf.
4 / 5
Positives
  • Great fun as a local multiplayer game
  • Impressive course editor
  • Fun aesthetic
  • Strong and addictive core gameplay
Negatives
  • Multiple leveling and currency systems that are poorly explained
  • Single player tournaments are too easy for too long
  • Some lag may arise when you're not the online host
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent about seven hours across the game's many modes and played a lot of custom courses from players he now knows to be sadists. He unlocked 17 of 32 achievements for 430 gamerscore. An Xbox One digital copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his fiancé and son. He almost never writes in the third person.