For those of you with a Nintendo Switch in hand, casual gaming on your mind and an intense dislike of golf in your gut, the gamemakers at Triband games have a suggestion: You should play What the Golf?
Theirs is a self-proclaimed “golf game for people who hate golf.” And the reason this very indie-feeling golfing game can make that claim is because it is the most chaotic and silly sink-something-into-a-little-hole-somewhere game you’ll likely ever encounter. What the Golf? first launched near the end of 2019 for iOS devices and the PC and was just recently ported to the Switch with features that critics have said make for a sparkling improvement.
The general idea is, well, golf. You start out with the basic mechanics of pointing an arrow in the direction you’d like a ball to go, hold down a power meter button to determine how hard you’ll hit the sphere and then watch as the little white orb flies or rolls toward the hole.
Yeah, that first hole feels as standard as it gets. After that, though, things start, uh, rolling in a different direction.
By about the third hole, an actual golfer shows up. But when he cocks back his club, it’s not the ball that goes flying but the golfer himself. And you must keep thwacking his little ragdoll self into the assigned goal. After that, all bets are off.
This physics-based puzzle game has you launching everything from cats to country houses to a quarry full of golf clubs as you maneuver various obstacle courses and make your way forward. All the many puzzle challenges are stitched together by something of an enormous miniature golf course hub, housing smaller sections made up of similarly themed puzzle-holes.
You’ll be aiming at door switches in a secret lab, or using Spider-Man-like web blasts to swing your shot in, or figuring out the right touch to hit a super-bouncy ball made of flubber or a sticky glob of glue. The course map stretches on and on with bizarre little holes that require the maneuvering of a couch, a cow or a conga line. And it’s all soothingly underscored and kept short, sweet and jokey.
The game keeps those little visual jokes and cute twists and turns rolling for what seems longer than humanly possible. But it’s all tongue and cheek and (except for the sly reference to a possible profanity in the title) always family friendly. Puzzles do include a few exploding balls and barrels, along with hurtling characters like the above-mentioned thumped-about golfer, but nothing that would cause a mother’s eyebrow to raise.
Oh, and speaking of family and Mom, the game is pretty perfectly suited for the pick-up and go Switch, too. Kids, teens and adults can grab it and play through a hole or two at a bored point in the day or toss it into a backpack for a later stretch of play on the bus or train. And the Switch version has a two-person split-screen competitive mode that can fill some sibling backseat time on a long drive. In the final assessment, then, the gamemakers behind this quirky little indie puzzle game may be right: It is a pretty smile-worthy golf game for those who really don’t care a whit about golf. And it might be just the sort of light, clever and silly game we could all use right about now.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.