Review: 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures

3D Ultra Minigolf AdventuresPlatform: PC, Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Publisher: Sierra Online
Developer: Wanako Studios
Release Date: 4/18/07
Genre: Sports – Golf
Players: 1-4

Putt-putt golf is one of those classic pastimes that will never go out of style. Whether you’re a child or an adult, miniature golf is an activity that everyone can enjoy. It’s perfect for birthday parties for the youngsters, family gatherings and dates, or just a fun and affordable way to burn off a few hours with a friend on those dull summer days when you just can’t seem to find anything else appealing to do. Bringing the casual fun of putt-putt into the home, Sierra Online and Wanako Studios have released 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures for download on the PC and Xbox 360 via the Live Arcade, and like the real game it offers good entertainment value for players of all ages.

In its basic pair of single-player tournament and multiplayer challenge modes, 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures provides three courses and 36 fun-filled holes to master, with four playable putt-putters to choose from. Per usual in miniature golf, the holes are divided into themes. In this game’s case, old west, carnival and outer space are the three themes that are the inspiration behind the hole designs.

As a whole, the courses show off a lot of creativity in their layouts and present a healthy challenge. Various obstacles are strewn about every hole to test your skill, including things like scorpions, snakes, bunkers, water, ramps, fans, pits, tubes, rotating wheels and much more, and secret paths and special contraptions are hard enough to find to keep you coming back again and again in order to figure out how to nail the coveted holes-in-one. The courses look excellent as well, sporting solid graphical detail and eye-catching colors. The art style is fairly pedestrian overall, especially the generic character designs, but for a simple budget game packed into a small file size the visuals are plenty impressive.

[gv data=”/wp-content/uploads/Games/3DUltraMinigolfAdventures/Trailers/MG_1min_TRL_Final_ESRB_VG_1200K_001.flv” width=”416″ height=”352″][/gv]Playing the game is incredibly simple, with multiple putt control options to tailor to your preference, be it the hold-and-release or three-click method (the XBLA version has an analog stick swing option as well). Judging how hard to hit the ball is somewhat tricky to ease into given that the ball physics aren’t exactly consistent, but it doesn’t take very long to make the adjustment and begin approximating the necessary swing speed from hole to hole. It’s usually the opening tee shots that are the toughest to judge, while the shorter putts are much easier to pick up on.

To jazz things up beyond merely clicking a button to putt, special power-ups are strategically placed throughout each hole, and if you can manage to snag one it really increases your chances of scoring low. You can earn free shots, springs that let you hop a ball over an obstacle, protective shields, bombs and even a vacuum that sucks your ball to the hole once activated. A power-up doesn’t have to be used right away either. It can be carried over throughout the course until you’re ready to use it, which adds a note of strategy to the game.

While playing through the assortment of holes is where the main source of fun lies, the game also packs in a cool course editor feature that lets you create your own wacky putt-putt holes. The course creation is very intuitive, utilizing a simple drag-and-drop system of placing course tiles onto a grid in the desired layout. Course titles come in all varieties, with different types of tee box, straights, corners, greens, junctions and ramps to choose from. After designing a hole, you can even share your creations with a friend via email in the PC version. The XBLA version doesn’t have this functionality, but it gets the better end of the exclusive platform features with online play for up to four players (the PC only offers local multiplayer).

Due to the lack of online play on the PC, the Xbox Live Arcade version is clearly the way to go if you have the choice of platforms. That and the fact that the XBLA version is also half the price at 800 Microsoft Points ($10), with the online play-less PC version running a pricier $20 (keep in mind that demos are available on both platforms too, so you can try before you buy either way). But regardless of platform pros and cons, 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures in either version is a well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable casual game that is an excellent title to putt around with on your PC or 360 as the hot summer months approach.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!