What the Golf? (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Sports game/ Physics game
Developer: Triband
Publisher: TribandProductions
Platform: PC, Switch, iOS
Tested on: Switch

What the Golf? (Switch) – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Funny and light-hearted
Bad: Some references probably won't hold up over time
User Score
9.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Developer Triband bills What the Golf? as a golf game for people that hate golf. It’s a bit of an odd way to push your game to an audience that theoretically would hate your game, so we were intrigued, to say the least. Now, we don’t hate golf (we’re indifferent about it) but we took to the green anyway to find out whether or not What the Golf? is a hole in one.

Story

There’s no story but in all honesty, we didn’t feel the game needed one either. 

Graphics

What the Golf? has a simple but pleasing pastel-colored aesthetic. The graphics are minimalistic, but every object looks like what it’s supposed to represent. There’s a huge variety in the levels and environments you’ll encounter but by sticking to the same art style, the game manages to maintain a recognizable look. The cute and quirky character designs that you’ll encounter throughout the various levels further cement What the Golf?’s look, meaning that people familiar with the game will instantly recognize the visuals. The recurring characters, such as the turtle in a Viking helmet and the half penguin/half hamburger really stand out. We’re a bit surprised that Triband picked the golf player as the poster boy for this game, as he’s probably one of the lesser appealing character designs. Not because his character is a bad design per se, but simply because he’s very bland compared to the other characters.


Sound

The music is as varied as the graphics, but also maintains a consistent style. The game manages to avoid falling into the trap of sounding very generic by offering a huge selection of stage-appropriate tracks. A particular favorite of ours was the a cappella rendition of not-quite-Super Mario music, which sounded just different enough to avoid having to pay royalties. The overall tone of the music is upbeat and cheerful, and although none of the tracks really are earworms, the soundtrack still conveys a feeling of fun and lightheartedness. 

Gameplay

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: What the Golf? is not a golf game by traditional standards. While the core mechanics take inspiration from golf, Triband takes every conventional expectation you may have and throws those out the window. Your goal is obvious: you need to navigate a ball through an obstacle course by hitting it, ensuring it arrives at a hole. That’s where the similarities with other golf games end though. Obstacles on the courses aren’t limited to what you’d normally expect to encounter in a golf game. You’ll find yourself avoiding exploding barrels, soccer players that try to kick your ball off the course and giant fans that blow the ball away from its intended path. Most levels are presented from a top-down view, but there’s plenty of courses that put a twist on this as well, with some of the more extreme switch-ups taking place in a zero-G environment in outer space. 

What the Golf?’s controls are deceptively simple. Using the left joystick, you aim the ball where you want it to go. Pressing A will send the ball in your direction of choice, and holding down A determines the force with which you hit it. Now, when we say ‘ball’, be aware that anything in this game can be a ball. Sometimes, it is a normal golf ball. Sometimes a car. Sometimes it’s a house. As you would imagine, each of these objects has different physical properties, and part of the fun of What the Golf? is in discovering how each ball acts on the course.

Variety is one of the game’s biggest strengths: What the Golf? continuously attempts to surprise the player, and manages to dodge predictability successfully most of the time, with hilarious results. The game never takes itself seriously, and the light-hearted atmosphere ensures it never becomes frustrating to play. Each of the courses is bookended with a pun too. Some are genuinely funny and others are deliberately cringeworthy.

Then there are the references: the game feels like Triband is writing a love letter to video game classics and pop culture that is close to them. You’ll find stages inspired by Portal, Super Mario and Angry Birds, among others. The game also pays tribute to all kinds of movies and tv shows, including a very subtle but unmistakable reference to Rick & Morty. Despite these references being all over the place, they never feel forced, and everything meshes together surprisingly well. We do have to admit that we’re not sure that the references will hold up over time. One example that stuck out was a ‘Covfefe’ mention that already felt a bit stale.

There’s a surprising amount of content -and replayability- to be found here. Stages can be cleared pretty easily for the most part, but they can be revisited at higher difficulty levels. There’s also free downloadable challenges and a multiplayer mode and even a showcase mode so that you can introduce the game to your friends. Combine this amount of content with the game’s ability to continuously surprise its players and simple but satisfying mechanics and you’ve got a really fun experience. We do feel it’s best enjoyed in short bursts of twenty-ish minutes if you’re playing solo, as it allows you to embrace the quirkiness without it becoming too much. What the Golf? doesn’t attempt to hit that “one more try” feeling of addictiveness either, meaning it’s just as easy to put down as it is to pick it up. The driving factor behind playing the game lies in its ability to surprise its audience with constant twists, rather than offering gameplay that keeps sucking in players. Ultimately, that’s a good thing, but it does mean that the game feels a bit shallow at times. 

Conclusion

What the Golf? takes a very simple concept and pushes it to its limits in the best possible way. There’s a good amount of content to be found here, alongside charming graphics, a cute soundtrack, and a barrage of hilarious surprises. We really recommend giving this one a shot, whether you hate golf or love it. 

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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What the Golf? (Switch) - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


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