There are a lot of golf games on the Nintendo Switch. With the likes of Golf Story already making an impact and gaining the critical acclaim of the masses, it's hard to imagine another golf game coming along to the same success.
That's where Party Golf comes in. Giant Margarita ported their hit title over to the Nintendo Switch to compete with other multiplayer indie games. In that regard, does this insane game hold up or get lost in a market that already has a lot of options? Find out in our full review.
Party Golf is a very upbeat game, and that impression is immediately given once you look at it on the eShop. Bright colors bombard the screen, presenting an image of crazy fun and earned chaos.
Going into the game, a lot of that same mindset can be expected. Apart from menus that are hopelessly bland, the gameplay itself is every bit as stylish and frantic as its title suggests. The simplistic nature combined with the capability to bring in seven of your friends melds together very well to create an indie game that more than earns its name.
Party Golf is a simplistic party game at its core; once you delve into a 'Quick Match' (the mode that the game and myself recommend you start with), you're given a quick screen that instructs you to angle your shot with the left stick and shoot with A. It's also worth mentioning that the power of your shot can be changed by how much pressure you exert on the left stick. It's an easy concept to understand and is a big draw for Party Golf.
Unlike most golf games, though, Party Golf has everyone shooting for the hole at the same time rather than taking turns. This is where most of the charm comes in. Everyone is frantically trying to make the same shot and get to the same goal. Naturally, you'll be bumping into your opponents, throwing them off course, or accidentally helping them get to the end before you do. Further adding to the chaos is that once somebody makes it in the hole, everyone else is immediately given 10 seconds to do the same or get as close as possible (points are then distributed accordingly). This change in formula feels like a cheap idea on paper but is worth so much more in terms of actual gameplay.
Making things even more chaotic is the option to turn on the "Frantic Eight Player Shared Controller Mode." This mode is every bit as crazy as it sounds. Bringing in eight people together on screen gets confusing, wacky, and beautifully fun when you're met with the right people. You have the option to play with the AI if you don't have many friends, but they don't work as well and they're not nearly as fun to beat. I should note that it was difficult to figure out how to get the eight-player mode to work (hold + for those of you wondering). This mode is the only way you can play with the split JoyCon, which seems a little too wonky for me. It would've been nice if they allowed split JoyCon to work without any hitches like that.
However, if you don't like playing with AI and you don't have any friends, there's still some content for you here. The Trials see you shooting to different holes with a certain obstacle in your path. You might have a limited number of shots or be plagued by raining debris from the sky. These challenges will test your skill as well as help you be prepared for the intensity of multiplayer. That said, while I'm glad that it's there, the single-player mode just isn't as fun as the actual golf mode.
Speaking of golf modes, you'll have the option to choose from dozens of different modes. One can turn you all into bananas instead of golf balls, while another will see water slowly rising up from the ground. There are so many modes here that it's insane and arguably worth the price of admission on its own. That said, when selecting through different modes, the game would experience notable slow down and chug along at an annoying pace.
All of the modes are fun in their own way, but Party Golf's show stealer is the Custom Mode. It's here that you're given full control over each round. You can change the shape of the golf balls, the size, the terrain, the placement of the hole, the stage hazards, the power-ups you get, and so much more. There's no end for the crazy combinations you can come up with, and there's even a "make everything random each round" option that's only for the elite players. It's here where players could spend hours coming up with the next match and challenging their friends. This system is extremely impressive in a game that doesn't even cost $20. That said, it's fairly easy to create a round where it's impossible to reach the end (thankfully, there's an option to skip any round at any time). It's also worth mentioning that the AI aren't fine-tuned enough to know how to handle certain level types and, many occasions, they're just stuck at the start fumbling around with no end. This only feeds into the reality that you're simply not going to have as much fun if you don't have friends around.
All in all, the gameplay is simple enough that it's easy to pick up and play, and the sheer amount of customization guarantees that you'll be playing for a while. There are a few hiccups along the way, but they don't diminish the impressive variation that Party Golf offers.
graphics AND audio
The visuals in Party Golf won't impress, but they certainly get the job done. Every golf ball (or player) is given a distinct color and a trail that will then route their movement. Every time you hit the ground, a little ripple effect will travel through the boundaries of the stage. The backgrounds are typically washed out colors, but that's simply so that the golf balls themselves will stand out more.
There are a lot of visual effects to coincide with the game, like every time someone gets into the hole, a colored firework will shoot out. It's all finely-tuned, I just can't stress enough how horribly boring the menu screen looks by comparison. It's just the logo with a black screen.
In the audio department, Party Golf has a lot of satisfying sound effects and music, but nothing that's going to overstay its welcome. Much like the visuals, it gets the job done. Just don't expect to be humming random Party Golf music when you're moving through the night shift at work.
With the Nintendo Switch slowly becoming the platform for indie and multiplayer games, it's no secret why Party Golf made the cut. Its frantic action, endless customization, and simple-to-understand concept all work together extremely well and actually fit the Switch better than the other consoles it appears on. Simply put, Party Golf is another great (though not perfect) multiplayer title that is worth a buy on Nintendo's hybrid system.
|+ Eight-player madness!||– AI doesn't always work|
|+ Custom Mode||– Some stages are literally impossible to beat|
|+ Fun for a long time||– Boring and sluggish menus|