Recently, I’ve been playing games with one of my friends on our Switches. His collection far outnumbers mine, but we have started to exhaust the amount of ways that I can defeat him in various games. I was actually on the hunt for a new game for us to play together, when House of Golf falls into my lap. A game focused on – but not limited to – multiplayer mini golf. I’m mildly keen on mini golf, and have played a number of mini golf games before, so it couldn’t have been more serendipitous.
There are a couple of mini golf games out there on the Switch, but House of Golf has a slight upper hand on them I feel. With over a hundred different holes in five separate themes, and allowing up to nine different people to play, this game has a humongous potential for multiplayer fun. The Switch has definitely played a prominent role in bringing back couch co-op games, and it is fantastic to see. It really brings you back to the early days of console gaming, where you would invite people over and socialise with them rather than just play with them over the internet. Although I do feel there could be enhancements made – such as ball collision – the multiplayer mode should certainly appeal to all gamers.
The five themed courses – all based around the areas of a house – are all rather lovely. Each one has various doodads and niknaks that act as hazards, predominantly to block your ball from progressing but there are some dubious liquids spilled around that alter the traction of your ball. Every aspect seems like the developer and designers really wanted to build a realistic room, and then try to form a golf course using the various assets that you’d usually find in that particularly room. For example, in the bedroom you have a selection of board games and toys, whereas in the garage you’ll find a variety of paints and other tools. Everything seems exceptionally well detailed and you never really see anything that feels out of place, which makes every hole feel unique and enjoyable.
With the game being a golf game, you’d expect the golf to be solid – and it is, so I won’t harp on too much about it. There is a bit more to it than just the golf though, and this is the only real reason to play it single player. Hidden around each hole is a coin for you to collect. Some are quite obvious, but some are devilishly well hidden, and you’ll need to hunt around quite a bit to locate everything and fully complete the level.
I would have to say that while the levels are well designed in House of Golf, none of them blew me away. I suppose I’m forever comparing these games to Golf With Your Friends, which might be a bit harsh as Golf With Your Friends is a spectacularly fun and imaginative game. I didn’t get the same vibe with House of Golf, holes seem short and with only marginal differences per course which was slightly offputting. There were plenty of obstacles as well which seemed to give a bit more character, but with the physics being occasionally a bit funky with them, it just made them a little more frustrating than anything. There were also plenty of places where you could get trapped down an alley that would take a couple of shots to come out of which seemed unnecessarily punishing.
In addition to the slightly wonky physics, occasionally the camera gains a bit of sentience and decides that it’s purpose in life is to show you the hard work that has been put into the ceiling of each environment. For whatever reason, every few holes, the camera would pan up. And like the fool that I was, I thought this was the game showing me the route to the hole, so I pressed the A button to skip it… Only to realise that was my first shot and I’d not moved an inch. It’s a strange bug, that I can’t really imagine how they’d track down as it didn’t seem to follow a pattern, but it was immensely frustrating every time. The camera doesn’t pan up or down particularly quickly either, so it can be a real pain in the backside. Further to that point, the starting camera – if it hasn’t panned upwards – points you towards the flag. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it doesn’t really give you a good flavour of where to go exactly on the course. This actually ties back into my previous negative – the designers couldn’t create courses that were too challenging or requires any exploration, because each course is so short as there is no way to demonstrate what there is to come.
The Final Word
House of Golf lacks a small bit of polish, and definitely misses out some finer aspects to really push it to the top tier of mini golf games, but overall it’s not bad. The hidden coins will give you plenty of things to do while you wait for your mates to turn up for a round, and the game looks nice and plays well. A small amount of fixes and enhancements would really make it a great, must-have game for mini golf fans.