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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Zen Studios
Developed By: Zen Studios
Genre: Sports
Players: 1-6
Rated: E10+ (Comic Mischief, Mild Suggestive Themes)
Release Date: June 1, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

October 3, 2010 - Zen Studios has made a name for themselves over the years with game release for the Nintendo DS, Xbox 360 and the PS3. While the type of games being developed has changed over the years, their nature to create a unique gaming experience remained at the core of all their games. Because of their history and drive to better themselves, Zen Studios took on their most ambitious project to date; developing Planet Minigolf for the PlayStation 3 console. While on the surface Planet Minigolf looks like your typical, run of the mill golf game. However, once you dive into the game, you soon realize that there is more to this experience than simply putting a ball into the hole.

The Play, Create, & Share moniker that Sony has adopted with several of its titles holds true with Planet Minigolf. For the ‘Play’ aspect of Planet Minigolf, players can expect 144 holes of minigolf where no two holes are the same. Zen Studios wisely divided up the action among four courses; each with four different tours: Warm-Up, Pro, Extreme and Wacky. If you have never played minigolf in life, let alone as a video game, starting out on the Warm-Up courses will help you adjust to the game quickly. It’s on these courses that you get your putting squared away and learn the early stages of performing trick shots. As you progress to the Pro, Extreme and Wacky tours, the action is intensified requiring you to survey the course with the camera before making your first putt to ensure your ball doesn’t go off the edge or gets stuck in a precarious situation.

Starting out the game, you are given a default character, which you can change from the main menu of the game. It is here that you get into the customization of your in-game character; or the lack there of when starting out. As you win each tour of golf on the four islands, you are awarded with varying levels of keys: bronze, silver and gold. There are also badges you can acquire for performing various trick shots while on the course. Pull off a hole in one from far away nets an award; bank shot the ball into the whole will also net you a special badge. These badges add to the style points you accumulate from playing each tour. At the end of the tour, once you acquired your keys, you hop out to the main menu to gain access to the shop to look at new clothing, clubs, balls and various accessories to personalize your player.

The ‘Create’ and ‘Share’ aspect of Planet Minigolf comes in the form of creating your holes or courses and uploading them to the network for others to experience; expanding the Planet Minigolf universe. As of writing this review, there are more than 30,865 holes and more than 1,876 courses available to play online. Zen Studios has given players tools necessary to create their own world of minigolf and share it with anyone and everyone who is connect to the PlayStation Network, The LittleBigPlanet of the golf world, Planet Minigolf features a full toolset that allows you to create some of the most simplistic and/or challenging holes and courses that rival the ones included within the game. Zen Studios knew the key to creating an everlasting ecosystem was to follow within the steps of big brother Sackboy and oh did they do it right. You can easily spend dozens of hours within this mode of the game creating, editing and playing various holes and courses, leaving no time for anything else.

Zen Studios opted not to go with a realistic presentation when they created Planet Minigolf. This game gives you an arcade feel with wacky characters, insane minigolf holes and course, and the ability to use power-ups in order to get out of sticky situations or simply to get the upper hand on the competition. Looking at the different landscapes from each island, you can clearly see that Zen Studios made sure to utilize every color imaginable to make sure that their environments were bright and lively. The character models are nicely details and are very fluid when it comes to swinging that putter.

The game runs in 720p with 7.1 surround sound. If you spend enough time with Planet Minigolf, you will come to realize that the in-game announcer is full of jokes and quick one-liners that keeps the action lively and entertaining. The in-game soundtrack is very befitting of the on-screen action. For those looking to spice up the experience, you have the ability to use your own music stored on the hard drive in order to provide a more energy-charged experience. For the most part the framerate is very solid. There were a couple of instances of slight slowdown, though they were very far and in.

Planet Minigolf has three different shooting styles to pick from. When it comes to aiming the ball, no matter which style you choose, you will control the aiming with the Dpad. With the easy shooting style selected, you will simply press the X button hard or soft to power the swing meter and release the button to hit the ball. With the 3-click and Direct control methods, you are able to acquire more style points that with the Easy setting. Either one of these two methods will suit you just fine, with the Direct method coming the closest to actually playing minigolf. With the Direct method, you would pull back on the left analog stick and then proceed to thrust it forward In order to hit the ball. The harder the thrusting, the harder you will hit the ball.

With the latest update to Planet Minigolf comes the ability to use Sony’s PlayStation Move controller and PlayStation Eye in order to play a more realistic round of minigolf; mimicking real-life scenarios. In comparison to the other three control methods included with Planet Minigolf, once you start using the PlayStation Move as your controller, its control scheme becomes your preferred choice for minigolf. You point the Move controller down towards the ground as if you are holding a golf club. You can hold down the Move button in order to shift and/or rotate your stance for a better shot. Once your shot is set, you let go of the Move button and hold down the T button on the bottom of the Move controller. You then proceed to pull the Move controller back in to prep you swing and then let it rip. The fast your swing is, the harder the ball will be hit and the further it will go.

I have to say that the addition of the PlayStation Move control scheme is a blessing to all of us who love Sony’s motion controller and those who simply want another viable option to choose from. Thanks to the PlayStation Eye, your gaming experience with the Move controller mimics a real-life minigolf scenario. From your stance, to how you swing the club, this addition makes the entire Planet Minigolf experience all the more better and adds to the longevity of the title.

To go along with the inclusion of the PlayStation Move control scheme, Zen Studios addressed several additional things that fans have been asking about. While the original experience was very solid, the developer looked to enhance the experience by including additions like a Practice mode, 3-player multiplayer mode (online/offline) and improved voice chat quality just to name a few. Though some of the additions are subtle and will go under the radar, it just shows you how dedicated Zen Studios is to ensuring that the experience within Planet Minigolf will be enjoyable for all who pick up a DualShock 3/Sixaxis/Move controller.

If unlocking bonus clothing, clubs and accessories… not to mention being able to create and share your own minigolf holes/courses is not enough to keep your attention, then look no further in the multiplayer aspect of Planet Minigolf. Whether playing online or offline, you and a group of your friends can get together and battle it out to see who the best virtual minigolf player is. Though this mode is not as in-depth as a Tiger Woods game is, it still provides enough options for a group of friends, family members or total stranger to come together and try to one up one another through trick shots and utilizing various power-ups. Another solid feature within Planet Minigolf to make it the go to PSN title.

Though a little late to the party, Planet Minigolf is an enjoyable experience to be had whether you are heavily into the golf/minigolf culture or simply looking for a title to help direct your creative juices a flowing. Whether it is diverse cast of characters, 144 holes of gold, the ability to create and share your holes online or playing with a group of people, Planet Minigolf is an experience that will be around for a long time. With the price point of $9.99, you can’t go wrong with purchasing this title.


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