Wonderputt: High Art Minigolf With Spaceships

With so many games available on the iPad, for one to stand out apart from the rest, it has to be pretty stellar. Wonderputt is a great physics-based golf game that’s trying to do just that. While the gameplay may seem pretty simple to begin with, the graphics in the game are kind of amazing and throw you into a fantasy environment unlike anything else.

Will the game mechanics of Wonderputt stand up to its awesome ambience, or will Wonderputt turn out to be all flash and no substance?

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Tee Off in Wonderland

Wonderputt isn’t like other golf games. It certainly doesn’t look like a real life golf course, but that’s probably because Wonderputt doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen. You play on several levels of a terraced fantasy world, and each hole is carved out by new and extraordinary means at the conclusion of the last.

Wonderputt looks amazing, and the gameplay takes advantage of the crazy scenery.

Wonderputt looks amazing, and the gameplay takes advantage of the crazy scenery.

The first hole begins as a barren field, and the course is created as the field is bombarded from space by meteors. Another hole is created when cows are released from their barns onto a grassy field and chew their way across the landscape before finally being whisked off by a flying saucer. Still another hole appears when the field the cows have recently vacated is flooded by an underground geyser, allowing a submarine to float into view. A huge part of the fun of Wonderputt is watching the animations as each new hole is created.

Though each hole is pretty incredible, gameplay is actually as you would expect if you’ve played any physics or golf games. Tap and drag the ball, pulling it in the opposite direction of where you want it to go. For instance, if you want it to roll toward the right, pull it to the left. The further you drag backwards, the harder your ball will go flying off into the distance. Your arrow will change color and size the more pull on it, so you can get an idea of how hard you’re hitting the ball and adjust your stroke as necessary.

This exploded view of a torpedo is also a hole in the Wonderputt course.

This exploded view of a torpedo is also a hole in the Wonderputt course.

Depending on how well you do, you’ll get a birdie, eagle, or bogey. If you do really poorly (like me), you can end up with something like a bogey x7. That, for the golf-uninclined, is when it takes seven more turns to get your ball in the hole than Wonderputt thinks it should. If you agree with Wonderputt, you can always play a hole over again by tapping the Information icon in the upper left. Select any hole there and replay it until you get the score you want.

Instant Replay

Wonderputt is a pretty short game. There’s just the eighteen holes, and then you’re done. That’s it. There aren’t any other levels or scenes to work through. Despite being a pretty quick play, there’s a lot of replay value in Wonderputt. While some of the holes, especially earlier, are straightforward and pretty easy to conquer, Wonderputt throws some curveballs later in the course, and it may take several tries before you figure out how to get your ball where you want it.

You can see where you did best and all of your stats.

You can see where you did best and all of your stats.

I finished up twenty-something over par, and while ego demands I add the caveat I tried to get some bogeys just to see what would happen for the sake of the review, plenty of those extra shots were all me. Some of the holes are pretty tough to beat and it’s not at all obvious what you’re supposed to be doing with your ball when you start out. Since you already know I’m the kind of person who has to make excuses for my bogeys, you can probably figure out that I wanted to replay holes that I’d done badly on. Wonderputt also opens opportunities for bonus points after you’ve finished all eighteen holes, so you can pad your score a bit.

Surrealist Minigolf

Each hole really is a little puzzle, and not all of them can be completed by flinging the ball in the vague direction of the hole. Sure, the puzzles are pretty simple and can be figured out after one or two tries, but even after you know what you’re supposed to do with the ball, you still have to make the ball do it. That can be tricky on holes with large water traps, suspended in air, or with moving parts.

Acquire achievements as you hit milestones.

Acquire achievements as you hit milestones.

The absurdity of each hole is what makes Wonderputt so special. I loved seeing how the next hole would be created and then trying to figure out what Wonderputt wanted me to do. The entire landscape is surreal, and it’s a bit like moving through a dream, climbing from the dirt pit at the bottom to the rocket at the top.

Final Thoughts

Though a very short game, Wonderputt has a lot to offer. The images are sort of breathtaking, and it’s a lot of fun, too. There’s enough of a challenge to keep me interested, but it’s not so hard that it will turn players off. I’m a perfectionist, and I want to get under par, so I’ll be playing over and over again, and the animations that accompany just about everything that happens in Wonderputt aren’t going to get old soon.

It would be great to see an update with some additional content, and while that seems unlikely as Wonderputt is already an established Flash game, I’m still satisfied with what I’ve got here on my iPad. If you’re a fan of physics or golf games or just like to play something that looks awesome, Wonderputt is a great download.


Summary

Beautiful minigolf game with a surprising course and fun puzzles.

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