Flying low under the radar is the console port of Worms Crazy Golf, a spin-off from the venerable Worms series of turn based tactical action games. Trading in Bazookas and Concrete Donkeys for a 5 Iron and a baseball cap, does this take on the Worms formula still work?
In short, yes and no.
If you’ve played a Worms game over the past ten or so years, you may have stumbled across the challenge modes. As well as beefing up the single player content, the challenges usually showed off the way trick shots can be engineered using the robust physics model, to do things like bouncing grenades off girders to roll down a hole, shooting mines so they can fling worms off the map, using the wind to literally fly a bazooka shell around a corner, etc. Fun, challenging, and rewarding all in one neat package.
The developer, Team 17, are clearly trying to recreate this style of gameplay in Crazy Golf. Presented with appropriately Worms themed courses, all with 18 holes each, you have four goals per level. As well as making the hole within par, there’s a score to beat, and two types of collectables.
Control wise, it is as you would expect. Your small selection of club types are designed for different situations, and to swing you hold down X until you reach the shot power you desire. If you want a more traditional golf game control style, you can change the settings so that pressing X starts and then stops the power meter. There’s also a ball spin mechanic, allowing you to add spin by twirling the right stick in the appropriate direction. Using the right club with the right amount of power and spin is essential to make the trick shots demanded of you by the game on just about every hole.
Unfortunately, this is the point the game starts to fall apart. While the gameplay and physics are solid, there’s little incentive to make the most out of the system put in place for you. Completing all four challenges in one go is impossible, with at least a dozen coins scattered across each hole in sometimes obscure places, and an item crate in the most remote spot imaginable.
The impossibility comes from the strict par requirements per hole, designed as if you were solely going after this final goal, and progression only rewarded for making par. This design choice forces players to replay a hole multiple times, rather than use skill and ingenuity to complete it all in one go. The score challenge itself is different for each course, and it gives you no indication of the goal or if it has been obtained until you sink the ball.
Some of the coins are placed in such a way to be extremely difficult to collect without the aid of the utilities, modifiers to a swing you can activate at will. Reversing gravity, slowing down time, and a parachute are the sort of the items you can use. The reverse gravity utility in particular is a bit of a game breaker, allowing you to switch it on and off so you can basically hover over the course. Getting a hole in one on a par 5 course using this feels cheap and requires little to no skill.
Probably the biggest slap to the face is the near absence of the Worms zany humor. Not just in terms of the lack of weapons, although the tame utilities don’t hold a candle to a Super Sheep or the Holy Hand Grenade. While you can create a custom worm with different voices and hats, the selection is fairly limited for both, and you’ll get two or three repeated phrases out of your Worm each hole.
It really feels like an iOS game, which it is, only a third of the price. While it may be a pretty good mobile game, it’s simplicity and lack of scope makes it a boring console experience that can be finished in about an hour or two. You’re much better off playing a real Worms game.