If you turn on your Nintendo Switch and look for a golf game, there are many, many results. Why? Simplicity. The game of golf isn’t really a difficult sport to get the concept of. Hit the ball into the hole in as few shots as possible. It’s a simple game that anyone young or old understands. The problem that exists with so many golf games is that they aren’t all designed the same. Some try really hard for realism (games like 3D MiniGolf or The Golf Club), while others try for more arcade fun play (see Infinite Minigolf). House of Golf tries to be a standout arcade golf game and, while fun to play, proves to be an inconsistent experience.
What makes House of Golf a fun game to play is that it understands simplicity. You don’t have to be over the top to make a fun, golfing experience. There are no power-ups, speed ramps, no gimmicks that can overly complicate golf games. It’s just a simple game of mini-golf. The benefit House of Golf has over some of the other golf games on Switch is course variety. There’s plenty of different courses to choose from, each course consisting of 9 holes. All these courses are focused around someone’s house, so you can choose from playing in the garage to the kitchen, etc. This is nice, as I’ve played a number of golf games on Switch that like variety and offer few courses. House of Golf offers 135 different levels, so you get a good bang for your buck.
Overall the experience of playing House of Golf is nice. Environments look good, the music is good, and no matter what playstyle you choose (docked or handheld) the game looks and runs great. What was more surprising to me was the support for 6 players. I always enjoyed playing golf games like Mario Golf with friends so the ability to play with friends is a welcome addition. 6 players was a surprising number to me, and it works pretty well. The gameplay is quick enough that no one felt like they were waiting around a very long time between turns.
The biggest issue I have with House of Golf are its physics. This game is incredibly particular in how hard you hit the ball. I mean, like, REALLY particular, to the point where I found myself saying, “That’s not how physics work!!” Balls hit below a certain point on the scale would not move a single inch, where a ball hit full speed might fly off the course or, more frustratingly, still not be powerful enough to make it. It’s this inconsistency that would typical.y make a fairly fun experience into a frustrating one. It felt like a classic example of the phrase “the rules are the rules until they aren’t the rules.” This meant having to spend a few tries at the beginning of each course figuring out how sensitive the game would be to you.
The other main issue I had with House of Golf was the camera. The camera was always borderline good enough, which became a problem the more I played. It’s not that the camera doesn’t work, it’s just that you can’t control it the way you need to. There were instances when I would hit a ball that would end up close to a large plant, and then it was impossible to see the ball. Even trying to adjust the camera at that moment, you still couldn’t see where the ball was aimed at. It meant there were times I was just blindly hitting the ball just so that I could see the ball again. While the camera is not a game-breaking issue and one that could be fixed in a patch, it’s an annoyance that makes playing the game on harder difficulties an absolute chore. There’s a legitimately fun golf game in here, if only the game fully worked the way I wanted.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 8th November 2019