Planet Minigolf - Stronghold Island

Review

posted 10/22/2010 by Tina Amini
other articles by Tina Amini
Platforms: PS3
My feelings on Planet Minigolf as a whole are in complete agreement with Chad’s review. Although there’s certainly a lot of customization and some great courses to explore and appreciate, the abysmal camera angles (or lack thereof) make enjoying the minigolf experience incredibly difficult.

I’d like to tell you that the Stronghold Island DLC provides some gameplay tweaks to fix those hindering qualities, but I would be lying if I did.

If you did not take issue with Chad’s assessment of the flaws in Planet Minigolf, you can rest assured that Stronghold Island provides yet another intriguingly creative minigolf atmosphere. The appeal to real life minigolf is each course’s wacky installations and creative obstacles. Let’s face it: we’re not all keen nor talented enough to drive a ball long distances and calculate which club to use at which angle to be able to play golf professionally. Give a gamer an objective however, and set that challenge on them, and we will most likely find enough motivation there to want to play the game. Minigolf takes the professionalism away and caters to our kiddish desires of bright and flashy, Charlie and the Chocolate Factor kind of fantasies.

Does Stronghold Island continue this kind of visual story telling? Yes, it certainly does. Simultaneously, however, Stronghold Island continues in the same line of flawed camera angles that befuddle your minigolf strategizing. This is a shame because Planet Minigolf has an interesting array of power-ups that are constantly being called to use. Particularly on harder settings, power-ups are actually necessary to traverse certain obstacles on the courses. How else can you get your golf ball to leap hundreds of feet away to the next platform, which is levitating at a threatening distance away, without a burst of speed or wings to fly you across? With this added challenge, Planet Minigolf finally feels like an actual competitive game rather than a task.

The power-ups certainly create an interesting gameplay formula, particularly because each course is now open to even more creative angles. The designers can detach platforms from one another, have gaps between them, or let the end curve off forcing the player to use the sticky power-up to keep it in place before it falls out of bounds. Stronghold Island’s courses definitely make use of the power-ups, but unfortunately with such a limited camera view, you can barely apprehend what is to come next and therefore strategizing is left to on-the-fly decision making. Sometimes power-ups are even placed at odd sections of the course, making getting to them fel counter productive instead of actually useful in the way they were meant to be.


The courses themselves are quite beautiful. From the Abandoned Garden to Angel’s Lookout to the Castle Gate, all of the courses are mid-air, and stick to an Aztec-like theme with tan-colored architecture and statues. Snake obstacles give your ball a roller-coaster ride, spitting them out at the opposite end, and armored soldiers with swinging axes force you to time your shot to get across them.

While the setting is great, the music couldn’t be cheesier. It was reminiscent of an outdated game show. If you listen closely, you’ll notice birds chirping in the background complemented by water splashing below. This would have been much more fitting had the team decided to stick with background sound effects as opposed to the soundtrack chosen. While this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, the other flawed qualities of the game beg the rest of them to at least make up for it.

If you were a fan of Planet Minigolf, flaws and all, and are looking for more challenge with the same creatively designed courses, Stronghold Island is probably for you. If you are a stickler for accurate and comfortable controls, however, I would suggest you stay away from the DLC.
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