iPhone Life magazine

Review: Mani Golf by SoGoPlay Games

Mani Golf is an interesting game.  Some might consider it an overly simple golf game with whacked out courses.  Personally, I look at it as a physics puzzle game under the guise of a whacked out golf game.  Whatever your perspective is, there’s no question that Mani Golf is fun, crazy and at times quite challenging.  You’ll not hear the word “fore” uttered from the main character’s mouth, but be prepared for some zany comments as you attempt to conquer 36 holes on two insane courses.

Dem Bones, Dem Bones....


In Mani Golf you play Gaylord Mulligan, and you’re trying to save the world… of golf!  To do this you must traverse 18 holes on two different courses filled with the wackiest layouts you’ve ever seen.  Thankfully you’re a pro, so navigating these treacherous and crooked highways should be no big deal.  You’ll still have to consider your shots very carefully, though, as just the wrong amount of power can be the difference between 3 strokes and 6.  You’ll go up trees, through ships, and even over the occasional dinosaur skeleton, all for the sake of sinking your ball under par.  You might even periodically get that coveted hole in one, though I wouldn’t make that your overriding goal if you don’t want to tear your hair out in some of the levels.  Skilled you might be, but a hole in one you won’t be getting.

The simple controls – drag the screen to look around the course and pinch to zoom in and out.  Kindly, the view will stay where you drag it as long as Gaylord is in view.  The not so simple controls – to aim you tap on Gaylord then drag the directional arc where you want Gaylord to hit the ball.  The longer the arc, the more powerful the shot is.  The main problem is that while you have a general idea of the power behind your shot, there’s no real good measure of what the arc means.  As a result, fine tuning a shot isn’t the easiest thing in the world.  That’s pretty typical for this type of game.

Where'd The Plane Go?
 

Another thing that’s kind of interesting is that if you’re at the top of the playing field heading down, your “aim” is restricted to a line parallel with your feet.  That hasn’t been too much of a problem, but I always feel like I want to point the arc below the horizon, so to speak.  You also have the ability to “guide” the ball once you’ve taken a shot by tilting the device left and right.  Sometimes this seems to have an effect, and at others it doesn’t, though that could be just because I’m using it at the wrong time or don’t understand it.  Taking this all into account, the truth is that the controls aren’t all that bad, and I’ve managed to stay at or under par on all the holes so far, which is something I can’t say for most golf games.

As I mentioned in the beginning, the layout on a majority of these holes are wild and wacky.  That’s what makes the game so much fun.  However, it also makes it basically impossible in some cases to get a hole in one.  On the other hand, several holes have more than one way to get to the same spot, and exploring your alternatives can net you a smaller stroke count.  Don’t be afraid to reset in the middle of a hole and try again.  I did that once after three strokes and ended up with a hole in one!  Now keep in mind that you can go back at any time and try and get a lower score on a hole that you’ve already completed - I’ll bet you wish real golf worked like that.

Visually Mani Golf is quite appealing.  I know I say this a lot, but there’s a cartoon like quality about the images.  The color palette is, well, colorful without being bright and gaudy.  They also use the technique where the background layer looks a bit washed out compared to the foreground, which to me always looks nice.  Everything is nicely detailed without being cluttered, and Gaylord certainly has a lot of personality.  The one thing I’d like to see is a bit more animation in the background.

I've Been Grave-Robbed!



The sound effects are decent enough.  What works really well, however, is all the comments Gaylord makes.  I love the accent, and he’s a pretty funny guy.  The music isn’t bad, but it would be nice if there were more than a few measures before the loop started repeating.

The biggest problem with Mani Golf is the length.  I’ve already beaten the 36 holes that come with the game, so now I have to wait (patiently, I guess) for the next update to play on.  Still, the time I had with the game was quite enjoyable, and since you can revisit completed holes there’s always the idea of trying to minimize your score.  If you’re looking for the next great golf game this probably won’t fill your void, but if you want a decent – albeit short – physics puzzler with a golf based theme, Mani Golf is a nice diversion for a while.

Overall Score: 7/10
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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.