MinMax Games, headquartered in British Columbia, has a history of releasing small titles that feature old-school gameplay – about what you expect from a two-man development studio – and their latest title, Golftopia, is now available in Steam Early Access.
It’s a surprisingly ambitious golf simulator for a small studio, allowing players to build the course of their dreams – or nightmares. The game starts small, with a single plot of land that will allow for only a few holes, but it’s enough to learn the ropes of terrain editing and course layout, and start learning what works for the virtual golfers and what doesn’t.
After you’ve got a hole or two done, you can open the course and start getting feedback from golfers. I noticed right away that my opening hole, intended to be a challenging par 3 with a large green that golfers had to cross water to hit, was closer to ‘impossible’ than ‘challenging’ and necessitated some quick editing to make it playable. Fortunately, the terrain editing process is quick to pick up, even if it’s not quite as precise as I would have liked, and the hole was playable in no time.
The rest of my course, including a massive hole 2 that started high on a hill and wound its way down to a small green surrounded by sand. Eventually that hole also included a massive ring of fire for people to try to send their drive through and a bounce pad that added a ton of distance to any drive that managed to hit it – both huge crowd-pleasers.
Yes, while Golftopa CAN be played as a straight up golf course simulator, you can also add in a ton of weird and wild accessories if you choose. Some are less optional, including weed-destroying mortars and robotic drones that will eventually have to be deployed to keep the course clear as it expands.
That initial small plot of land, suitable for three holes, eventually gets outgrown and you’ll have to buy a neighbouring section to continue development. From three holes you grow to six, then nine, eventually completing a sprawling 18-hole course that might just be the envy of the golf world. That will depend on your customer base, which you’ll need to convert into fans that upgrade their memberships, allowing you to expand.
What I Loved:
- easy large-scale terrain editing and course layout
- runs well, even when the course starts to sprawl
- tons of feedback available from golfers
What I Liked:
- simple but charming graphics that will age well
- golfers improve their skill over time
- a lot of replay value for under $25
What I Disliked:
- not always easy to tell what golfers dislike about a hole
- information overload is entirely possible
What I Hated:
The Final Word:
Golftopia promises to allow gamers to design, build, and manage their own futuristic golf course, and – like my own golf game – it sometimes hits the mark, but also strays off into the weeds from time to time.