As someone who played miniature golf all through high school and college, let me assure the last word you should ever associate with mini golf is “dangerous.” But by adding such words as “bouncy,” “destructive,” and “ridiculous” to the things you can say about the physics-based arcade game Dangerous Golf (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), the good people at Three Fields Entertainment have made a mini golf game that’s, well, okay, not dangerous — it’s still just a video game — but it is a lot more fun than most golf video games, mini or otherwise.
The idea behind Dangerous Golf is that you’re playing mini golf indoors, and have to destroy stuff before getting the ball in the hole. For instance, the first course takes place in someone’s dining room during a fancy dinner party, and your objective is to destroy $40,000 worth of glassware, Champaign, and vases ($120,00 if you want a gold medal) before sinking your putt.
On most of the courses in Dangerous Golf, the round plays the same. You start by teeing off, followed by having to knock the ball into the hole. You’re also given a choice of where you want to ball, and how you want to hit it: light, normal, and hard. The kicker being that if you destroy enough stuff when you tee off, which you probably will, you get a “Smashbreaker.” This is a second shot where the ball is a lot bouncier, and thus more destructive, but is shown moving in so you can give the ball a little nudge, sending it towards something you’d like smashed, or to just get it closer to the hole. It also doesn’t stop because physics say so, but instead keeps going until it burns out.
Dangerous Golf has a lot going for it. And not just the inherent fun that comes from smashing bottles of Champaign. The game has dozens and dozens of varied courses in a good mix of locations, and while many are the same rooms as other courses, just restocked with different breakable and expensive items, this doesn’t make them feel redundant as much as it does like a variation on an interesting theme.
There are also, in every room of Dangerous Golf, semi-hidden items that are worth a lot of money, or can cause chain reactions of destruction. For instance, crushing all the oranges in the kitchen pays off nicely, while hitting a paint can will splatter red paint on things that don’t need to be painted.
Dangerous Golf also mixes things up in some intriguing ways. For instance, you may start a course on which the hole is hidden until after you’ve destroyed some stuff, while others have you trying to finish before the clock runs out. There’s even one course that has no items to smash, just lots of holes with different metallic-colored flags, and you’re limited to three balls, though you only lose a ball if, on a shot, you don’t get it into a hole. Which was trickier than you might expect.
While Dangerous Golf is a fun, clever, and often puzzling game once you’ve figured it out, the operative phrase in that assessment is “once you’ve figured it out.” The game doesn’t have a tutorial of any kind, and while it’s not difficult to deduce what to do and how to do it, it’s still odd, and a little annoying, that they didn’t include some kind of instruction aside from a picture of the controller layout. This lack of instruction not only comes up when you’re learning how to play basic courses, though, but also when you get to such outliers as the one I mentioned earlier that was just a bunch of holes.
There are also times in Dangerous Golf when the camera is not your friend. When the ball is up against a wall, it’s sometimes hard to see what it’s aimed at. But then, what game with a third-person perspective doesn’t have camera issues.
There’s also an issue with Dangerous Golf that actually isn’t an issue for me, but it might be for some people. All of your shots are done by pressing the left stick forward, either on its own for a regular shot, or in conjunction with the triggers for when you want a light shot (left trigger) or a heavy one (right trigger). But while some might want more of a challenge when it comes to hitting the ball, I actually prefer this arcade-esque approach, and think it makes this more fun than if it had a more involved swing mechanic like such golf games as EA Sports Rory McIlroy PGA Tour or Mario Golf World Tour.
Similarly, some might lament that the ball still goes into the hole if you use the heavy shot when putting, since, in real life, the ball would go flying past the hole. And that the physics aren’t a 100% accurate. Or that some breakable items would be sturdier, or cheaper, in real life. But none of this bothered me either because I appreciate the arcade-ness of this game, and recognize that it’s more about the mayhem than the realism. Plus I was always terrible at putting.
Even with these issues and disagreements in its approach, Dangerous Golf is still a fun and clever physics-based arcade game. Sure, it’s decidedly more for fans of mayhem and destruction than the sweet sport that is golf. Or the even sweeter sport that is mini golf. But if you’re in the mood to destroy some Champaign bottles, and don’t have money to burn, this game will satisfying that itch nicely.