The Nintendo Switch has become a bit of a sensation: stock issues are well documented, people in Japan are doing crazy things to get their hands on one of them, and the early list of games scheduled to release on it has been growing exponentially, with a game being announced almost every day. One such game is “Infinite Minigolf” from our friends at Zen Studios, the people responsible for the pinball tables our editor-in-chief loves so much on the Vita. How big of a splash does the studio make on their first Nintendo Switch release? Let’s find out.
Visually, the game is stunning. There are plenty of customization options for characters, and each has its own quirks and mannerisms. The stages are alive with motion and obstacles and powerups. From remote controlled trucks to skeletons laughing at you, there’s no shortage of stimuli coming your way. And it all really does look good. It runs quite well, too, both in portable and docked modes. We’ve experienced no real frame-drops to speak of, and load times are not bad at all.
The sound is good, but not great. I feel like they could have done a lot more with the music. I know it’s supposed to be a relaxed experience, but I yearn for some hard-rocking tunes in some areas to spice things up a bit. While sound effects are well placed and the background music is not bad, it just feels a little bland and a bit of a missed opportunity.
Where the game really does fall apart for me though, is the controls. It’s really, really hard for new players to control the game: too many things to take into consideration, and even at their least sensitive setting, the analog sticks can be very, very finicky. The camera is also weird, making it difficult to see the whole course and fidgeting around when trying to plan out a move.
But the worst part about the control scheme is the lack of single joy-con support. I mean, this is the whole reason the Switch is such an appealing concept: one console for at least two players. Considering the amount of stuff you need to do, there’s no reason why single joy-cons shouldn’t be supported. It would have made the experience so, so much better! Instead, you need to pass the joy-cons to whoever is up to putt, and considering the turns are so short, you spend about half the time just passing controllers around instead of playing. It completely breaks the rhythm of the game and makes it almost a chore to play a local multiplayer match.
On the other hand, online features are a joy. “Infinite Minigolf” comes with a course editor a-la-LittleBigPlanet, online upload and download of user-created content, the lot. And it’s awesome: the community has already created a few thousand (yes, THOUSAND) courses which you can download for free, even if you are (like me), unable to create even the simplest of courses. You can sort through the courses, find exactly what you want, and play it in no time at all. The only problem with this feature set (which is quite amazing), is that the title has been plagued by connection problems. While more apparent early on, during the first few days after the launch of the game, I still have some issues connecting to servers, and it ended up frustrating me more than a couple of times.
There is a tournament mode, too, with 3 “worlds” and each world having around 10 courses to play. This works well enough as a training ground for how the game works, but it’s clearly not the main draw of the game; that lays within the online features and local multiplayer modes.
As that’s the case, however, we must reach the sad conclusion that “Infinite Minigolf” doesn’t quite live up to its potential yet. The online features suffer from connection issues and the lack of single joy-con support has left many people (including myself and my fiancee) with the impression that this is an unfinished port that isn’t quite optimized for the Switch. And I say “yet” because I’ve seen Zen Studios, through their Twitter account, address these concerns users have been expressing, and saying that they are looking into fixing them in future updates (if and when that happens, I’ll revise this review). I hope so: “Infinite Minigolf” has the potential to be one hell of a fun party game. Sadly, the way it is right now, it just isn’t.