Death Golf Review

A nice, simple game of golf. If bear traps were littered across the green and mad ducks were attacking you between shots.

Death Golf isn’t your grandfather’s golf. It isn’t your version of golf, either, not unless you regularly deal with cannon fire and have to hop on the backs of alligators to cross water traps. That just makes it all the more entertaining, though, and with several themed stages and upgradeable equipment to make your golfing/attacking more powerful, this game’s got quite a bit going for it. Golf might just be exciting again!

Just like normal, non-deadly golf, Death Golf takes place across a number of courses, putting a golf ball until you eventually sink it in the hole. Here, though, just about everything between point A and point B can and probably will kill you, from ducks to bear traps to perilous drops off the Earth. Anything for a thrill, right? At its core Death Golf is a golf game, but it introduces some rudimentary arcade elements to make jump distance and golf club damage just as important as swing power or how far the ball bounces after each hit.

Tap and drag the screen to choose a direction and stroke power for each shot, then tap the “swing” icon to send it flying. Be sure to take into account wind and terrain, as the ball will bounce and roll further depending on where it lands. Once the ball comes to rest, the real fight begins. Tap the screen to take control of your golfer, moving him around the stage by holding your finger anywhere on the map. The hapless guy struts wherever you point, automatically leaping over short gaps but mindlessly stepping into traps that might be in the way. Weave through the obstacles and reach the golf ball to take your next swing, keeping in mind that each course has a par limit you must stay under.

As if traps, dangerous jumps, and par scores weren’t enough to worry about, Death Golf is filled with wandering enemies. The meter at the top of the screen times you between shots, offering a tantalizing combo bonus if you take your next swing before it empties. If an enemy runs into you, though, you’ll have to pick up your club and start fighting. Most enemies go down with just a few hits, leaving coins and the occasional power-up behind. If they kill you it sets you back several steps, costing precious time that could be spent earning that valuable combo bonus.

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When you’re feeling spendy, head over to the in-game store to use some of those coins you plucked from the carcasses of defeated enemies. You can buy upgraded clubs that deal extra damage to enemies, get some new shoes to boost your walking speed, or find some better pants to help you jump higher (why else would golf pants look so ridiculous?). You can even get new golf balls to decrease bounce, or indulge in a few power-ups to give you temporary boosts to jump, speed, and combo time. If everything’s a bit too rich for your blood, you can also use in-app purchases to get more coins on the spot. After all, you’re a big fancy golfer now. Gotta flaunt your cash for everyone on the green to see, right?

Death Golf comes across as a little wonky at first. The controls aren’t terribly precise, and the ball physics seem loose at best. It can be downright frustrating trying to make some of the jumps required to cross parts of a stage, making you wonder if the action portion of the game should have been included in the first place. But you eventually get used to the dodgy moves of your golfer, and when later stages require tricky bank shots and timed jumps, you’ll have mastered the art of short shots and swiped leaps. There’s a learning curve, and the game really doesn’t get interesting until a dozen or so levels in, so be patient and know that the best bits are right around the corner.

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Despite its shaky start and less-than-precise controls, Death Golf manages to turn itself into an entertaining game. Simple on most fronts and without many frills to contribute to the wow-factor, it’s still an interesting experience that blends something ordinary (golf) with something fascinating (jumping over alligators) to produce a game that’s several steps outside the norm.

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