I’d like to take you back to a little event in December 2018 called the Kinda Funny Games Showcase. Presented by Rooster Teeth’s Kinda Funny the weekend after the hallowed Video Game Awards, this Showcase revealed tons of new game announcements, from console to PC to mobile. One such mobile title was Super Stickman presents Golf Blitz. Remember this one?
Yeah, it’s definitely strange. Anyway, I followed their instructions and signed up for the beta, not even knowing it was a mobile title. Then about a week ago I got an email granting me access, and I’ve been hooked ever since. So I reached out to the company, Noodlecake Studios, and asked if I could write a little something to praise their new game. They said yes, and while I must state that this game is still in beta and is subject to changes, the unfinished product I’m currently playing is a blast already.
Golf Blitz is a multiplayer online golf game, which I must admit is not very unique to the world of mobile games. Some mobile golf games are in first-person, requiring the use of different meters for speed and accuracy when aiming for a faraway hole. Others are more arcadey, with side-scrolling landscapes and a pull-and-release method of putting. Golf Blitz falls more in the arcade territory, with the same pull-to-aim shooting method, but instead of a fixed landscape to navigate, Blitz‘s levels tend to take a more…vertical approach. You see, levels in Golf Blitz can get quite chaotic, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Depending on where your character starts on each map, the hole may be placed above you, below you, or hundreds of feet away from you (not that there’s any real way to measure that). Levels change every round, and depending on which tour – or level bracket – you’re playing on, the environment may be full of winding desert shortcuts that lead straight to the hole or covered in a strange pink goo that makes getting around even more difficult. Not to mention the sand traps and water hazards sprinkled about every course. The levels in Golf Blitz are so varied that they never get old, and learning their shortcuts and secrets adds another layer of depth to the gameplay.
The best part of Golf Blitz, however, is actually golfing. As said before, shooting is done by pulling back on a meter to adjust speed, aiming the curvature of the ball, and releasing. This sounds simple enough, but the simultaneous danger and joy of Golf Blitz is the other opponents’ presence. Everyone shoots their first shot from the same exact spot, which makes timing so important. If you shoot at the same time as another golfer, balls will fly in every direction and your perfectly accurate shot was for naught. Furthermore, if their ball lands in front of you anywhere on the course, good luck aiming properly because chances are they’ll be in your way. It’s a minor inconvenience, that because I sometimes found myself waiting on another player to take their turn so my ball wouldn’t fly off course, only to have them win before me. But most of the time this multiplayer experience added to the fun. I vividly remember my first four-player game (the maximum amount) and how insanely difficult it was to get out of one cramped starting point. Insanely difficult, but super fun. We all had a laugh about it after the round, thanks to the text and emoji buttons in the loading lobby. It is unfortunate that there aren’t more options to choose from, though, as all text is pre-made by Noodlecake, probably to keep harassment to a minimum. However, if they’re listening, I would love a “boo” or a thumbs down emoji in the future!
Gameplay in Golf Blitz isn’t just about how good you are with the basic pull-back meter. Power-up balls add to the experience in clever ways and make for a hectic golf game on every round. From the beginning, players are given a purple accuracy ball that can help pinpoint where the ball will land, a green speedball that shoots faster than the average shot, and an orange fireball that shoots faster and more accurately for longer distances. Once I got to level two, I was given a pink sticky ball which can stick to any surface, and there are eight more balls to unlock with each level. Balls can even be leveled up on their own to receive increased speed, power, and accuracy. Power-ups in Golf Blitz cannot be spammed excessively, however, which is where the skill comes in. Power-ups are granted by a warm-up timer, with each ball having its own allotted second wait time before it becomes available. The timer begins at the start of each round, meaning if you know the hole is far away, you can use a fireball on your first shot, but you’ll have to sacrifice precious shooting time by waiting five seconds for the fireball to unlock. It’s a super captivating feature that takes some time to get used to and even more time to master, but once you learn how to utilize power-ups in the most efficient way, you’ll become a Golf Blitz pro in no time.
You’re probably wondering how the experience system works in a golf game that requires leveling up. Fortunately, this is fairly easy to do. Leveling is assisted through card packs, which can be earned in a variety of ways. Let’s get this out of the way first, though: yes, Golf Blitz has microtransactions. Before you groan, hear me out. In-app purchases can help you buy more card packs or money to level up. These are not required and are easily earned through gameplay, so the microtransactions are only there should you want more help. Now as I was saying, card packs are distributed like crazy in Golf Blitz, with one being earned automatically every two hours, another being given out once you reach a certain amount of stars (stars are earned by reaching the hole first), and I kid you not, I have received a card pack every time I’ve picked up my phone to play. I don’t know if these are earned by playing a certain amount of rounds, or if they are given out at random, but long story short: card packs are easily attainable. Which is a good thing, because in these packs you can receive cards to help level up your power-ups, gain new hats and costumes for your stick man, and money that is used to initiate a level-up, granting you more experience to level up your character and continue the vicious, addictive cycle that has already hooked its claws into me.
The best thing about Golf Blitz is that it’s entirely free. No in-app purchases are required, no content is locked behind a paywall, and it perfectly straddles the line between mindless entertainment and ruthless skill. The more I play, the less I feel as though this is a time-waster game and the more it becomes a “just one more level” type of ordeal. With all that being said, I would gladly pay for the base game if it weren’t free, as the wealth of content here is insane. There are even leaderboards and leagues you can join, which makes me hope for seasons in the future with team events and private matches. My gripes with the Golf Blitz beta are few and far between. I’d love the ability to pause, though its always-online functionality would make that difficult. Maybe the ability to call a timeout? Sometimes a man just has to pee and he doesn’t want to play golf while…incapacitated. I’d also love the ability to open more than one card pack every two hours, or at the very least give me the option to pay and skip the wait time. It’s annoying having to stop and wait two whole hours once you’ve maxed out your card pack slots (only four). Also, it would be fun to have more than four players in the future, or two decide how many online people you want to play with (1v1 matches would be cool). All in all, though, the beta has impressed me more than I ever would have imagined. It’s populated by enough people to keep it interesting (except when I try to play at 2 AM, but maybe I should be asleep…), and the gameplay is never dull. I can’t wait for the world to experience this super fun little mobile game, and I hope you all have as much fun with it as I have been.
Update (2/8/19): Last weekend, the Golf Blitz beta received an update, which added a couple new features that both improved and worsened the gameplay. Thankfully, this is a beta and some of these disappointing features may be removed in the finished product. My least favorite change has to be the updated cooldown timer, which winds down in a comically rapid fashion, and makes the wait time between strokes less than 2 seconds. This causes rounds to feel rushed and it adds a more arcadey feel to the game, rather than the strategy I praised before. On the bright side, all beta players were advanced to level 10, which let us try out even more courses, new hazards (including a suspension field that shoots golf balls in a specified direction), and new ball power-ups: including a grenade that blows away adjacent balls and a ball that can float in midair. There’s a lot to look forward to at level 10 and beyond, but the rate of unlocking new outfits and power-ups – in card packs – becomes incredibly taxing. For fans of the game, this arduous process will be an enjoyable affair, but unless you’re instantly hooked, I can see the fun ultimately wearing off. For now, though, there is still a lot of fun to be had in the Golf Blitz beta. With an updated emoji keyboard in the matchmaking lobby, players tend to welcome each other with a friendly thumbs up. While I’d love the ability to report those rather nasty players or to shout out “curses!” upon a devastating loss, I’ll have to make do with what I’m given for now. Golf Blitz continues to pique my interest even throughout its ever-changing beta state, and I’m excited for what the future holds.