If you’ve ever visited friends or family in Cape Town, there are probably a whole list of things the locals will try to get you to do. From cage diving, to hiking up Skeleton Gorge to even spending a lazy afternoon in Kirstenbosch Gardens. Now, if your friends (or foes) are true Capetonians, they’ll insist you buy a gatsby and with a full belly, make your way to Green Point for some “Putt Putt” (mini Golf).
As of writing, it should cost you about R20. If you’re like me and convinced that you’re allergic to the sun (“curse you rays of sunshine”), there is an alternative. You could spend R20 at the PlayStation Store, and buy Four Door Lemon’s latest Augmented Reality (AR) play title, Table Mini Golf Putts – for the PlayStation Vita.
Table Mini Golf Putts is exactly what you’d expect from a mini Golf game. It comes with two fantasy-themed courses (a horror and a pirate-y one), with a total of 18 holes shared between the two. You can either play through each of the courses in free play mode (which is perfect to get a feel for the game) or try your putter at the extremely challenging Elimination mode. The Elimination mode pits you against 3 AI players, in an elimination battle for the crown. For an AR mini-title, Table Mini Golf Putts comes with a healthy set of features (from an online leaderboard, trophy-support, a player ranking system to even Amateur and Pro versions of the courses and holes). Although, for those demanding a more classic golfing experience, it’s not a Tiger Woods golfing title. Instead, this tiny morsel is pure arcade-action.
While augmented reality and the AR Play cards bring an undeniable wow-factor to the Vita, it actually runs counter to my desire of merely being a “lazy gamer”. Let me explain. It’s not difficult to set-up a session of Table Mini Golf Putts. All it really requires is a flat surface (a table or even the floor will suffice), the required AR Play card, your PS Vita and a copy of the game. The Vita does all the rest, but it’s not an experience that you can call “lounging friendly”.
If you’re looking forward to a “quick play”, while relaxing feet up on the sofa, Table Mini Golf Putts is going to throw a spanner into your ambitions for a slacker’s evening. The one thing I love about hand-held gaming consoles is that you can lie down comfortably on your bed, or on the sofa and play for hours. Augmented reality games, on the other hand, are not passive. They require you to move yourself into position, or physically use your console to zoom into areas. In essence, your PS Vita becomes a window into an alternate universe, and there have been times where I felt like Walter Bishop, from Fringe, as I gazed into another realm.
The problem is that it takes work, it wants you to find the ideal vantage point to place your next shot, or to aim your next attempt at the hole. Sure, you can “cheat” and merely move the AR Play card, but it’s not really conducive to merely vegetating on the couch with a hand-held in your hands. If I could rate this game with only a few words, it would be “My poor neck… my poor back”.
I’ll admit, Four Door Lemon’s title isn’t half-bad, and the cost is peanuts.
For as little as R20, you’re essentially getting a fully functional, and surprisingly challenging mini golf game. The only real problem is that the AR feature is a little hit and miss, and far too gimmicky for its own good. In addition, the title is geared towards future DLC releases. As of writing, there is already one additional course pack, Toyland Course Pack available for about R10 on the PlayStation Store. While the cost is low, a third course pack would have upped the value of this game immensely.