Saturday, June 7, 2008


Just when I thought that the KDE games had all become beautiful, playable, tiny little slices of cuteness, along comes Kolf to ruin everything. This brings to mind the first few KDE games I played, in that it's ugly as sin, a little bit broken, and not very much fun to play.

Which is a shame, because its basic underlying mechanics are fun - everyone likes minigolf - and when they work, it's very satisfying. Hitting a shot just right, and watching it play the course, rolling down hills and through blockers and catching enough speed in just the right way to bounce of a wall into the cup feels great in real life, and they mostly managed to capture that feeling with Kolf.

Maybe 1 hole in 10, at least, managed to capture that feeling. If you look at the screenshot, you'll see that I was woefully inept my first time through. I played with it enough to be consistently hitting par, at least, and all the frustrations I had with it the first time through were still with me.

The biggest problem is the graphics, namely the fact that they don't actually work very well whenever there's movement involved. Pieces of the course, like like sliding barricades, get all glitchy and drop in and out; most annoying is the fact that sliding barricades tend to disappear at the least opportune time, i.e. whenever they're actually barricading anything. You can't see them to judge when you should make your shot.

The other big problem with the graphics is that, backgrounds occasionally aside, they look like they were done in MS Paint. And not like they were done in MS Paint by someone who was trying to a good job. Slapdash and crappy is the only way to describe the look of this game.

This is doubly a shame because miniature golf is so associated with great picturesque setups. 'Over the drawbridge, through the castle, under the windmill and up the ramp,' becomes 'Around the brown jagged lines, through the brown jagged lines, over the yellow splotch, into the jagged-looking circle, past the crappy looking numbers.' A game that should be cute and engaging is a hideous fucking C.H.U.D. of a creature.

The controls seem a bit imprecise. You hold down the left mouse button to determine how hard you want to hit the ball, after lining up the pointer thing in the direction you want to hit it, which is fine, but it seemed like hitting the ball the same hardness, in the same direction, on level ground, three times in a row resulted in three wildly variant end-points for the ball.

It would be nice if the impact indicator would oscillate back and forth between the hardest you can hit it and the softest; instead it just goes until it hits the point where you'd hit it as hard as you possibly can and automatically shoots - sending your ball careening wildly about the course and more often than not leaving you somewhere right close to where you started.

On the plus side, it does have local multiplayer support. And it has a lot of different courses. On the downside, everything else about the game, including the fact that it doesn't have network multiplayer support. Thank god there's no sound; if it were on par with the graphics, it would sound something like a 4 year-old playing on one of those cheap toy keyboards. A really inept 4 year-old.

Screw this game. Don't bother. You can probably find a better looking, better playing, mini-golf game for five bucks in a bargain bin at the software/grocery store of your choice. It's ugly, it's broken, it's not any fun, and it sucks. If the project isn't abandoned, it might be great in a couple of versions, as the skeleton of a fun game is here, but at the moment, it's just a skeleton. They need to put some meat on these bones.

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