Exclusively to the Nintendo Switch, House of Golf from UK Indie Studio Atomicom, brings fast-paced arcade-style mini golf to the hybrid handheld.
House of Golf takes the obstacle heavy mini-golf format and merges it with common household objects in a variety of room-themed locations for fast-paced pad swapping for one to six players. Players take turns at making shots against a par score for each hole and try to get it down in as few shots as possible.
Each course is made up of nine holes and, depending on the difficulty setting, the course dynamics can change fairly dramatically from the lower to higher difficulties. Waltzing through the easy holes around the house is more like a training session for both the controls and ball dynamics since the jump between easy and medium is quite large. House of Golf adds jumps, drops, tunnels and other obstacles made up of books, rulers, boxes and other things you are likely to find within each locale. In the kitchen? Expect to hit spoons and cereal boxes as you navigate the courses.
In order to promote the pick-up-and-play arcade approach, the controls are fairly intuitive and consist of an aim, ball reset and power meter. Aiming is done via the left and right analog sticks on the Joy-Con although only the left stick offers a camera height option. Leaving the ball stationary on any turn eventually shifts to a preview camera which rotates around the course at a distance, it would have been nice to have a course preview function especially at higher levels as the angles and shots needed to meet par can be challenging with items in the way.
Aiming is fairly straightforward and players are assisted at lower difficulties with a ghost line showing both the direction and the effect of their shot. More complex shots into items strewn across the course also show on the ghost line, so if you want to try to jump something, or bounce off of it, then its helps a lot. In addition to the par score, each hole has a hidden gold coin which is usually placed off the beaten track forcing you to improvise with your shots and is at the heart of the replay factor in single player mode. Progression opens up a few unlockable items to customise each player in the form of new golf ball styles and skins although all the courses are open from the get go, at least on easy.
House of Golf runs well on both docked and handheld modes with no slowdown or artifacts showing in either mode. Graphically, the textures are clean with easily distinguishable materials for the course components which in turn each have a differing effect on the ball. It’s not the most taxing game for the Switch but it doesn’t need to be since the beauty is in its simplicity, course design and ball dynamics. Amid the constant background music, the game has a gold swing effect for each shot taken and collision sounds for each obstacle although there’s nothing fancy over and above this.
The easier holes can quickly be mastered quickly to get that ever elusive “Hole in One” or with a tidy up shot for a Birdie/Eagle/Albatross but that doesn’t translate into the harder difficulties. Without careful planning and a selection of physics based trick shots you are very unlikely to get the desired outcome. Single player games on tournament take around 10-15 mins to complete and with 3-4 players a single tournament can take the best part of 45 minutes. Single holes can be selected from the menu for a practice, and mastery of these is what’s going to drive you to come back to the House of Golf again and again.
House of Golf’s format suits the Nintendo Switch down to a tee (see what I did there), it’s fun, quick and straight to the point whilst being extremely easy to pick up but frustratingly difficult to master. Enjoyed alone or with up to six players for party.
House of Golf is available on Nintendo Switch.