Developer: Spatula Interactive Ltd.
Price: $2 / £2
Size: 45.5 MB
Platform: iPhone & iPad
The App Store is so saturated with golf games that developers have started playing with the format. Golf Blitz is essentially a multiplayer racing game, while Golf Peaks is a card-based puzzler.
Astro Golf doesn’t offer anything quite so wild or wacky. But by simply setting the 2D golf action in outer space and applying basic planetary physics, it takes on a unique flavor of its own.
The goal of hitting a ball into a hole in as few tries as possible is a familiar one, as is the means of doing so. You touch anywhere on the screen to bring up an aiming arrow on the ball. Drag in the opposite direction to increase your power, and up or down to alter the angle. Release to hit.
It’s here that the golf game handbook stops being helpful. You see, you’re not playing on a single piece of the landscape here. Rather, you’re chipping the ball between planetoids in the void of space.
Each celestial body has its own gravitational pull that will affect the flight path of the ball. A tiny moon will exert a modest pull, while a giant planet will drastically alter your flight path.
Playing each hole, then, becomes a game of judging the planetary alignment and altering your shot accordingly. You might even send your shot way out into the inky black in the knowledge that it’ll slingshot around that hulking planet and onto the flag-bearing moon on the other side.
Or at least, that’s the ideal scenario. In practice, it’s often pretty difficult to know exactly what path the ball is going to take. The physics never quite feel that precise or predictable beyond a rough estimate.
Add in the fact that the initial Zen Mode doesn’t penalize you for taking excess shots, and Astro Golf soon starts to feel more like a stress-relieving toy app than a game. Just blasting through a couple of holes is a pleasant way to zone out, but it’s completely inconsequential and lacking incentives.
Thank goodness for Hard Mode, then. Rather than an elite mode for serious players, it’s where Astro Golf really comes into its own. Every hole in the game can be completed in just one shot, and Hard Mode requires you to do so. You can take unlimited attempts, but always from the same tee-off point.
It’s here that you really start exploring the possibilities of those planetary physics, fine-tuning your approach to score a hole in one.
In its default state, there really isn’t much point paying to access the full game of Astro Golf beyond its free 20-level run. Explore its alternative mode, however, and you’ll find a stellar spin on the fusty old game of golf.