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Golf On Mars – side-on golf game that’s out of this world

Is there life on Mars? Turns out, yes there is – and that means golf, too

Price: $3/£3
Version: 1.05
Size: 2 MB
Developer: Captain Games Inc.
Platform: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

Golf on Mars

Welcome to the future. It’s the year 2866, and Mars is 35% terraformed – into an absurdly gargantuan golf course with over 25 billion holes. Yes, you read that right: this course has a par of around 77 billion. Short of you unearthing an immortality app on your iPhone, you’re not going to be around for the 25,000 or so years required to complete Golf On Mars.

The game might strike you as pointless, then, but much like its predecessor, Desert Golfing, Golf On Mars is all about the experience – letting yourself go within the endless nature of it all. It’s essentially golf as ‘zen’ – an activity to pass the time, with no goal other than to just play and have fun.

The controls make the experience simple to get into. You drag to draw an arrow that defines your shot’s power and direction. You can optionally use a second finger to rotate a dial that applies spin. Let go and your ball sails into the air. Get it into the hole and your next target appears.

You’ll soon notice that the deeper you head into this side-on Martian Pebble Beach, the trickier your task becomes. The landscape shifts from merely being uneven to looking like an angry sculptor hacked into it with a massive cleaver. Hunks of metal, low-flying speed-sapping clouds, lakes of water, and sand traps bar your way. Massive pits lurk, too, ready to suck your ball into the abyss.

Sometimes you’ll overshoot the hole. But unlike in Desert Golfing, the screen carries on scrolling. If you’re fortunate, you’ll just have to shoot back a bit; but sometimes your ball will find a hitherto unseen slope it will trundle down – agonizingly slowly – leaving you with quite the trek back to the hole. This saps the game’s ‘zen’ credentials a bit – as do (extremely) rare holes that are literally impossible, because Golf On Mars’s algorithm (every player’s course is unique) has served up a sheer cliff on the red planet that your most powerful shot cannot beat.

There is at least a skip option after 25 fraught attempts. And, truth be told, none of the niggles impact too heavily on this game. Much like Desert Golfing, Golf On Mars is a modern-day gem: something that resembles a sports game, with a dash of Angry Birds, but that doesn’t care about a score, and that seeks to have you relax rather than rage – even if the odd hole will have you seeing red in more ways than one.