Golf games have been a part of my life for decades. Golf is my Dad’s favourite sport, so I got my first golf game very young. We’d spend hours together playing World Masters Golf on the SNES, which was eventually replaced by the absolute classic of Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64. I initially took to the tee as it was a surefire way to play video games with a family member, but eventually I realised I just love golf games. Since playing with others was what got me into the genre, Golf With Your Friends immediately had my attention.
If there’s one thing I like more than Golf, it’s Crazy Golf. It’s the only version of the sport I enjoy in person, because nothing beats hitting a ball through a windmill. Golf With Your Friends is as crazy as golf gets, with huge ramps, tunnels and deadly traps. The aim is simple (at least in classic mode) just get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. As you might expect it’s pure putting, but don’t let that get in the way of sending your ball soaring into the distance.
Hitting the ball is as simple as choosing your shot power and direction, and pressing the shot button. There’s no timing your button presses to get the shot on target, and all the skill required to win is in choosing your shot wisely. This is far easier said than done though, as even short putts require precise aim to sink.
If you decide that the traditional ball in the hole set up isn’t for you, Golf With Your Friends has a bunch of ridiculous options for you to experiment with. Basketball mode replaces the holes with nets, and gives you a jump button so you can turn a Par 3 into a 3-pointer. I found it much trickier to shoot hoops, but it’s a fun way to switch things up. Even more outlandish is the hockey mode, in which you hit a Puck past a cardboard cutout goalie at the end of each hole. There’s no better feeling than watching your rival bounce of the keeper repeatedly.
The final game mode is party, which combines crazy golf and Mario Kart. It turns out this is a match made in heaven, and collecting powerups to disrupt the other players is incredibly satisfying. Your items carry over between holes, so you can save your sticky honey for the ideal place to trap your opponents, or use a double jump to skip over a tough stage.
Outside of these game modes, you can also customise a huge list of rules to play however you want to. Some of these options are functional preferences, like maximum shots before you’re forced to give up a hole or a time limit. You can also change the bounce and gravity, altering how you’ll have to tackle the ramps and drops of the courses. For fans of a less predictable experience, you can even randomise the size and shape of the ball for each hole. This is definitely the first golf game where I’ve hit an extra large acorn through a land of confectionery.
Each of Golf With Your Friends‘ 11 (at the time of writing) courses are themed to perfection. There’s a pirate setting, a space station and even a Worms theme on one of the courses. Each of these backdrops has its own set of obstacles to maneuver around, from black holes to concrete donkeys. There’s also a greyed-out stage, promising a future Escapists themed level for prison escape fans. With 18 holes on each course, it’ll take a long time to master all of them to ensure victory against rivals locally and online.
Each of the game modes and courses can be played against up to 11 others online, for maximum mayhem. There’s no waiting for your shot here, as it’s a free for all as everyone tries to launch their way to the finish. Watching balls flying everywhere as players try to traverse a tricky gap never ceases to be amusing, and with collision turned on adds an extra obstacle to the proceedings. When playing with others, there’s a set of quick phrases you can use to communicate during your match. It feels nice to politely praise others as you play, but more than anything I found myself using the “Whoops” chat command.
If you want to impress your friends or randoms as you play, you can also customise your ball in a number ways. There are ball toppers, trails and lift rafts that you unlock every time you complete a round of 18 (win or lose). I like to think the floating gold rubber duck above my ball intimidated a lot of players I matched up with. The only issue I had during my time with Golf with your Friends, was the pretty intense difficulty. The Par scores for the holes seem almost unattainable on a lot of the holes, and it can be pretty disheartening to finish a course over 10 shots over Par on one of your better runs.
Golf With Your Friends brings all the fun of crazy golf into the video game world, with a few added powerups for some extra chaos. The only thing more ridiculous than the antics on display, are the amount of customisation options available. With 11 huge courses to compete for the lowest score on, you could play Golf with your Friends every day this year and still find new ways to play.
A great variety of interesting courses
Easy to learn, difficult to master gameplay
A ton of game modes and customisation options
The Par for most holes is too difficult to attain