I really like the game of golf. That we’re talking about Everybody’s Golf, from Mario Golf or from Golf Story, these games have the gift of relaxing me, like a real game of golf on the field (without the sunburns and the clods of earth that leave with my ball).
Unfortunately for me, WHAT THE GOLF? isn’t really a golf game.
Fortunately for me, this is a devilishly brilliant tribute to a genre that I refine even more, humor-absurd games.
Here’s how, disguised as a golf game, WHAT THE GOLF? is actually a tribute to Katamari Damacy and WarioWare of this world.
Make a game funny, a difficult mission (but not impossible)
My main job in life is to write humor. Having worked on TV and radio shows as well as with several comedians, I know that provoking laughter is a difficult mission.
And it’s even more difficult in a game. Certainly, some games manage to make us breathe out a little stronger air from the nose, but laugh out loud? It’s more rare.
It’s that humor is a matter of timing. If you listen to an issue by Louis-José Houde, it is likely that you will laugh a few times. Now have your grandmother read the exact same text, and it’s likely that you won’t get the same result.
Why? Because what matters is not only what the comedian tells, but how he tells it. A short pause between two sentences, an intonation placed on a certain word, a change in flow can make all the difference.
And in a video game, it’s extremely difficult to control this timing, because the player is in control of the pace at which the game advances. If the player looks at his cell phone between two lines, it’s too late. You may have written the funniest line of all time, the player will surely not laugh.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because WHAT THE GOLF? managed to make me laugh, incorporating the element of surprise into the game.
When the game starts, you are asked to send your golf ball to the hole. We are presented with a familiar context: a game of golf, as we have seen dozens.
But suddenly, after a few holes, you arrive to hit the ball, and something unexpected happens; it’s not the ball that goes up in the air, but our golfer.
The tone is set; we will surprise you in every corner, and make you laugh.
A tribute to the fun games that came before
Another thing stands out as we move forward in WHAT THE GOLF?: the developers, Triband, are fans of video games who have played everything.
References and tributes are everywhere. After a few minutes of playing, I couldn’t help but think that something in the mind of this title reminded me of one of my favorite games of all time, Katamari Damacy… just before I am offered a level where everything sticks to my ball and where I have to pick up as many elements as possible to train and a katamari.
I will not steal all the punches from you, because that would be a shame, but I have found obvious tributes to a lot of games, Super Mario at Elastomania (I can’t be the only one who remembersElastomania!?!).
WHAT THE GOLF? is not a perfect game. We would have appreciated a longer lifespan (5 to 10 hours will be enough to complete the course), and the level of difficulty is sometimes poorly calibrated (I think of the infamous last level of crabs, for those who have already played).
But WHAT THE GOLF? is also a fun, funny game, brimming with good ideas, and one that will appeal to those who are passionate about the history of video games.
With that, I go back to play.
Note: A code for review purposes has been provided to us by the publisher.