King of Clubs
Developer: Oxygen
Publisher: Oxygen
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-4
Words By:

King of Clubs is a strange one, what appears to be a light-hearted, humorous game that for me soon became a tough challenge of my timing, judgement and ultimately patience. A game that combines traditional crazy golf type play with the challenge of finding new ways to complete each hole with as few shots as possible is hardly a new idea – this type of game is rife on the internet and one recently was a considerable hit on the Xbox 360’s Marketplace. So what can King of Clubs offer in the way of new ideas and innovation?

Well initially you’ll think absolutely nothing. A clunky, old-fashioned “2-button press” power bar control method (that moves too fast for accurate judgement of short putts), and a few different game modes doesn’t exactly inspire (unless hitting gophers floats your boat?). Fortunately you can set the power of the shot then ‘hold’ it for 5 seconds or cancel the shot, this is vital in timing some of the more complex obstacles. Continued play will unlock different clubs (several more putters and a chipping iron) and new balls that allow more delicate putts, extra powerful or bouncy putts, curved putts and even lofted shots. Amazingly enough the game even allows you to buy “free” balls, that don’t actually count, so yes, theoretically if you go around and earn enough money you could buy enough free balls to go round in 0… Yes: zero, zilch, nothing, zip, nil, nought, nada! Whilst at first I thought this was a cool idea that would allow you to negate a single bad shot on each hole (like a ‘Mulligan’ only better), it was not long after the point of unlocking these balls that their potential to ruin the entire game hit smack in the face – the fact that no matter how good a shot I hit or final score I made, I could do better just by rounding up cash (you earn money just for completing a hole or it’s spread around the courses as well) and kitting myself out with a crate full of “Free” balls and going round in nothing. What a load of balls! I know the idea of having a series of course records that read ‘0’ might appeal to some weirdoes out there, but surely it’s hardly in the spirit of… well ANY game really, but maybe that’s just me. A good idea that should have been limited to one a hole, or even better, one per round.

Anyway, if you love this type of game then KoC is a budget title, so it won’t bust your wallet, and features 90 holes (although some are tweaked versions of earlier holes and you’ll have to play the Career mode to unlock them all), plus a further six “bonus” holes spread across five themes; Prehistoric, Egyptian, Medieval, Hawaiian Tiki and Sci-Fi. These would certainly keep you occupied for a while, but as to whether the gameplay’ll keep you interested long enough to see them all is another matter. The PS2 version also features an exclusive single player mode called Gopher Hunt. The object is to eliminate the gophers by driving the ball through them. Each hole features a number of randomly placed gophers, and you have to eliminate them before they get to the flag. Yes, it’s just as thrilling as it sounds… Oh, and there are the Tournament, Speed Golf and Practice modes too.

So a few neat new ideas and some clever hole designs are let down by an ancient control method, some clunky graphics and a few holes that could have been designed by the Marquis de Sade, so torturous can they be – but of course it doesn’t matter because you can just use a load of free balls on those holes… My advice? Look out for Outlaw Golf 2 in the used section, it’s a Gamecell favourite and looks and plays better with every passing putting/golf game that doesn’t come close to its quality.

Best Bits

- Lots of holes
- 4 player mode
- Budget price
- More than just a putting game
Worst Bits

- Soon becomes repetitive
- “Free” balls are a stupid idea
- Aged control method
- Some truly infuriating obstacles
- It’s cheap, but not cheap enough

by: Jensen Buttons

Copyright © Gamecell 2007