Flick Golf is an entertaining bonanza of golf that places more emphasis on fun and playability than it does on being an authentic simulation. This is certainly no comprehensively accurate Tiger Woods title, and you won’t be staring at your device trying to determine whether the rugged St Andrews par three requires a 4-iron or a sand wedge.
No, Flick Golf is all about hitting a hole-in-one, first time. In the Caribbean. From a yacht. If that sounds like your cup of tea… read on.
It’s More Like “Happy Gilmore”…
Flick Golf is all about fantastically audacious shots that drop nicely into the hole with a delicious and rewarding “plop” sound. The game will take you all over the world in a succession of holes that are each challenging and well designed.
It all starts, however, on a basic training hole where the game teaches you the controls. It’s quite simple really: scroll your finger from side to side to adjust view, flick your finger over the ball and in the direction you want to shoot. Once the ball is airborne you have uncanny influence over its flight: simply add whatever spin you want by running your finger in the spin direction you desire. Fiendishly easy but tough to master.
What adds to the challenge is the wind-factor. Early courses start you on a comfortable zero miles per hour, but they soon crank up beyond 20 when you get to the trickier holes.
… Than “Tiger Woods”
The control you have over the ball, via spin, is a little over the top. It lets you change direction a few times, and even add some backspin afterwards if you need the ball to roll nicely backwards. This makes the gameplay style far more arcade than dedicated golf simulation, which may dissuade golf puritans. You simply drive the ball, then manipulate it into the hole; there is no putting, no sand wedges and no anxious slicing from an impossible bunker.
This control, however, is the crux of the game and what makes it so wonderfully playable. Even you if you drive completely wide, or get blown horribly off target by gusty winds, it’s not a lost cause – some furious spinning can still put the ball in the hole, or at least in a good scoring position.
Scoring in Flick Golf is easy to understand. Everything is essentially par 1: you get one shot only. Hitting a hole-in-one gets you a cool 1000 points. Outside that, there are zones you gain points from, which reduce in value as you get further from the hole. Really close gets you 500 points, then 400, 300 and the outer ring is 200 points. Each level gives you a target of points to unlock the next level and so on.
Naturally, levels are quite easy to complete early on, but then the target scores stack up and it becomes far more challenging. At the end of the hole, the game rewards you for use of spin, so you can add a few points here too. This is cool – especially if you have managed to drag your ball across the course to land a plum hole-in-one, as the game recognises that skill. Get successive holes-in-one and you get bonus points for this too!
Location, Location, Location
The game sends you all over the world to face all manner of different courses. Although none are based on real golf courses, they all reflect some typical national geographics. There’s ‘Still Water Lake’ and ‘Clearview Lodge’ in the United States, followed by the gorgeous ‘Turtle Cove’ in the Bahamas, ‘Stonebow Ridge’ in Scotland, the dusty ‘Coyote Point’ in the United States and finally ‘Shimiko Castle’ in Japan.
Each course has its own character, and each is gloriously rendered in sublime and impressive graphics. The visuals in the game are as impressive as you could expect from a decent Android device; bright colours, excellent environments and cool ball-effects are all deliciously portrayed. On one occasion I completely messed a shot up and ended in the ‘drink’, but even this is wonderfully expressed in the graphics of the game. You know a game’s good if you put aside your frustration to marvel at the beautiful backgrounds!
Everything about the graphics is stunning and smooth and buttery, although obviously it is a little too bright and colourful to be realistic. If you hope to see realistically miserable grey bunker sand on the Scottish course you might be disappointed. Think ‘arcade’ or the cosy brightness you get on Wii games and you’ll get the idea.
Flick Golf is a deliriously fun and addictive game that is immediately playable. This is not the Tiger Woods franchise so do not expect to see Nike Swooshes, extensive wardrobes and corporate sponsorship of every golf club manufacturer in the world. The game is all about creating a fun environment and compulsive gameplay. It’s golf, just not as we know it. Hit a glorious hole-in-one from an anchored yacht, fight against the wind in the Californian desert and try and avoid losing the ball in a lake – it’s pure arcade fun.
There are few games like this on the Android Market. Oh sure, there are a few golf games (and lots of ‘caddy’ apps which help you keep golf scores), but these are either 2D crazy golf bore-fests or poor Windows 95-era clones. Pretty ugly. There is a wonderful zombie/golf crossover title called “Zombie Golf Riot” where you have to hit a zombie’s head – using a chainsaw – as far as you can; while brilliantly silly, it’s never going to win Colin Montgomery’s endorsement. Ultimately then, nothing really challenges Flick Golf for beauty and pure playability. I’m sure readers will quickly tell me differently if I’ve missed a gem somehow!
While the game is instantly lovable, and well worth forking out for, it might ruffle the puritan feathers of hardcore golf nerds. Gameplay is a bit over-the-top and you only get one shot per hole, there’s little course authenticity or a choice of clubs. I did find the learning curve a bit steep too. Mid-way through, the target scores go quite high and you need to be scoring very highly every shot to progress. Good fun, but this spoils it a little as you seem to hit a wall. This aside, the game is bunkers of fun and colour: definitely check it out if you can.