Surely, the whole golf game spectrum has been covered on iPhone and iPod touch by now, hasn’t it?
Gameloft has the light-hearted, fantastical swinger all wrapped up with the Let’s Golf! series, while EA has nailed the more sober golf sim in Tiger Woods PGA Tour. Meanwhile, you can take your pick when it comes to crazy golf games.
Ah, but what about the side-on-retro-styled-casual-golf-game-that-controls-a-bit-like-Worms? Yep, got one of those too, as it happens. It’s called Super Stickman Golf.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on the free iPhone game scene (shameless plug alert: check out the Trawler Report every Friday afternoon) you no doubt have come across this game’s predecessor, Stick Golf. It's an entertainingly odd take on golf that establishes most of the elements found here.
Super Stickman Golf isn’t exactly a sequel, though – it recycles too much of the first game’s content for that. What it does is refine the original game, add a bunch of new courses and gameplay enhancements, as well as a splendid chip tune soundtrack. Think of Super Stickman Golf as the final release to Stick Golf’s beta.
As with any game of golf, the objective is to sink your ball into the hole. In this side-on version, you set the trajectory and power of your shot by sliding a finger back from the ball. It’s easy to judge the correct power thanks to a power bar.
While two thirds of the game's courses are lifted straight from the original, playing through them is rather different this time. That’s largely the result of the game’s biggest new inclusion: super club power-ups.
As you play through each nine-hole course, you unlock new one-off abilities to be activated as needed. You only get seven per course, so deciding which power-up to use and when brings a new layer of strategy to the game.
The power-ups themselves range from the default and ever-useful Mulligan, which grants you an extra attempt at a shot, to Sticky Balls and Air Brakes, which are self-explanatory.
Par for the course
The other major addition - eight new Super Courses - really ramps up the difficulty level.
The old courses might be a lot easier now with a revised shot gauge and bonus power-ups to help you, not to mention the total removal of the wind factor, but it’s evident that such recalibrations have occurred with the increased challenge of these new courses in mind.
Still, there’s no escaping the fact that the number of new courses is a little miserly. Whether you view this as a sequel or not, you're being charged money for predominantly old content.
Developer Noodlecake Games has promised new courses and online multiplayer in future updates, which should extend Super Stickman Golf's value considerably. For now, it's a bit of a shame it didn't ship with at least the same number of new courses as old.
It’s a shame, too, that there aren’t more ways to play each course. While you can take a practice swing before each hole, it would have been nice to be able to tackle any single hole you’ve unlocked in isolation.
As it is, if you want to have a go at the ninth hole of any course, you must hack through the first eight to get to it. In a game designed for portable play, that’s a bit of a silly omission.
It’s little oversights little this, along with the lack of original content, that stops Super Stickman Golf from being a truly excellent addition to the genre. As it is, it’s a fine update to a very good freebie, and one that you can buy with confidence even with its free predecessor still on the market.