Golf, even of the crazy variety, is a pursuit that for many is less about fun or leisure and more about a test of character. Indeed, Winston Churchill once famously proclaimed that golf is "a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into a even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose."
And so, many's the golfer that has felt themselves tumbling down the rabbit hole in a corkscrew of frustration, stuck in a topsy turvy world where the understood rules of physics no longer apply, and where the grass, the trees and the birds seem to jeer and mock with a wit and vitality they don't usually posses.
Which makes the setting for Mini Golf Magic all the more apt, being that it is spiked with more than a tinge of Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Alice In Wonderland. Fortunately, despite the subject material, Mini Golf Magic 3D does not play like a golf induced introspective psychedelic nightmare and has all the makings of another great addition to Digital Chocolate's impressive canon.
The game starts with four madcap characters materializing in a pastel-shaded fantasy world where they are greeted by a waistcoat-wearing rabbit called Lord Bugsworth. Before long, a mini golf competition starts with the prize being the chance to return to the real world. Each character has a unique strength and you must play as each in turn to best Lord Bugsworth and get home. As you progress, Mr Bugsworth introduces new obstacles; there are fans that blow your ball, magnets that pull it, portals that teleport it, sand pits that slow it and ice sheets that speed it up.
As always, the aim of the game is to sink the ball in as few shots as possible and preferably in fewer shots than Lord Bugsworth. There are also various point rewards dotted about the holes which can tip the scores in your favor if you tie with Mr Bugsworth or sometimes even if you take one more shot than him. If ever you manage a hole in one (a feat that on some of the earlier courses feels all too easy) you are rewarded with one of nine bonus rounds in which there is no hole, just a pinball machine-like bounty of bonus point icons to aim for to boost your score.
That's the gameplay in a nutshell, and it works more than competently. The controls are simple with no unnecessary complications. Just aim your shot, decide how much power to give it and hope that your implicit subconscious understanding of geometry and physics don't fail you. The progression is also worthy of praise and Mini Golf Magic 3D feels less like a cartoon sports title and more like a story driven puzzle game, helped in no small part by its subtle but obvious homage to Alice in Wonderland.
The real star of the show here, however, is the 3D graphics engine. The characters are all more detailed than you would expect of a 3D mobile game and the backgrounds are similarly filled with quirky animated distractions. Although you can control it, at times the camera does feels a tad stubborn, but never so much as to make lining up your shot impossible.
As is typical for a Digital Chocolate release, the front-end is as polished as the rest of the game and Mini Golf Magic 3D really shines as a compelling contender in the reasonably popular mobile mini golf genre. Well worth tumbling down the rabbit hole for, then.