Tuesday, May 17, 2011

iOS Game: Super Stickman Golf

I've been a "moderate" video gamer for the past 5 or six years. When I first moved to New York in 2006, I decided to purchase a Nintendo DS Lite (the white one, which was all that was available at the time), and it wasn't long before a bunch of my friends at work got NDSes of their own, and the next thing I knew, we were playing multi-player Mario Kart DS, having loads of fun.

The Mario Kart DS thing reminded me of just how much I prefer multi-player video gaming, specifically in real-time, where everyone is in the same room (at least within earshot of one another). The game that introduced me to this concept (back in the mid-90s) was Red Planet (and also BattleTech), from the (now defunct) Virtual World Entertainment Group. But that's a story for another time. Another Nintendo-specific example of this would be Super Bomberman for the SNES (with 4 or 5 players). Seriously fun times.

Recently I was turned onto an iOS game called Super Stickman Golf. I was pleasantly surprised with the overall cleanliness and simplicity of the graphic design of the game, and after playing it for about five minutes, I could tell that this was going to be a good game. Granted, I do have a soft spot for games of this nature (the old Apple II game "Howitzer" comes to mind, along with Pocket Tanks, too), so it wasn't that hard of a sell.

The game has been seeing a lot of press lately (I've seen it mentioned a lot over the past couple of weeks), so I'm not going to get too into the basics. What I will get into is the one aspect of the game that takes it over the top, putting into "this is a great game" territory - multiplayer.

Now, we all know that golf - in both its traditional form, and its derivative forms (miniature golf/putt-putt, and even disc golf) - is a game that is made a bit more fun and challenging when playing against others. If you and your two pals go out to play together, the object of the game is to complete the course as efficiently as possible. Whoever makes it to the end with the fewest strokes wins. Easy.

You might think that in a video game version of golf, this same set of rules would be used for a multiplayer game. But this is where it gets interesting - Super Stickman Golf is set up as a race. Whoever sinks the ball in the hole first wins that round. When playing with (the maximum) four players, there's a point-based ranking system, where the first place winner gets 3 points, second place gets 2 points, etc. Which means that the scores can actually swing pretty heavily from round to round.

Having only had the opportunity to play a four player game once (for about 10 minutes), I can already tell that this game scratches the same itch that Mario Kart and the other real-time multiplayer games scratched. There's just something about being able to see and hear the excitement and frustration of your opponents while you are all playing together.

I know that there are other games out there that use the internet, along with a headset and/or a camera, but I don't think it's the same. I'm trying to think of non-video games that are in the same category, but the only thing that's coming to me is Hungry Hungry Hippos. Man, that was a loud fucking game.

Anyway, if any of you folks who are reading this decide to splurge on this game - which, I might add, works on both iPad AND iPhone, so if you own both, you can actually have a little two-player action for the price of one - and you happen to be set up with Apple's Game Center - hit me up. My Game Center user ID is "-dg".

I'm telling you, it's tons-o-fun.


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