Ahh, dogs. The superior pet (don’t @ me), man’s best friend, protector of young ones and homes and all-round general ‘good boy’. They may not be the internet’s chosen pet – a quick scientific study shows the number of Google results has cats just ahead of dogs at 3,010,000,000 vs. 2,820,000,000 – but they are my chosen pet.
This time around, we have a game involving dogs hitting the links and going golfing. With hockey pucks. Because they ate all the golfballs.
Dog Gone Golfing is a 2D golf game with an endless supply of golf holes. Players set the speed and direction of their shot and choose their shot type and try and get their puck in the hole within the allotted shot allowance. Every hole is a Par 3 – or Pawr for this game – meaning all holes should be completed in three shots or less.
An endless supply of golf holes, because it uses procedural generation to create these holes. It sounds exciting but after only a small amount you see that they’re all very similar. Depending on the world the hole is generated on there may be additional obstacles but the only other thing that changes is the terrain between the tee and the hole, the distance between the two is constant.
From the beginning of the first screen, players a given a very busy main menu. All the various game modes are listed down the screen but then there are icons to the right to choose which dog you play as, or which hockey puck to use, amongst others. Each of these icons is also assigned its’ own button rather than being on a list. Both L3 and R3 also bring up sub-menus from here and are highlighted below; R3 gives a breakdown of what each part of the menu does which is the first time I’ve seen anything like this. Completely necessary for this game and menu though, it’s confusing without.
The main menu does highlight the decent amount of game modes: Practice mode is at the top of the list and easily where you should start first. World Tour is the main mode and where you will spend the bulk of your time with this game
World Tour features course after course in a set format that must be played in order. Complete a round and regardless of score, you move onto the next one which is just as well because, with 160 courses, the last thing you want to do is repeat one. Every eight holes you move onto the next environment, which is just long enough that you get bored with the same location and welcome a change of appearance.
Completing holes in this mode grants stars and money based on your performance. Stars allow your dog to level up but doesn’t offer any actual benefits, it is purely arbitrary. Coins, however, can be spent on new pucks, but these unlock at random. Pay the gopher the required amount – that increases the more you play – and they will unlock a random hockey puck for you to use. Again, these offer no benefits but with shapes like a bone, skull, carrot, watermelon and a Game Boy Advance of all things, they look better than the standard one you start with.
Other modes include Shot Streaker which ramps up the pressure by only giving you a limited number of shots to complete a hole, and then scores you by how many holes you can complete under these conditions. Another, Endless Journey, is just that; an infinite number of holes that unlike the World Tour, introduces new environments frequently rather than having to complete eight full rounds of 18 holes each time before moving on to the next area.
Finally, we have Dog Golf Arena which brings with it multiplayer. No online capabilities but you can play locally or if you fancy, against varying difficulties of CPU opponents. You can tailor the match to how you like as well, being able to tweak the number of holes, wind on or off or whether or not asteroids fall from the sky as well. Seriously though, turn the asteroids off: even if you hit a perfect first shot to within an inch from the hole an asteroid can quickly wipe out all that work. Local multiplayer is good fun but much like the rest of the game, it only takes one or two matches and you’ve seen everything this game has to offer.
In keeping with the 2D view, the graphics have a retro feel to them as well. A simple and pleasing aesthetic but nothing too spectacular.
There are 27 trophies in total, but the real difficulty comes from how long you can stick this game out for. 21 of those are for completing the career mode which as mentioned before contains 160 ‘different’ courses. So, it becomes a lengthy completion rather than a tricky one. Other trophies are for hitting milestones with holes in one – or as the game calls them ‘howls in one’ – shooting a round of golf with less than 40 shots and earning 1000 stars overall. Interestingly too, there are no silver trophies.
Dog Gone Golfing is a game that’s fun in small doses, or at least with a friend to play against. Even with multiple modes the gameplay is identical between them all so there is little variation. The games try to elongate the time by adding a variety of pucks or the unnecessarily long career mode, but you will find yourself longing for the end not long after starting, and if you’re a trophy completionist, it might be worth not starting at all.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*