A future where robots take the place of humans on the sporting field is inevitable. With worries over the long term effects of concussion and an ever growing wagering market built around professional sports, incorruptible, indestructible robots are clearly the future of the sporting landscape. From there, it isn’t much of a leap to giant robots playing sport; after all, making big things is what Australians do best.
While half of developer No Goblin may be from the land down under, the studio turned to Japan for inspiration with 100ft Robot Golf — specifically, Evangelion and giant mechs doing battle with each other and the urban (and not so urban) environments that make up their courses. No Goblin has gone all out here, complementing the mega sized golfing destruction with a badly dubbed, 90s anime storyline of love, betrayal, redemption and five dogs in robots merging into one giant dog robot.
Admittedly, most of the anime references and homages go right by me like a sliced three iron but there were still plenty of laughs to be found in the 100ft Robot Golf soap opera and on the Links themselves. The latter is provided by the internet’s own McElroy brothers, who strike true on most of their gags as a three man commentary team, complete with the subdued whisper of golfing analysts, scared of distracting the 100ft giant mech as they putt.
The action provides its own share of laughs; this is not a game to be taken or that takes itself seriously. The golf is basic; you have a driver, wedge, and putter, with some finer controls for spin and shot trajectory (high, mid or low). Each robot has a unique swing mechanic ranging from traditional two and three click metres to analogue trigger feathering. It is easy to put the ball near where you want it to go though the environment is far more perilous than a standard, human sized golf course as you hit around mountains, oceans, skyscrapers, asteroids and lava beds, some of which can be removed from your path with a quick smack of the club (or eye laser).
Gameplay is focused more on who gets the ball in the hole first rather than who does it the most efficiently. To that end you can interfere with other players, blocking their shots and knocking them about, though you can’t completely troll another player to the point where they can’t even hit the ball. The best interference is the most subtle, knocking an asteroid or building into the way of a shot or flying into the balls path as it crosses an ocean. You can also interfere with your own shots to your benefit and detriment. In low gravity environments like the moon or under the sea you can often beat your slowly floating ball to the green, useful to redirect a misjudged shot and infuriating when it happens accidentally. I managed to kick some putts thousands of feet from the hole as I impatiently followed them to the cup thanks to some physics wonkiness.
100ft Robot Golf is not a game to be taken seriously because to do so would expose its limitations and flaws. This is a knockabout party game of golf, best played with a mild competitive spirit rather than an Esports level of seriousness. The prominence of online leaderboards seems a curious choice in a game where the inevitable leader will be somebody who glitches their way through a quick run to the pin. I managed to hit my ball into unrecoverable situations, crippling when it happened 25 holes into the 36 hole speedrun challenge.
Multiplayer is where medium to long term enjoyment will come from 100ft Robot Golf. The single player AI is laughable, that it is represented in game as running on Amiga 1000s complete with AmigaDOS overlays is fitting because they are as dumb as a post and slow as a wet winter weekend at St Andrews. The campaign lasts for all of a few hours, though some life can be squeezed out of trying to get gold medals in time, strokes and score on each level. This is one of those games to pull out with friends and a few drinks, to laugh at how silly it all is and enjoy a few rounds of sabotaging each other’s game before moving on to something with a bit more meat on the bones.
I can’t help but feel 100ft Robot Golf leaves something on the table. For golf courses built on the moon or ocean bed the challenges provided are rather standard; thread the needle on this drive, avoid these comically large sand traps and don’t hit behind these buildings. There is some scope for advanced play in being able to interfere with your own shots, but when not played in a multiplayer setting 100ft Robot Golf felt like regular golf with added traversal and a bit of jank thrown in. You can forgive some of the low budget stylings as design choices, particularly some of the truly terrible voice acting performances, but getting balls stuck or sending them into orbit with little prodding is less acceptable.
100ft Robot Golf is also a PlayStation VR launch game and works well enough in that environment. Sideways movement is done in chunks to prevent you blowing them and succeeds, I didn’t suffer any motion sickness while playing despite the first person view. The game is very playable from a first person perspective but VR is by no means essential, I did most of my play outside the confines of the headset.
100ft Robot Golf is a good laugh and a solid game. If an anime spoof is up your alley you owe it to yourself to check this one out, as does anybody looking for a good multiplayer bash for nights when mates are around having a few beers. The golf may be simple but there is fun to be had, just don’t expect much staying power for solo sessions.
100ft Robot Golf was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4 and PlayStation VR, as provided by the developer.
Review: 100ft Robot Golf