This latest entry in the Super Stickman Golf series provides further adventures in a world where everyone’s given up smacking tiny balls about meticulously tended fairways and greens. Stickman golfers have a much tougher time of it, contending with gravity wells, massive saw blades, teleporters, and ball-destroying lasers — all things we at Stuff hope they’ll add to the next Ryder Cup to liven things up a bit.
As ever, the action is shown side-on. You set the direction and power of each shot, and your little golfer thwacks the ball. Meet par or better on each nine-hole course to move on to the next in the tour. Get enough XP (essentially by being brilliant) and you level up, unlocking further courses. And if you dislike playing solo, you can venture online, trying your luck at turn-by-turn multiplayer or a demented speed-run race mode.
In a spin
Veterans may think this sounds an awful lot like Super Stickman Golf 2 — and they’d have a point. But there are new bits, like spinning the ball after hitting it. Early on, this is great when you fluff a shot to the green — a quick spin helpfully urges the ball towards the hole. Eventually, though, you tackle courses where belting a ball to the ceiling and frantically spinning it is the only way to avoid the horror of a penalty shot.
The other big change is a card system, which sits alongside the game’s ‘bux’ currency, and is the way you acquire power-ups. This could have been a nasty wallet-gouger, but a single play through all but the final course left us with almost half of the game’s cards, including several powers (such as sticky balls and air brakes), golfer styles, hats (saw blade shrinker, a halo for eradicating penalties), and ball trails.
Stickman to what you know
There are smaller differences, too. Course design has matured, with clever ideas that force you to think - not least when dealing with spinning lasers and gravity fields. It's all just a bit visually unexciting, though, sticking largely to the tried and tested. A late stage set in a zero-gravity ‘Space Base’ is the exception, playing with the series mechanics in an amusing, original manner, but it’s a one-off. There’s also a sense that ideas limited to the race mode could have worked elsewhere — why can’t single players have access to a blazing time-attack through nine holes, or try their hand at a Flappy Golf tour?
Still, grumbles shouldn’t detract from the most important aspect of Super Stickman Golf 3: that it’s a lot of fun. Newcomers will have a ball exploring this strange sporting world, while old hands will enjoy new courses, hazards and controls. And kudos, too, regarding the business model: you get an awful lot for free, but pay US$2.99 for a premium upgrade and you’ll find ads banished, five card packs to tear open, and access to downloadable courses. There are only five of those right now, but if Super Stickman Golf 2 is anything to go by, there’ll be loads more before long.