THERE are two ways to write a golf game. The first is to spend every last ounce of programmer effort to produce a simulation that is as close to the real thing as the machine allows. This can produce some spectacular results. But for those who think that golf is about as much fun as Antarctic nude jogging, there's not a lot to recommend it.
The second is to take the basic idea - hitting a small ball towards a slightly larger hole - and just have fun with it. This is what Hole-In-One Miniature Golf does.
It should take anyone with half a brain and one finger about 10 seconds to get to grips with the mechanics of Hole-In-One. The playing screen is a view of the green from above. There's a small white rectangle where your ball is placed with an initial click on the mouse, and a small black hole into which that ball has to be propelled.
Once the ball has been placed, moving the mouse away draws a line. The length of the line shows the strength with which you'll hit the ball, it's direction indicates where the ball will go. Press the mouse button and the ball flies off hopefully to the end of the hole.
From such a simple basis, Digitek contrives to give a game with as much skill, subtlety and frustration as anything with a plot 10 yards long. For starters, the holes can have bumps and dips, like a normal golf course, represented by different shards of green. Some care has been taken to get the normal laws of physics right. With skill and judgement the ball can bounce and curve as it would in real life. Practice or a lucky shot can get the hole-in-
Half-way through the tutorial course you get the impression that Digitek is admirably perverse. Slowly, features are added - sand, water, moving barriers - that make the shots more tricky and the hole-in-
The skill with which each new obstacle is introduced in the tutorial is finely judged. Towards the end, each new hole generates a feeling of "But that's impossible" followed by the pleasurable sensation of spotting a shot that might just work.
There are lots of courses, each with a theme illustrated by pictures and the appropriate fiendishly testing gadgets littering the holes. The game comes with two course discs - the simple ones are merely designed to be tricky, the complex ones start to fiddle with the laws of gravity, logic and eventually your sanity. But each new torture is solvable.
This, combined with the very simple user interface, makes Hole-In-