Frustrating as the real thing

Zany golf logo Amiga Computing Excellence Award

AH, the great British holiday. Two weeks of well remembered pleasures and traditional delights at Dludgethorpe-on-the-Mire. From the moment you're evicted from Stalag Seaview by dear old Mrs Muldoon, the tattoos on her forearms glinting in the cold light of dawn, until the hour when footsore and weary you trudge back to face a welcoming plate of Salmonella Salad, your day is played out according to a time honoured ritual.

Long hours spent sheltering from gale force winds and driving rain, huddled for warmth around a cup of lukewarm Bovril; bone shaking rides on an evil tempered donkey around the Sludgethorpe Municipal Car Park; and above all else the activity without which no holiday would be complete, the countless rounds of crazy golf. No other British institution is capable of dividing families with such ruthless efficiency.

Dad, with his 15 handicap and a putting stroke as demonstrated by Sandy Faldo in Golf Monthly, spends 40 minutes trying to force his ball up a pig's bottom while six-year-old Johnny, with a style that Sean Kerly would be proud of, whips round the course in two under par.
Memories are made of this.

Now you can recapture the thrills and excitement in the comfort of your own home. Zany Golf is as entertaining, offbeat and totally frustrating as the real thing - and more. From the opening screen with its superb graphics and music it is apparent that this game is a bit special.

The basic mechanics are simple. A round of Zany Golf consists of nine holes and can be played by one to four players. The mouse is your putter and is used to spot the cursor on top of the ball.

Holding down the left mouse button reveals an X under the cursor. Moving the mouse in any direction with the button held down produces a dotted white line that indicates the distance and angle of the putt.

The further you pull the mouse back, the harder your putt. Release the mouse button to play the shots.

Each hole must be completed within a specified number of shots, otherwise you're out for the rest of the round. The first hole is a par two, although you are allowed up to five putts. Any unused putts are added to the par for the following hole to determine your stroke allowance there, and so on.

From time to time bonus shots are available either for completing a hole within a time limit or for hitting a fairy with your ball. A score card can be viewed to keep track of your progress.

The holes themselves are colourful, superbly detailed and have been designed with a good deal of imagination and wit. Windmill, the first hole, is the one that is closes in design to those found in real life.

You putt up a slope and past the mill's revolving blades in order to send your ball on to the lower half of the hole. From here on in it gets progressively more surreal.

On the second hole, Burger Bar, you have to putt round a U-shaped track by bouncing your ball off a large bottle of ketchup into a hole protected by a giant, bouncing quarter-pounder.

Ant Hill finds you trying to knock your ball into a hole that is situated on the plateau of a pyramid shaped hill. Just to make it more difficult, the hole is moving.

Energy, the final hole, is a lulu, a sombre mechanistic landscape, criss-crossed by energy beams waiting to blast your ball into oblivion.

Merely completing a round needs a lot of skill and a liberal helping of luck - to do so under par is another matter. One slight nigglette is that it takes an age to load each hole, probably inevitable given the level of complexity involved.

The game can be loaded from a hard disc, so those of you lucky enough to own one - both of you - shouldn't experience this problem.

Zany Golf is not a game that you would want to play continuously for a week. Neither is the real thing, they are both best enjoyed in short bursts at frequent intervals. There can be few better games available at the moment.

Zany golf logo

Electronic Arts
Price: £24.95

I don't think that I have ever seen anything quite as silly as Zany Golf (except perhaps a Brosette). The latest release for the Amiga from Electronic Arts is a crazy golf simulator with a difference - it is playable.

The introduction screen is an impressive 3D scrolling picture of a nasty looking course, this is backed by a jaunty piece of music and, from this screen, you can choose between the number of players, between one and four.

Each hole is 3D and features normal, everyday obstacles to negotiate, like bouncing hamburger, giant ketchup bottles and magic carpets. The mouse is used to control your putter and also to scroll the screen about. Many holes feature special puzzles that must be worked out before progress can be made. Hints on how to do so can be found on the preview screen.

The graphics are excellent all the way through, shading and perspective are used to a standard that I have not seen since Marble Madness. Each hole has a different piece of music which partly makes up for the lack of spot effects.

With many other golf games you simply putt around the whole course trying to better your previous best - not so with Zany Golf. You start with three spare shots and each time you play a stroke you lose one of them. Should you get to the next hole the par for it is added onto your spare shots counter.

It is also possible to gain extra shots by squashing fairies with the ball or completing a hole quickly on a bonus timer level. This system means that you are going to need a lot of practice to see all the holes, which makes the game all the more playable. Overall, it is rough.

Zany Golf is an outstanding piece of software. Graphics, sound and presentation are all excellent. You will never want to play another game of clock golf on a miserable day of the seaside again.

Zany golf logo

Firebird, Amiga £24.99

Look across the page a minute. Notice the type of game being reviewed? It's a crazy golf simulation! Isn't that a coincidence, what with this being a crazy golf sim as well? The difference is that in Mini Golf most of the play takes place on flat, two dimensional greens, whereas in Zany Golf all the action takes place in a multi-directional scrolling, forced perspective environment.

Each hole has its own theme - castles, windmills, fans, etc - and requires special tactics to complete. You only have a certain amount of strokes for each hole and there are bonus strokes for, say, touching the fairy with your ball or completing a time bonus.

Kati If you notice, I say in the review of that other golf game that I really like mini golf. Zany Golf captures much more of the feel of a real game of crazy golf, with its strange buildings, mental tunes and weird bonus systems. The only thing that concerns me is that there are only nine holes to play, which means that once you've completed them you may get a bit bored. Having said that, I've been playing it for a while and I'm still not bored. Check it out!
Maff Of the two golf games that came in this month I played the Gremlin product first. I thought that they'd interpreted the game as well as could be expected, so I had quite a pleasant surprise when I loaded Zany Golf. The strange intro sequence and intermission screens are very pretty and have a sort of Disney-cum-Alice in Wonderland feel about them. The whole thing is very nutty and incredibly playable; easily as much fun as the real thing. I've no hesitation about recommending this little gem.