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The game of golf as we know it has been around for something like 562 years. To the bystander or even casual player, not much has really changed about the game. I even called my dad, a more-than-casual player to check. Our conversation went like this (lightly edited for brevity):
“Hey Dad, I’m writing a piece about golf and I have a question. Have the rules of the game changed in a meaningful way since you started playing?”
“The rules are the rules. They haven’t changed.”
So. I think it’s safe to say that golf is mostly the same-old golf it’s always been. The question is, has the game grown too stale to inspire any hope for change?
To be fair, lots of people have offered solutions, iterating on the core getting-a-ball-into-a-hole mechanics with wacky obstacle courses, RPG mechanics, and other innovations. But Salman Shurie, Stuffed Wombat, and Gaziter boldly posit a new variation: “Golf is boring so we added guns.”
In Gungolf, the club is removed the club from the equation and replaced it with…a gun. Instead of swinging your way to make par, you shoot. And it’s fun as hell.
For each level, you are assigned one of three guns—a pistol, an SMG, or a shotgun—each equipped with a limited amount of ammo. Using the momentum of your shots, you propel yourself towards the hole. Stuck on a level? You can move forward or backward and play any of the 21 available stages, some of which include environmental challenges like spikes, water, and springs.
My personal favorite was the SMG. It felt like my golf ball was attached to a nearly depleted jetpack that had just enough juice left to get me to the hole. My moves had to be controlled, otherwise I risked flying off in the wrong direction. The pistol, however, allowed me to make quick corrections to safely sink my ball. Contrast this with the shotgun, sporting limited ammo, which required me to take my time and perfect each slingshotting move.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the golf games I’ve enjoyed over the past few years (Golf Story, Infinite Minigolf, Golf With Your Friends), it’s that the fundamentals of the sport are solid enough that getting creative with them often pays off. The goal is simple: get the ball across a terrain into the hole. The ways in which a developer can interpret this goal are endless: What does the ball look like? Is it even a ball? What do we consider to be obstacles? And in Gungolf’s case, how do you even get the ball to move?
What I’m trying to say is more golf games please—and, don’t worry if you forget your clubs.