There are some game concepts that make you ask, "Why?" It could be something that puts a different spin on a classic genre, tries to create a new genre altogether or goes beyond description, but a game comes up every now and then that makes gamers ask why it was created in the first place. Some titles, like Katamari Damacy and Incredible Crisis, end up eliciting a great deal of enjoyment from the player. Others, like Kung Fu Rider, end up being implemented so poorly that no amount of novelty could help the player escape boredom. A few, like Noby Noby Boy, end up being so out there that players don't know what to make of them. Gummy Bears Minigolf takes something traditional (in this case, the sport of minigolf) and tries to add a spin by making you play as gummy bears. Sadly, the allure of playing as pieces of candy is wiped away when one sees the simplistic and shallow game that awaits.
Gummy Bears Minigolf features a few modes for single-player and multiplayer. Standard play gives you the chance to play through four different courses, each with three holes to conquer. Each course is littered with coins that can be used to buy new items for your golfer. While only one course is available from the beginning, reaching a cumulative par or below for all three holes in the course gives you access to the next course. Free play mode lets you golf in any of the unlocked courses with up to four golfers, yourself included.
If there's one thing that stands out the most in the previous paragraph, it would be the limited number of holes in the game. Three holes per course is very short, no matter how you look at it, and even with the requirement that you finish the course at par or lower, it won't take very long before you unlock all 12 courses. Further adding to the disappointment is the fact that the courses consist of nothing more than a putting green with inclines and bumps obstructing your path. Despite playing in lands filled with trees, toy soldiers and candy canes, nothing that differentiates minigolf from regular golf is included in each course. The lack of interesting obstacles in the field makes for some rather boring and mundane golf — something not usually associated with this offshoot of the popular sport.
Gummy Bears Minigolf's limits, as far as course number is concerned, can be rectified by the course builder mode. You can create your own courses that can be as long as nine holes, essentially making it much better than the game's provided courses. The course builder is easy to use, but it doesn't give you anything to make the courses more appealing than the pre-made ones. You'll still have to contend with using only boundaries, bumps and elevation when laying down each hole instead of peppering it with real obstacles or eye-catching objects.
The simplicity carries over to the golfer selection. Every golfer has exactly the same stats, so gummy bear color is the only real choice you have during character selection. As mentioned before, you can earn coins in each course, and those coins can be used to buy various customization parts in different categories. You can buy clothes, hats, putters and ball trail effects, but the purchased items don't really affect your game.
The golfing game featured in Wii Sports got players used to emulating golf swings with the Wii Remote. Instead of borrowing that mechanic, Gummy Bears Minigolf tries to employ a new one that is neither intuitive nor functional. After using the directional button to choose where to putt, players must hold down the A button, shake the Wiimote to build up power, and then release the A button to take a swing. If the player builds up too much power, he has to wait for the meter to drop down before building it up again to the desired level. The putting system is not only archaic but detrimental to the game, especially since powerful putts almost always lead to the ball flying out of bounds. With no other option to control a putt, it becomes the sole mechanic responsible for preventing players from beating courses under or at par. The only good thing that can be said for the mechanics is that you only need one Wiimote for a four-player game.
The sound in the game simply exists. The music elicits feelings of being in a magical land, but the short length of the looping track makes the music feel tiresome after a round or two. There isn't much in the way off effects, though the putting of the ball and drop sound fine. As for voices, the bears say nothing, and the claps and cheers from the crowd sound too generic to be noticeable.
Like the sound, the graphics don't try to be astounding. The backgrounds are colorful while the putting green isn't anything special to look at, aside from the checkerboard patterns. The animations look fine, and the particle effects are decent enough when the ball is in motion and when it sinks into the cup. One thing to note is the bears themselves. For something based on candy, they look like any cartoon bears you'd see anywhere else. If they looked more like the candy, complete with translucent bodies, it would at least be interesting to see. Alas, when you look at these bears, you forget that the game has any affiliation with the candy.
Gummy Bears Minigolf feels like a downloadable demo pressed onto a disc and sold as a finished retail game. The amount of available courses feels rather small, and while the course builder option tries to rectify that problem, the courses that you can create feel so limiting that you'll quickly lose the drive to create new courses. The graphics and sound are serviceable, but with a control scheme that feels inappropriate for the system, the fun is sapped away rather quickly. Even at a bargain price, there's no reason to grab this game over better golf games in the market.
More articles about Gummy Bears MiniGolf