What is it?
Stick Golf HD is a simple-to-play puzzle loosely based on Golf and published by Noodlecake Games. This is the iPad version, available for a 59p download from the App store.
How to play
The objective of the game is to get the ball in the hole after negotiating the hazards of a course. This is achieved by making the little stick man hit the golf ball with his big club thing. The angle of delivery is set by pressing the left or right or buttons to change the directional arrow. Pressing the Go button to start the power meter then pressing it again to stop at the required power sets the ball on its way.
If this was real golf, my ball would now be whizzing off in any direction except forwards and in the process, knocking out the 86 year-old club captain on his retirement dinner. Hiding in the bushes until the police have gone is highly recommended.
Stick Golf HD harks back to the good old days of video games and is reminiscent of an old game (I forget which platform) where players take turns to fire a tank at each other, setting the angle of trajectory and power of shot. It's a tried and tested mechanic, perhaps most famously put to use by the Worms series of games.
So, while the gaming mechanic is not exactly original, where Noodlecake Games score highly is in the sheer charm of its implementation. Graphics do not a good game make and here that adage is proved correct. The 2-dimensional side-on is simple but unobtrusive allowing the player to concentrate on the puzzle ahead. The little golfer man is nicely animated and his balls behave according to physics, bouncing convincingly and flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Hit the ball hard enough and it turns into a kind of flame-powered turbo ball.
There is no storyline. There's no gravel-throated announcer saying, "In a world, where Golf has gone mad, one man stands alone in the face of adversity. This Summer, see Johnny Depp in ... Stick Golf HD". It's about beating your scores. There are no cut-scenes either. Did I mention it's about posting the lowest score possible?
For 59 pence, there are a LOT of courses to play, with 21 courses each with 9 holes ranging from the absurdly simple to the absurdly absurd. There's a nice learning curve with the first few holes of the first course almost impossible NOT to get holes-in-one (or is it hole-in-ones? Or holes-in-ones? I never can tell). Later levels really ramp up the difficulty and some are stupidly frustrating. Obviously, the sideways view offers a lot of latitude in course design and trying to get your ball in a small pipe surrounded by water is quite often a case of trial and error. Noodlecake are not bringing a faithful emulation of Golf, it's much more puzzle than any kind of sporting replication.
But, there are skills to be learnt and it's very addictive. Rather like say, Angry Birds, where a simple premise is executed to perfection, so it is with Stick Golf. Unlocking all the courses is an achievement in itself but beating your own scores is where the real challenge lies. And there's none of that tedious exercise or pushing a golf trolley around a field nor do you have to listen to the golf 'bores' in the club-house. Here's a question for you: What is it about Golf (the real-life 'sport' that is, not this game) that attracts an entirely unattractive species of person? *Cough* Wan *cough* kers *cough*.
The association with Golf will put people off, which it nearly did myself. Don't, as it really is a very loose assocation. While the terminology is there, eagles, birdies and what have you, it's still very much a puzzle game.
Some of the levels (holes) are ridiculous it has to be said. I dare say Captain Cholmondely Arse-Biscuit would have something to say about them at the golf club annual board meeting (when he's recovered from that misfortuitous head injury that is).
Stick Golf HD is a terrific, simple little game for the iPad and at 59 pence for a 33mb download, it's an absolute bargain. It's addictive and frustrating but a lot of fun all the same. It has longevity built in and provides a neat little fix of puzzling mayhem. Recommended. Now, have the boys in blue gone yet?
Noodlecake Games changed the name of Stick Golf HD to Stickman Golf HD in May 2011. To all intents and purposes it's *exactly* the same game.