This review was originally created in August 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
One of the hallmarks of virtual reality gaming versus traditional video gaming is its ability to more realistically translate real-world activities to a digital format. For instance, instead of using a game controller to move an on-screen avatar, with virtual reality, you’re the one directly performing the actions.
Of course, even with the power of virtual reality, certain real-world activities have to be abstracted more than others. Fortunately, miniature golf, aka mini golf, is not one of them. Cloudlands: VR Minigolf presents the perfect illustration of this, directly mapping the virtual putter to a single Vive controller. This allows you to play the game exactly how you would in real life, simply swinging your (virtual) club to hit the ball in the direction, and with the force, that you want.
As you might expect for a game of this type, this is a standing, room-scale experience. You bend over a little to position yourself over the ball, then you swing the Vive controller like you would a regular putter. There’s definitely a challenge here trying to navigate the course elements, which include standard mini golf fare like moving bridges, spinners, and tunnels. Fortunately, control is surprisingly accurate, and, despite the curious lack of haptic feedback when striking the ball, you really do feel like there’s a putter in your hand. Just like in the real game, if the ball does something unexpected, it’s most likely your fault rather than a quirk of the game.
A complete 18 hole golf course spanning summer, autumn, and winter themes is included and can be played in portions or at random, but there’s also a course editor. This allows you to build, share, and play user-created holes. Even as you’re designing your course, you can jump in any time to try it out. This is a powerful feature that greatly extends the life of a game of this type.
The graphics are bright and detailed, and the sound, which includes birds chirping and background music, is appropriate to both the environment and your in-game actions. And just like choosing the perfect putter size and ball color, the audio is configurable, right down to turning off the background music.
Adding to the feature-list is local and online multiplayer. While the turn-based, local multiplayer is impractical because of the need to constantly take off and put on the one headset, network-based play works well. There’s even a spectator mode so others can watch what’s happening. Perhaps even more intriguing, however, is the ability for cross-platform play with users of the mobile version of Cloudlands: VR Minigolf. This game is nothing if not loaded with features.
Mini golf is one of those activities that just about anyone can play and have fun with. While not perfect, Cloudlands: VR Minigolf does an amazing overall job of translating that experience to virtual reality. If you’ve ever had fun with mini golf, you’ll definitely have fun with this feature-rich and accessible digital interpretation of it. It’s the type of game that makes you want to go back and try and top the leaderboards for a particular hole, no matter how many times it might take.
Score: 5 out of 5 stars.
Cloudlands: VR Minigolf is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.
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