Mini Putt Park review
Mini Putt Park is a Facebook game from Majesco. It’s one of the four games highlighted recently on both Facebook and Zynga.com as part of Zynga’s latest round of publisher partnerships. The game itself has been available since May and peaked in early-to-mid-August with 170,000 MAU and 10,000 DAU, but has been showing something of a downward trend since then. The partnership with Zynga has the potential to bring the game to a wider audience and give it a “second wind.”
Mini Putt Park has two discrete components to its minigolf-themed gameplay — firstly, the player is introduced to park-building through a rather hasty tutorial and is then invited to start playing some pre-built courses. Both parts of the game make use of an isometric perspective and some functional but rather unremarkable cartoon-style graphics reminiscent of Zynga’s in-house titles.
The park-building aspect of the game allows players to purchase various components using one of the game’s three currencies — soft, hard and social. Players can design as intricate a course as their virtual finances allow but must successfully complete it in order to allow their friends to challenge it. Players subsequently gain income from their completed holes, with more soft currency coming in the more friends who play it. Players are encouraged to check in on the game regularly, as the accumulated bonuses from each hole only last for 48 hours before expiring, meaning regular logins are essential to keep earning at a good rate.
When it comes to actually playing the minigolf site of the game — whether it’s on a player’s own course, a friend’s course or one of the predefined courses provided with the game — controls are kept very simple. Using the mouse, the player can set direction and power according to how far the cursor is from their putter. Clicking the mouse strikes the ball with these parameters, and play then continues until the player successfully sinks the ball or they give up. Prizes, including soft currency and experience, are awarded for successfully completing holes.
The game monetizes in several ways. Two energy systems are used — normal energy is used to play predefined courses, while “Frenergy” is used to play friends’ courses. Both are replenished on every level up, and these come relatively thick and fast in the early stages of the game, meaning that at least initially, the player gets to enjoy the game for a while without hitting a paywall. Alongside energy, certain premium course-designing items are only available with hard currency — these tend to be more elaborate, distinctive and often animated decorations and obstacles that are seen throughout the predefined levels. The preset levels are therefore being quite effectively used as a means for players to “try out” these various items and their effects before choosing to commit their own hard currency.
In terms of social features, players are able to visit their friends’ courses to look at them (which provides small bonuses, including social currency, each day) and play them. It’s also possible to share various gifts with friends who are playing the game, ranging from energy boosters to decorative items. Alongside this, each hole played also carries its own leaderboard tracking who completed it in the least strokes and in the shortest amount of time. If the player does not have enough friends to fill the leaderboard, a random selection of their Facebook friends are chosen and the opportunity to invite them is given.
Mini Putt Park is quite a fun game that brings to mind Maxis’ 1996 PC game SimGolf and Sid Meier’s subsequent reimagining of the same game in 2002. The course-building interface is simple to understand and use and the early game is generous enough with rewards to allow players to build at least a couple of decent holes. There’s considerable potential for players to express themselves through course design depending on how much they are willing to socialize and pay, with varying colors of fairways, a wide variety of themed obstacles and a number of special items. The minigolf gameplay itself is very simplistic, but works competently enough and ensures that the game is accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Ultimately it’s a fun game that will appeal to several distinct groups of players — those who like to build, those who like simple sports games and those who enjoy physics puzzlers.
A fun, multi-faceted game that deserves to enjoy more success than it has seen to date.