Review: Alice in Wonderland Puzzle Golf Adventures for iOS
Little has changed in the world of miniature golf sims since I first started playing them back on my…cripes, my Apple IIGS. I had two on that system: Gnarly Golf and Goofy Golf, I think they were called. One took a somewhat traditional approach to miniature golf, the second defied physics to focus more on the puzzle element. Those are still the two more popular routes for developers to take, and I’m not sure which I prefer.
I point this out because, as its name would imply, Alice in Wonderland Puzzle Golf Adventures leans heavily towards the physics defying puzzle element. This game is less about the quality of your putt-putt stroke and more about your ability to assess visual queues that guide your ball to the hole. Of course, you’re still aiming a “ball” and determining its speed, but Alice in Wonderland Puzzle Golf Adventures is quite forgiving in that regard.
In fact, there isn’t even really a ball here. Alice is the ball, curling up to roll towards the hole and pick up the necessary gems and such to unlock additional levels, GameCenter achievements and the like. To move her, you simply tap Alice and drag in the opposite direction from which you want the ball to move. The further you pull, the harder the stroke. Aiming is easy, and some elements even light up to indicate you’ll hit them if you’re close enough.
Two things make this work. First, Alice in Wonderland makes for a wonderfully colorful setting in which the puzzles seem to spring from the environment as opposed to being forced into it. The developers make logical and clever use of familiar characters and elements from Lewis Carroll’s often retold (and reinterpreted) tale, creating a cohesive world in which to descend, and the wonderful soundtrack helps to set the mood.
Second, the puzzles themselves are fun to figure out. It’s pretty simple to determine how to get Alice to the key that unlocks the hole and then on to the hole itself, but picking up all the extras along the way can be trickier. Trial and error is often your friend, and the game allows you to instantly replay a hole if you don’t get everything on your first try. In fact, this is where your skill level rises above your puzzle solving skills; you’ll sometimes have to deviate from the obvious path in order to grab everything, and getting back on path may require some pretty tricky strokes.
Alice in Wonderland Puzzle Golf Adventures also keeps things interesting across its 70+ holes by changing up the scenery and—more importantly—the requirements to advance. There’s a stroke limit, of course, but you also sometimes face time limits and other challenges. Puzzles become much more difficult to navigate when you’re not afforded a lot of time to work them through.
Unfortunately, the focus on puzzles means once you’ve played through all the holes there’s little to propel you back to play again. You can aim for 100% completion, of course, but I preferred to do that as I went along. If the game provided more a skill-based challenge it would be more fun to go back and try to improve your score.
It’s worth noting that Alice in Wonderland Puzzle Golf Adventures is a $2.99 purchase. That’s it. No ads, no in-app purchases, and you certainly get more than your money’s worth. You may also be happy to know this isn’t even a tie-in with the forthcoming Tim Burton movie, the game just uses visuals and characters inspired by the classic tale in a refreshingly upbeat way…that whole macabre goth Alice take has kind of worn itself out by now, I’ll argue.
Alice in Wonderland Puzzle Golf Adventures is more for the casual gaming crowd than the hard-core miniature golfer (yes, we’re out there), but if you’re in that crowd, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.
Genre: Miniature golf sim/puzzle
Seller: TapStar Interactive
Requirements: iOS 7.0 or later
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch
Availability: Now at the iTunes App Store