No Goblin’s Roundabout was, honestly, an easy contender for my Game of the Year in 2014. While it might not have had the huge budget associated with most Game of the Year contenders, it was a hilariously on-point satire of 70’s action movies, encased in a racing/puzzle game where you had to rotate a limousine around the world, while trying to hit time limits and avoiding obstacles. Plus, it provided us with Jeffrey the Skeleton, arguably the most iconic video game character of all time. No Goblin clearly put a lot of thought and effort into Roundabout and now with their second title, 100 Foot Robot Golf, that same sense of care has been taken once more, albeit with a completely different genre of games.
It’s important to note one thing about 100 Foot Robot Golf before you jump into it. If you’ve never had experience with early 90’s anime dubs, you’re going to lose a lot of the humor of the game. Seemingly, the main source of the games humor comes from Evangelion, but if you’ve ever watched a horribly dubbed anime from that early era of American imports of anime, you’ll get the general sense of what No Goblin is going for. It feels eerily similar to Roundabout in that No Goblin seems to inherently understand exactly what they are parodying; where Roundabout was largely a send-up of 70’s action movies/television, 100 Foot Robot Golf is a send-up of bad anime dubs.
The plot revolves around a group of golfers who pilot mechs. After “The Eagle Incident” the Earth was changed forever. A shady group of financiers are looking to restart the Robot Golf league by recruiting some of the best in the field, all the while working towards their own goals. The golfers include a disembodied head, five corgis who pilot a mech made of five different robotic dogs combined to create one giant robot and, yes, even Jeffrey the Skeleton makes an appearance. Even Pierce Washington from the Saint’s Row franchise makes a special guest appearance.
What’s more important is that each character is played almost dead to rights in the way you’d expect them to be in a cliched anime. Character movement is minimal, as you’ll usually only see them move from one side of the screen to the other, only to be followed by an extreme close-up of their face. The audio quality adds an even deeper level to this feeling of cheesy anime, as the voice delivery is never exactly good, but almost never awful. A lot of the performances just exist, in the same way you’d expect an early 90’s anime to. No Goblin has done their homework and knows exactly the kinds of performances they are looking for and they get them.
Additionally, the McElroy brothers, Travis, Griffin and Justin, act as commentary for the actual game. If you have listened to My Brother, My Brother and Me or watched Monster Factory or any of the other hundred or so McElroy podcasts, you’ll instantly recognize their style of humor. In fact, you can see a lot of their humor from Griffin and Justin’s Monster Factory episode of Tiger Woods 2008 translated into this commentary. The biggest wash with the commentary, however, is that you will hear a lot of repeats of jokes, especially as you play the same characters across multiple rounds of the Robot Kings game.
All of this, however, wouldn’t be enough to save the game if it played poorly. Thankfully, as with Roundabout, No Goblin clearly knows what they’re doing when designing their silly game. 100 Foot Robot Golf has you playing across 36 different courses, set across 4 different environment types. There’s a set of levels set across a series of heavily populated islands, one set in the Himalayas, one set underwater and the final set on the Moon.
Some levels will be based on trying to hit under par while others will pit you against other players who are playing on the same field as you at the exact same time. Your titular 100 Foot Robot has to try to play golf in environments containing skyscrapers, submarines, asteroids and a number of other obstacles blocking your path. It ends up playing as a mid-way point between mini-golf, with it’s numerous trick shots and obstacles, and serious golf where you have to avoid water hazards and sand traps.
Adding to the mix, each mech plays slightly different from the other. While some mechs have a traditional video game “raise a meter to hit a ball with power and avoid slicing the ball” mechanic, others require you to rev the engines on your mech to just the correct level in order to hit the ball in the way you want it to. Still others require you to try and “sync” across three different quick-time event style meters. Add to that the fact that each mech has special abilities that can be activated after a certain number of hits and you have each mech feeling unique.
However, what mech game would be complete without some blatant property destruction? The big trick of 100 Foot Robot Golf is that your mech can easily destroy any building in the way. Rather than having your character teleport to the ball after you make your shot, you have to try and walk to where the ball lands. What will often happen is you’ll hit your golf ball and immediately try to get in front of the ball and blast any potential obstacles. Additionally, if you are playing with other players, you can actually jump in front of their balls and stop re-direct them. If you are playing the games multiplayer, this can honestly become incredibly irritating, which is why the game also allows you to smack the crap out of other players. It makes the whole experience far more involved than most golf games.
While the general experience is fantastic, there are a couple of big issues that can really make the experience less than enjoyable. First, if your ball lands on a piece of debris from a building, you always need to be aware that the debris can launch your ball far from where you aimed. While often the aiming can be somewhat questionable (you can hit a ball perfectly only to have it land hundreds of feet away), landing your ball on the debris of an underwater dome can cause it to launch from near the cup to the very beginning of the course. You also can’t restart the hole itself but rather you have to restart the entire course. While the campaign only has up to 3 holes per course, if this happens when you’re playing multiplayer where you can play up to 5 holes in a course, you could be screwed by the physics of the game.
It should also be noted that 100 Foot Robot Golf has Playstation VR support. While we currently do not have a PSVR, we will have impressions of how the game plays in VR when it launches. Needless to say the potential of playing as a mech playing golf in VR sounds incredible.
100 Foot Robot Golf is a fantastic game. No Goblin has produced a second fantastic title with a serious knowledge of what they’re doing. Not only does the satire hit on point, the actual gameplay feels great. Multiplayer is a blast and the campaign is a good bit of fun, albeit a bit short. Characters feel drastically different, leading to a game that feels more like Mario Golf than it does Tiger Woods (though Mario Golf does not have giant mechs in it). While there are some minor problems, 100 Foot Robot Golf is just a joy to play. If you’re into the material the game is parodying, you’re going to have a fantastic time.
SCORE: 9.0 out of 10
A code for 100 Foot Robot Golf was provided to Pixel Related for review.