by Alex Krefetz
In game design, simplicity can make for an extremely enjoyable experience. Flappy Bird took a practically ancient game, slapped on new graphics and an unforgiving physics system and was downloaded millions of times. Angry Birds took simple physics and created a franchise complete with games, toys, fruit snacks and more. Well, simple gameplay and birds; we can’t get enough of birds. While it may not involve birds, Desert Golfing has the potential to be just as addictive and fun as other simple games.
Desert Golfing is a 2D game where you golf in the desert – sorry, but that’s really the only way to describe it. There have been countless 2D and 3D golf games on mobile phones, and on the surface Desert Golfing is just a simpler, less polished game. The graphics are nothing more than a ball, sand, and a flag (though there are rumors of cacti in later levels). You hit the ball by sliding your finger back to adjust for power and angle. If that sounds familiar, you’ve probably played a game on a Smartphone in the last eight years – it’s an extremely common mechanic. Each hole is a single screen, and completing a hole moves you on to the next one. Since you’re playing in the desert, all the ground is sand – it can be difficult to judge how a ball will roll or move along the rough turf, adding to the challenge. You’ll learn it fairly soon, but it’s important to remember the ball will not move as one would assume.
Instead of ending at 18 holes, the course keeps on going. I’ve worked my way up to level two hundred with no end in sight, and I’ve heard from friends who have made it up to the one thousands. “Hold infinity in the pocket of your shorts, and eternity in Desert Golfing” reads the cryptic description on the app store. It would seem the golf course is never ending, giving you all the time in the world to improve your score. Above the green (maybe brown?), your total strokes over the whole course are tallied. There are no jubilant celebrations for hole-in-one’s, nor a par you can score a bogey over. The game never congratulates you nor scolds you for poor play; you just move on to the next hole. There’s no way to mulligan on a hole or reset – the only way to reset your game is to delete and re-download the app. While this may not seem user friendly, it reinforces the main point of the game – keep going, keep trying to improve your score. Also, there don’t seem to be any leaderboards – you’re not competing against your friends, but yourself. The game borderline taunts the player, seeing how deep down the rabbit hole you’ll go.
Desert Golfing scratches an itch I didn’t know I had. I find myself in that dangerous “just one more hole” feeling that some of the most popular mobile games are able to pull off that makes it near impossible to put down. What Desert Golf lacks in graphical polish and deep gameplay mode it more than makes up for in creating an engaging experience you won’t be able to stop playing for a long time. Though it’s relatively new, I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about Desert Golf from your friends soon, asking what level you’ve made it to and if you’ve seen anything bizarre like a cactus or a different shade of sand. It’s the type of game you’ll find yourself thinking about just before bed, turn on your phone to play just a few more levels, and stay up hours longer than you had planned.