While there are a ton of musings around the internet on whether the FPS or MOBA genres are fading into obscurity, there is one that is unreservedly buried in the graveyard: mini-golf games. Which is kind of a shame. Sure, there is plenty of love for the arcade golf games like the Mario Golf series or the more professional Tiger Woods series, but mini-golf remains an untapped market even on PC. Even within my storied gaming career, I can’t remember playing too many mini-golf titles or mini-games outside of the original PlayStation’s Rugrats: Search for Reptar.
And then there is Wonder Wickets, a newly released game on Steam by freshman developers Righstick Studios. With an artstyle seemingly inspired by (yet more chibi than) Steven Universe, Wonder Wickets is a surprisingly dense puzzle and golfing crossover that helps clear up your mind from an otherwise packed Fall schedule.
The concept of Wonder Wickets should be simple for anyone who has ever tried out mini-golfing or standard modern golf game. With bizarre and elaborate space-themed levels, you will take your characters across the cosmos in nearly 100 holes. Each hole–represented by an in-theme black hole– typically has a satisfying puzzle around it like collecting supernovas, navigating around terrain roadblocks, or in-game enemies. Just like in real golf, the bottom line centers around keeping your swing count low and chasing gold or platinum awards.
In all of that, Wonder Wickets does a great job. While mostly leaning on mechanics of older golf games, everything translates well to a third-person overhead golf title and has enough customization (between shot heat level, curvature, and more). The game is easy to learn and perhaps hard to master on a “pro” level if you are aiming for all platinums on a replayability or trophy-hunting run. Regardless, the holes–which took anywhere from 2 to 25 minutes each–word normally relaxing enough in creativity that the game fell into the category of “pick me up games” over something I will dedicate time to in the long run.
A lot of what Wonder Wickets does right can be found in the gameplay, with some of its aesthetic choices like visuals and soundtrack are lacking. Both are serviceable, especially among the sparse and (typically bad) mini-game field, however, there is no hook in either of these elements. The music, which feels like it pulls out of Doki Doki Literature Club (but with half the charm) got muted an hour in as I threw on a podcast or something from my Spotify. However, as I mentioned above, Wonder Wickets has been a game for me to play in an almost zen-like state.
The game offers terrific replayability for a game of this size, thanks to a well-thought-out level creator and community sharing capability. My first project was making a DualShockers-themed stage, which would evolve into an hour-long crafting masterpiece. The game lends itself to a grid-based approach so you will get hints of Super Mario Maker vibes. And honestly, I think it’s laudable when a game of any size can throw it into the game.
Right now, the community is on the smaller size–even for an indie Steam game–with about 100 people in their Discord community. However, there is a ton of excitement behind the project, with more than a few people taking pride in their creations. When I was checking it out through the week, a player was bragging about the (inevitable) Undertale-themed stage.
The $20 asking price will hinge on how much you enjoy golfing games overall, but (for what it’s worth) Wonder Wickets is firmly one of the better mini-golf games you are going to get on PC. While I don’t see this as a game that will revitalize the genre, if you are looking to scratch an itch after playing Golf Story, this will be your game.