Goal In One Game

Goal In One: Where football meets golf in a neat little package

I haven’t yet experienced a game by ‘Armor Games’ that hasn’t at very least lightly tickled my gaming fancy a in a fairly big way, allowing me to pass some time and to generally distract me from the very disheartening fact that I live in a country where the quantity of rainfall in the  air at any one time is threatening to surpass Nitrogen’s current atmospheric majority (roughly 78% for those unfamiliar with the percentage spread of the contents of earth’s atmosphere). My expectations were therefore quite high as I entered cautiously into the playing field of ‘Goal In One’, hoping not to be met with as much disappointment as the relentless drizzle and unstoppably miserable climate of the UK leads me to feel on a daily basis.  I was met with a simple, physics-based ball-launcher game that tested my skills of dexterity, spatial judgement, and occasionally, my patience. It isn’t the slickest, it’s far from the best, and it doesn’t provide you with a particularly lengthy entertainment extravaganza to get stuck into, but it is undeniably fun to play while it lasts. I’ll attempt to break it down for you in the following collection of words, sentences and paragraphs.

Star Soccer Games: Goal In One: take aim

A photo that most accurately represents the gameplay: Shoot to score in as few shots as possible for success!

The idea

If you are to take the title as in indicator of the contents of the game, you would assume that either the game is an attempt at a smooth mixing of the properties of the sports of golf and football, or that the title is purely a misleading attempt at a very weak sports pun: the former assumption is the closest to the truth here, and the pun isn’t really all that bad come to think of it (particularly whe n considering the tripe that comes out of most commentator’s mouths 90-90% of the time). The game most definitely exhibits properties of both sports, since the premise is to launch a football with varying amounts of force with your mouse towards a goal that sits at increasingly difficult-to-reach locations as you progress. The golfing element swaggers into play with the layout of the levels, looking like somewhat of a virtual variation on the classic game of crazy golf.

While the initial levels don’t come close to deserving the adornment of the word ‘crazy’, the later levels creep very swiftly towards mental instability in their difficulty, eventually reaching certifiably insane levels of ridiculousness that may cause soaring levels of confusion and frustration, with most of this puzzlement being the healthy kind which adds to the challenging nature of the game, and not the kind that makes you throw in the towel by literally throwing the computer in desperate annoyance. The game is based on a par system much like golf, but without the endless walking, silly choice of clubs or the outrageously substantial prize money (not to mention the various scandals that come with being an incredibly rich and famous golfing professional). You must attempt to reach the goal in as few shots as possible, with the ultimate aim being to achieve the hole in one, if only to hear the congratulatory tidings of ‘Goal in One’ issued to you by the game upon successfully attaining the perfect shot. I’m sure that somewhere in the world the developers are wildly slapping themselves on the back for that kind of wordplay.

 

The Gameplay

Ok, mild joking aside, I’ll admit that the game is much more entertaining than its fairly basic appearance initially led me to believe it would be. Holding down the left mouse button allows you to prepare your shot, causing a directional arrow to appear along with a number that indicates the relative power of your strike; the longer you make the arrow, the higher the number and therefore the more portent your shot will be. Certain variables and obstacles are scattered throughout the ‘course’, so to speak, in order to make things a little more challenging and to put the ‘crazy’ into the ‘crazy golf’ element of the whole thing . Ranging from simple deviations in the direction of the course itself, to sharp corners, twisting turns and rotating platforms, these obstacles create physical barriers to your progress as well as putting your ball at risk of bursting due to it being crushed between the rotating platforms. In order to keep up with the action, you must use the directional arrows to move the screen in the direction of the goal since it is usually just out of sight of the starting position of the ball. Once you have scouted out the general shape of the course in front of you, you can return to the ball by pressing the spacebar at which point you can proceed with taking your shot.

Tactics

Navigating the ball from its starting position to the mouth of the goal is all there is to it, but it isn’t as simple as just smashing the ball with as much force as possible in the general direction of the goal; doing so will usually result in the ball bouncing rapidly between two surfaces while rarely ever sending it anywhere near the intended destination. This technique may pay off in the first set of courses, which can be treated as a sort of low-stakes introductory tutorial which you can use to become accustomed to the feel of the physics and what is expected of you; it’s kind of like the first year of most University undergraduate courses where expectations are (relatively) low and your progress doesn’t really matter in the context of the course. Use the level to become accustomed to the shooting, however, since the following level introduces a change in the physics by reducing the gravity and making your life a little bit more difficult. Softer tactics are certainly required in the second and third stages of the game, as the low gravity will punish any overly-hasty, unnecessarily- powerful or poorly-planned shots that you make. Taking your time and planning your shot using the directional arrows is an absolute must, and reaching the ‘Hell Goal’ level is something that almost cannot be taught by means of words alone; you simply have to play it for yourself to see.

Levels

Ok, it’s impossible to hide it; the game is somewhat of a short affair. Now, I don’t mean the average length of the career of any X-Factor winner ever kind of short; I mean even shorter than this. We’re talking 3-minute advert break or the number of minutes that most people can put up with Brian Blessed’s devastatingly powerful voice kind of short. This isn’t the fault of the difficulty of the game; while the first collection of ‘holes’ is fairly simple to achieve a perfect run of ‘Goal In Ones’ in, the second stage’s altered gravity makes things considerable more challenging, requiring some more delicate handling and accurate, well-timed shooting of the ball. Moreover, the final stage is quite literally set in the backdrop of Hell as a kind of pathetic fallacy that indicates the unbelievable difficulty of the single ‘Hell Shot’ you must perform which spans about four levels of depth and takes you around an outrageously elaborate course of scenery.

Each level has to be unlocked by achieving a certain score in the previous one, and unlocking the last stage proved to be a little difficult. However, the game simply falls short in its total number of levels that are offered to the player; it simply needs more of them in order to be able to provide the length of gameplay that is expected of most flash games of its type (I definitely expected it to be longer anyway, regardless of any other games). It can be completed in under fifteen minutes and without offering many other unlockable features, I have very little faith in the game’s ability to draw the player in for any kind of returning interest in the game such as achieving a perfect ‘Goal In One’ for each of the levels. It simply hasn’t got enough content to generate the kind of desire that makes one want to return to the game to beat its other challenges (of which there are none); any incentives to replay the game simply don’t exist.

Star Soccer Games: Goal In One: score screen

Each level must be unlocked by making progress in the previous; as you can see, the selection of levels isn't exactly overwhelming

Oops

The minor issues sadly don’t stop with the content, either; small (but noticeable) faults in the gameplay itself make themselves known very quickly. The main issue is with the movement of the screen when using the arrow keys to explore the rest of the course around you; the movement feels very clumsy and it is quite unresponsive to the extent that if feels like you’d more success at flushing the toilet in the house across the street with the directional keys than with getting the screen to move in the path that you are directing it with the keyboard. The movement of the ball across the screen in general feels a little sluggish and awkward, which can be a source of irritation when trying to navigate through the more intricate parts of the more difficult levels. Even small details such as the menus look a little basic, though I like to think this adds a little bit of charming character, and at least we are not misled in any way by distractingly flashy menus only to be somewhat let down by the fairly simple nature of the game in general. Perhaps uncomplicated is a more appropriate word. Simply unburdened by the unnecessarily fancy aesthetics of many modern flash games, you could say.

Full Time

Before I blow the whistle on this review (my privilege as a literary referee), I’d like to remind everyone that in spite of the few minor hitches in its gameplay and relatively short length from start to finish, Armor Game's ‘Goal In One’ manages to provide a lovely bit of fusion entertainment, taking the aesthetics of football and applying the rules of golf in order to create an odd little hybrid that was probably picked on at school but actually went on to do alright for itself. Its basic look and relatively meagre selection of levels will still manage to keep you frustrated for up to half an hour (any longer, and you may wish to question whether flash games are the right pastime for you). Even the relatively weak ‘Goal In One’ pun can be forgiven in return for the fair few minutes of entertainment I seemed to squeeze from this unusually-flavoured but pleasant-to-eat fruit of light entertainment. 

Quantatively Speaking: 60/100

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