clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
two random characters race to the hole in What the Golf’s competitive mode Image: Triband

Filed under:

What the Golf? is out on Nintendo Switch, and you should buy it

I’ve decided against subtlety

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

What the Golf? launched on iOS devices and Windows PC in 2019, and was one of the funniest games of the year. It finally came to Nintendo Switch on Thursday, with the addition of a two-player competitive mode that’s new to this version of the game.

The Switch version of the game is the best version, by the way. It’s the port I’ve been waiting for.

This is how it works: What the Golf? looks like a standard golf game, and it’s played in the expected way. You point your arrow where you’d like the ball to go, you hold a button to select the strength with which you hit the ball, and the ball flies or rolls toward the hole.

Except it may be the character on the screen who is flung forward as if struck by a golf club when you try this on the next hole. Or maybe you’re using that “aim and select strength” mechanic to roll a house around the countryside.

That’s just the setup, though. The game keeps these jokes going longer than should be humanly possible, always adding some new idea, wrinkle, or visual pun. You can read our review of the original game to learn more if you’d like, because the main campaign in the Switch port doesn’t seem to deviate from it in many ways — and nor should it. What the Golf? was already a stone-cold comedic masterpiece, at a time when it seems like humor in games is getting very good.

The Switch version offers all the things I want from a Switch version of any game, really; it just turns out that What the Golf? is perfectly designed for a semi-portable system. The game works perfectly when I have a minute for a single hole or two. It also works well when I want to sit down in front of the TV for an hour and get serious with seeing everything.

The Switch port includes options for regular or touch controls, and you can switch between them on the fly just by touching the screen after using the buttons, and vice versa. It all just works; you don’t have to think about how you’d like to play, because you can always choose to play in that manner. The Switch platform itself is versatile, and provides a great home to these sorts of arcade-heavy games.

The competitive mode pits two players on the same screen against each other, putting them through a selection of seemingly random levels from the campaign as they race to the finish.

a golfer seems to hit himself instead of the ball in What the Golf?
This is one of the most normal moments in the game.
Image: Triband

Being the first player to finish each level gives you a point. Each point earned turns into health that will be used in the final level, where both players attack each other directly using the rules of a few different battle areas, dropping the race aspect of the competition entirely. In one version of the final event, you grab explosive balls and fire them at the other player.

If you won more of the previous holes than your opponent, you’ll be able to survive more punishment in the final round, although this makes the rare turnaround all the more exciting when it takes place.

The competitive mode isn’t exactly a perfectly balanced experience, and I wished it had four-player support, but it’s already a fun — and funny — bonus that helps with the game’s overall longevity. I can’t see myself returning to this mode in a year, because it’s a little thin. But it’s been a favorite in the house for the past few days, and that’s all I really needed out of a new mode attached to an already near-perfect comedic adventure.

The changes here are slight: It’s easier now to use multiple control schemes whenever you’d like, there’s a new game mode, and that’s about it. But What the Golf? is such a perfect fit on Nintendo Switch that it’s hard to imagine playing any other way.

There may not be enough here to justify a second purchase if you’ve already finished the game’s campaign, but players new to the clever design of What the Golf? will be rewarded for their wait if they buy the Nintendo Switch version of the game. An already near-perfect game has been made slightly better due to the hardware it’s on, making this the definitive version of the game.

What the Golf? is out now on iOS, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC. The game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a final “retail” download code provided by Triband. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon