Everything about the concept of 100ft Robot Golf is wonderfully absurd. It’s a game about playing golf while piloting huge mechs in the form of a campy low-budget anime. How that idea came together is anyone’s guess, but the result is nothing short of spectacular.
100ft Robot Golf’s take on the sport doesn’t play much differently from the actual game. You may be piloting massive robots and destroying cities along the way, but at the end of the day, you’re still playing a typical game of golf. There is one key difference, however: no one takes turns. Everyone takes their shots simultaneously. The main mode of Robot Golf feels more like a race, with points being earned not by completing holes in the fewest strokes possible, but by being the first to sink the ball. You can also play a regular ol’ game of golf, if that’s more your speed.
As you can imagine, this turns most games into absolute mayhem. Once the first shots are out, everyone usually scrambles to take the lead, trying to slow down other players along the way. Sabotage is pretty common and is often encouraged. Blocking or deflecting the other players’ shots is part of the game, and often key to maintaining a lead. It’s tough to pull off – you have to be in just the right spot at just the right time – but it never ceases to be satisfying.
I’ve had a couple games that quickly devolved into utter chaos as everyone focused on stopping each other’s shots, as everyone ran around the course, quickly switching between hitting their own balls and trying to disrupt their opponents by any means necessary. Whether that was flying straight into their ball’s trajectory, pushing around debris, or any number of other creative means, any progress we made toward the hole was small. It was a long series of matches, but an absolute blast all the same. Having the McElroy brothers (My Brother, My Brother, and Me, The Adventure Zone, etc.) superb commentary on top of all that only makes things that much better.
Though the actual game of golf is the focus, 100ft Robot Golf also has a fantastic campaign. The story follows the cast as they compete in a sort of reunion tour. The sport of robot golf has fallen out of vogue for a while, so all the old top players have retired from the sport to pursue other interests. Max, former robot golf star and television personality, decides to bring everyone back, along with a few newcomers, for one last tournament in a bid to revive his show. In reality, though, it’s all a cover for some sinister plot his compatriot Vahni’s hatching, the results of which are appropriately ridiculous.
The campaign takes you around the globe competing in games of robot golf to recruit people for the tournament, jumping between characters in almost every chapter. As each golfer plays differently, it acts as a good introduction their unique mechanics. Everyone has their own attack and power-shot. The former allows you to make quick work of potential obstacles on the course – buildings, mostly – while the latter affects the ball in a number of beneficial ways, such as giving it extra bounce or weight, or allowing you to put a bit of after-touch on it. The game doesn’t go out of its way to explain how these shots work, however, so it can be difficult to discern what exactly they do at first.
Each character also handles differently in addition to their abilities. Not the sense that they all have varying strengths and weaknesses, but rather in how they set up their shots. Max and Vahni use the standard Hot Shots Golf-style power-gauge to determine the strength and angle of your swing, for instance, whereas Camilla and Ernie rev up their robot’s engines, while other characters have to achieve synchronization either through body, soul, and mind (Suzume) or by having both pilots act in concert Pacific Rim-style (Project-C, which is literally a group of corgis). It gives the cast a tangible difference in how they play as opposed to the vague stats of most other sports games.
100ft Robot Golf may be a simple golf game at its core, but it’s the sheer absurdity of the premise and the chaos it facilitates that make it shine. If it was just a regular ol’ golf game in giant robots, it’d still be plenty entertaining. That they didn’t settle for a straight adaptation, however, is precisely what makes 100ft Robot Golf such a fun, inventive, and downright hilarious game.