Not every game has to be a super-indepth experience. You don’t always want a lore-heavy, 200 hour RPG, or a lengthy strategy game that asks you to micromanage a dozen different systems. Sometimes, all you want is a nice, casual experience that simply offers you a good time.
So if that sounds nice to you, you should probably look elsewhere than MiniMal Lab’s latest offering for the Nintendo Switch, Nicky: The Home Alone Golf Ball. The title is a mix between mini-golf, and Getting Over It with Bennet Fody (a title whose name may have brought back traumatic memories for some of you, and rightly so). Players take the role of the titular golf ball, Nicky, and attempt to guide him home through a whacky, obstacle-filled world. It sounds easy. It is not.
Gameplay-wise, players putt Nicky around using either the analogue controls, or by physically touching the Nintendo Switch’s screen. You simply pull back on the golf ball, and you’ll launch him in the opposite direction of your pull. As a bonus, you don’t need to wait for Nicky to come to a complete halt before you hit him again.
When you first start up the game, you’re offered a plethora of items to decorate Nicky with – hats, glasses, hair, and facial hair, all so you can make your Nicky fairly unique. It wasn’t really required for the title, but it’s a nice little addition to the hell that awaits.
Once you’re satisfied with your ‘Nickysona’, you’re dumped into the start of the course: A pack of golf balls inside a house. A narrator, whose origins are never explained, pleads that its time for you to return to the range. The voice used here is a very obvious text-to-speech, and the one you may have heard in many memes and Reddit-reading videos; I’m not sure why they shelled out for a license of that voice instead of just hiring a voice actor for the job. I hope you like it though: You’ll be hearing this voice every time you progress a few metres, quipping something about the environment or that.
And so we get to the game itself. You’ll quickly realise the level design is fairly varied – you won’t just be going forwards the whole time. Up, down, backtracking, and knocking over and activating objects all over will help you get through the world.
Not that you will be getting through it – easily, at least. Whilst you always know where you should go, and what you should do, actually doing it is easier said than done: Moving platforms, vanishing platforms, obstacles you think you should be able to go under or over but can’t, and other fun design aspects turn the game into a frustrating experience at times. Every time you conquer one set of challenges, you find yourself with another, requiring you to master a different type of skillset. It’s something that will really satisfy those looking for a challenge, and really frustrate those who are not.
By the time you do reach the end – something that apparently took me a whole hour – that’s kind of it. You get a reward screen, and are encouraged to try to get through the map quicker for the global leaderboards, but you don’t unlock any new cosmetics, songs, or anything else. So the desire to ever replay the title is minimal at best.
The game’s music is sourced from the YouTube Library, and Androids Always Escape by Chris Zabriskie – not a bad song by any means, but definitely has a ‘Minecraft ambience’ vibe. The options are basic and, shockingly, there is support for multiple languages.
Overall, Nicky’s adventure is a much shorter and lighter retread of Getting Over It. It has some charm, and the gameplay is challenging, and perhaps best of all, it’s only $1 USD or regional equivalent. If you want to take a break and drive yourself insane for an hour, this is the game for you. But if not – its very much not.