Whether or not you are familiar with Team17’s Worms franchise, Worms Crazy Golf HD is first and foremost, a solid and fun iOS golfing experience.

For anyone who has never played a “Worms” game before, they are a series of strategy games that pit players against one another (in the form of cute little worms) armed with an arsenal of unique and sometimes downright obscure weapons including bazookas, bombs, missiles and grenades. Worms Crazy Golf inhabits Team17’s same Worms universe, but instead of battling one-another in strategical combat, you’ll be battling the elements, hazards, fairways and other various obstacles as you try to sink your ball in the cup.

There are four unlocakble 18-hole courses to choose from and, as it has become the standard, players can customize and level-up their Worm’s clubs, balls and equipment to improve their skills as they progress through the game. This is done via an in-game currency system. The controls are simpler than more realistic golf games (like Tiger Woods) in that I rarely (if ever) manually switched my club from the auto-selected one (you only have a driver, iron, wedge and putter). Worms Crazy Golf utilizes a drag-to-aim targeting cross-hair and a two-tap (or optionally, hold and release) power meter for aiming and hitting your shot.

Aside from the usual variance in play surfaces which cause the ball to roll differently and the wind to deal with, Worms Crazy Golf earns its “middle” name with an eclectic collection of obstacles that make this golf game anything but your average outing on the links. In a (sometimes feeble) attempt to counter these adverse conditions, players can swipe the screen to impart spin on their ball. Fortunately that’s not the only trick in your bag. Utilities are special in-flight means for manipulating your ball mid-air. Their use is either limited by time or numbers of uses per-hole. There are also magnets, cannons and teleports which can alter you path as well as disgruntled sheep and other worms which explode when hit, making a really big divot that you’ll have to get out of.

By completing a hole with a score of par or better, you unlock the next hole, and successfully finishing all holes on a single course, unlocks the next course. Many of the holes are long and sprawling with many ways to approach the hole. However, I often found myself ignoring many of the obstacles and playing the game more like a traditional golf game, taking the most direct path instead of trying to pull off crazy tricks involving the obstacles, because if I didn’t earn par, I wouldn’t be able to move on to the next hole. So unfortunately while you could be “crazy” and take the road less traveled, you are actually sort of discouraged from doing so if you want to progress through the game.

Players are rewarded by collecting the coins and crates spread across each hole. As mentioned earlier, these coins can be used to purchase upgrades for your Worm. While not a necessity, they add a little depth and longevity to the experience. Unfortunately there isn’t any online-multiplayer, but there is a “Hot Seat” multiplayer mode on the same device and a cool challenge mode that has you trying to complete special tasks like hitting all the sheep on a hole, collecting all the crates etc..

My one main complaint about the game is its odd auto-camera movements. At any time, players can drag their finger around to see the full course, or pinch to zoom. However, as soon as you start your swing, the camera will automatically move in for a close-up, meaning that it can sometimes be difficult to calculate the exact power needed for a particular shot, because you can no longer necessarily see where you were aiming towards. Instead, you can only see just a few inches in front and back of you. So you’ll have to pre-determine where you plan to stop the power meter, BEFORE starting to swing.

In Conclusion

Worms Crazy Golf HD is a fun take on the golfing genre, offering a solid traditional golf game as well as quirky new obstacles to create a new and different experience, but the system of unlocking holes discourages exploration. The cute cartoony Worms and their funny reactions give the game a lot of character and broad appeal. The iPad version is available for $4.99 and there is an (unfortunately separate) iPhone release for $2.99. While I wish the game supported asynchronous online multiplayer, Worms Crazy Golf does offer local multiplayer and a nice single-player experience with career and challenge modes as well as Game Center leaderboards and achievements.