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‘Dangerous Golf’ is the 'Jackass’ of Video Games About Boring Sports

‘Dangerous Golf’ is the 'Jackass’ of Video Games About Boring Sports:

Set the raucous Jackass team loose in The Louvre with a caddy and a bucket o’ balls and what ensued would be akin to Dangerous Golf. Maybe Johnny Knoxville would aim the ball toward one of his co-stars first, but even still, Dangerous Golf’s disregard for public property is gleefully cathartic when it works.

The Jackass crew ruined golf before. Whether blowing airhorns before swings or smashing into one another with golf carts, they’re no strangers to desecrating the sometimes smug sport. That’s what Dangerous Golf subsists on, a somewhat senseless but ridiculously entertaining spectacle of damage, all with little actual golf. The raucous sort-of-but-not golf outing carries a snarky and catchy destructive hook, meeting at an intersection of Angry Birds and Jackass counter-culture.

Dangerous Golf pantomimes the cultural flux of the late ‘90s and early '00s that was right at the uprising of MTV’s comically injurious reality show. Some of this comes from developer Three Fields Entertainment, a studio formed from ex-Criterion employees (makers of the smash-and-crash Burnout racing series). Their destructive streak continues here.

Even the slanted, noise-making fonts in the game bleed '90s appeal, like a Nintendo “Play-It-Loud” commercial. Touch it up with a bit of grungy guitar and the transportation to an earlier decade is complete.

A SPORTING ENDEAVOR

Dangerous Golf is an eclectic, original extreme sport—if not Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O, then something Red Bull would push into existence. The inherent danger of lighting up propane canisters with a golf ball (for points) seems perfect for Red Bull’s circus-like sports circuit. And if Red Bull Rampage, which perilously sends bike riders down mountainsides, exists, so should Dangerous Golf.

Damage calculations on these environments regularly churn through seven digits. Antique vases are set up like bowling pins; marble statues await destruction by what must be a herculean golf ball. Rather than waiting to be read, shelves of books wait to be set on fire and the pages scattered across the floor. Dunk the ball into a mop bucket for a bonus—the wheels roll forward, sending the water-filled cart toward additional destruction. That’s a Jackass stunt through and through.

The “golf” component is thin and any reality less so. There are no club selections. There are no clubs at all, actually. Flick the left analog stick forward and the ball jets into breakable objects. Each hole is a pithy par 2. Putts are on a beeline to the hole. Sink it, and the flag catches fire, because reasons.

SPEAKING TO THE MASSES

Castle WeaponsRoom

There’s a touch of innocent social consciousness to the work. Dangerous Golf ribs America’s food obsession by staging scenarios in stocked kitchens. Australian levels exist in a deserted gas station, the only landmark for miles. France-based challenges impart their snooty admiration for fine art and museums. The British show off their castles, stocked with suits of armor, lit by stained glass. It’s quaint, a bit of friendly joking with national stereotypes.

Oddly, certain levels institute rules. They’re awful. Some put timers on the destruction. Some assign penalties for hitting certain objects, as if anything in Dangerous Golf should be off-limits from the destruction. In these levels, “Dangerous” doesn’t refer to microwaving a golf ball; it means not hitting the chocolate cake on a table or you’ll incur a penalty. Counter-intuitive, and joyless in application—like Jackass if it was scripted.

Dangerous Golf’s internal struggle is in attaching purpose to its mayhem—to find the gamification in a game. There are medals to unlock, secrets to find, special objects to break; few of them feel necessary. Dangerous Golf merely needs a suite of explosions, shattering glass, and splattering paint, and maybe a score.

It’s not as if the Jackass team set up their stunts with any significance. The fun was their outlandish low brow, college bro absurdity and randomness, which Dangerous Golf courts. Flick the analog stick, watch the ball go. Asking for precision against a timer seems frivolous and misses the point.

Oh well. Here’s another Jackass clip for fun.


Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 16 years. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.


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