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Video Game / What the Golf?

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The golf game for people who hate golf.
What the Golf? is a 3D comedy golf video game developed and published by Triband, primarily funded through the crowdfunding website Fig.

In this game, you play multiple little challenges that act as a parody of golf and its rules, whether you need to shoot a ball, a soccer ball, a horse, a couch, a cat, a little humanoid golf ball, or the golfer himself. Between the different challenges, you play as a golf ball who progresses through an abandoned laboratory (the exception are the A.Is and the few NPCs here and there, who are here without real reason). It appears this place is not as safe as one might think.

What the Golf? was released on PC and iOS in September 2019 and on Nintendo Switch in May 2020. New level packs have been added via free updates.


What the Troooooopes!

  • 100% Completion: Each level has two challenges that unlock in sequence, and completing both gets you a crown over the flag. Complete every level in an area and you get a trophy, and getting those plus a few exploration/overworld-puzzle trophies will get you 100%.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Downplayed. While there’s no evidence that the A.Is in the laboratory are responsible for its state and they don’t actively try to trick you, they show in the boss fights that they are not here to help you. Played straight with the final boss.
  • Amusing Injuries: During the game, humans and animals are frequently used instead of balls and, as such, are hurt. The only signs of that are the noises that they make and the ones that you hear when they touch the ground or are hit.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: The whole point of the game. The very first two levels can create the illusion that it’s just your average golf game. Then, in the third level, you don’t putt the ball, but the golf player, and it’s at this moment that the game reveals its true nature.
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  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: Several levels' challenges involve tipping over all the cats on the map, but their simplistic models and lack of animation makes the whole thing just look silly.
  • Boss Corridor: The final boss is preceded by a straight hallway that accelerates you through a series of doors.
  • Chest Monster: The laboratory map has some false flags that reveal monster faces when bumped rather than activating a level. A couple are just there for visual gags, but some of the awakened monsters affect traversal on the map.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Parodied. After the final boss, you fight the Frog King, who had been a minor presence in the game beforehand but has gained control over the forces consuming the laboratory. How this came to be is not addressed.
  • Eldritch Location: The laboratory is extremely big, has extremely long pipes that connect certain parts of it, has a door open to outer space, a section when gravity is screwed, desert and ocean zones are contained within it, and, at the end of the laboratory, something has taken place to create organic masses of flesh, slime, eyes, and mouths that have taken over most of the end of the lab.
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball: The "Golf Along" level is a brief 2D section where you putt the ball across the words "What the Golf?", and when you hit each word, it's sung aloud, creating the visual of this trope.
  • Foreshadowing: Possibly in one of the bowling levels. One of the extra challenges asks you to throw a ball down a course to knock down the "kingpin" on the middle of three pillars. The kingpin is the Frog King, who is the ultimate boss in the game and is apparently linked to the monstrous warping of the laboratory.
  • For Science!: The idea of the game's story is that scientists were so bored with golf that they devised various experiments to make something more interesting, gradually going more insane over time. It's hinted that everything down to the golfers was fabricated in the lab for the purpose of creating a silly golf game.
  • Genre Roulette: Even if it’s still a golf game, expect the gameplay to change at each big part. Soccer game, third-person shooter, first-person shooter, platform game, puzzle game…
  • The Greys: These replace the soccer-playing children during the final boss, which adds another layer to how far the experiments went.
  • Hub Level: The abandoned laboratory.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A visual example. In one point, the object you have to hit is a vase. If it touches a rock or a tree, it breaks and you lose. If you win? The vase still breaks and the comment "IT’S JUST A VASE" appears.
  • Meat Moss: Lab 0 of the facility has become largely consumed by a fleshy, gooey biomass with eyes, mouths, and tentacles. Defeating the final boss removes this, though not from the area preceding the final boss hole.
  • Mind Screw: Several of the levels defy expectation, physics, and logic. Many of them can only offer "What?" for their completion quip as a result.
  • Mood Whiplash: One minute, you're in a colorful level with funny music when you play as an egg that should reach the flag at the pan for being properly cooked. The other minute, you face the lonely atmosphere of the laboratory and the mysteries of it. The Golf Notes imply that, during their research into improving golf, the scientists have slowly lost their sanity, and at the very end, things become seriously dark.
  • Ninja Prop: A handful of levels pull a fast one on the player by using the aiming cursor as a physical object in different ways, instead of as the visual indicator for the ball's putt.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: The level where you control someone hiding in a box includes the character making a suspicious cheerful whistle whenever standing up and walking.
  • Parody: Of golf, but also of many other video games and their play styles.
  • Post-Final Boss: After defeating the last computer in a climactic fight, you have to face off against the Frog King, who had been a minor presence beforehand.
  • The Reveal:
    • The laboratory has become horrifyingly warped as a consequence of the experiments.
    • The Frog King has attained control over the monstrous biomass, perhaps due to a growth seen inside its body.
    • A much more minor case, but the trophy room, normally accessed by portal, is revealed to be connected to Lab 0 and the rooms where the final boss is accessed.
  • Ring-Out Boss: An early level has a challenge requiring you to knock the Frog King off the level before it can do the same to you.
  • Running Gag: Toast and toasters appear throughout the game, as do cats.
  • Shell Game: One of the holes features a sequence of these, placing the flag under shuffling cups and making you find the correct cup. The third one, however, moves far too quickly to track and you seemingly can never guess the right cup... since the flag is actually behind one of the trees.
  • Shout-Out: When the messages at the end are not puns, they’re generally this. Several levels mimic the gameplay of other titles.
  • Slapstick: A form of comedy used in the game.
  • Surprise Creepy: Lab 0 suddenly coming alive around you. Even if it can't actually hurt you, it's still a shock from such a previously lighthearted game.
  • Take That!: To golf. In-universe, the first "Golf Note" says "Golf is boring. Maybe we can fix it?". And during an interview, the developers said that they choose to mock golf because it was "mostly played by rich people, so it seemed like a single target".
  • World of Pun: Most of the levels provide puns upon completion related to the content of the level.