Mars Open-Bellwether Games-Review

"I can see kids spending time designing complex holes to attempt, putting up their own hazards and islands all over your home, because that’s the kind of kid I was."

Theme and What is it?

Who knew in the future we’d still be playing golf, let alone on Mars?  In Mars Open, you and a bunch of friends are playing a round of golf on the Red Planet.  Set up the holes, choose your “ball”, and go for that hole-in-one.

Gameplay Mechanics

Goal

As in the Earth game of golf, to win you must have the lowest score (fewest strokes).  If you’re playing by yourself, try to beat your best score for any given hole.

Setup

Assemble the hazard standees and place them according to the diagrams in the rulebook or as you see fit to create your own course.  The players choose their ball; there is a special Mars Open Leader Ball that is reserved for use by the last winner of a round of Mars Open. Place the Ball Tee and the players tee off within the Tee Zone according to the diagram.  Each hole has its own setup so this is done for as many holes as you want to play.

Turns

Players take turns for each stroke they make.  To start each hole, the player places his ball wherever he likes in the Tee Zone and takes his best shot, attempting to avoid the hazards and knocking it off the table.  Once the player gets his ball into the hole or records 8 strokes, he is done with the hole by recording his score and waits for the next hole. Play ends when the number of holes for the round is complete.

Initial Impressions

I wasn’t so convinced with this game given the type of game and kiddy nature.  Yet playing with my teenage boys, we had a good time and they wanted to play more.

Game Build Quality

Pretty much everything found in the box is a component, including the box.  I like games like that, but putting everything away was a little difficult as I am a bit of a perfectionist, I don’t things rattling around.  Some things had to go under the insert instead of on top because of the size and shape of the punchouts.

The box, golf hole insert, standee hazards, putting greens, etc. are made from a decent cardboard stock that would withstand a lot of gameplay.  The only issue I had with the components was punching them out; the long, narrow slots on the frame didn’t come away easily and split.

The “balls” are folded/bent pieces of lightweight cardstock.  The flicking action used to knock your ball around could cause problems with them over time, so making sure you don’t hit them in the same spot over and over is a good idea.  There are a number of “balls” to use so you won’t be looking for repairs or replacements soon. Even though the promo image says 1-4 players, the actual game has enough components for up to 8.

The rest of the game “components” are your tables, chairs, etc. that you use to set the game up on.  The holes can get complex and you might need a lot of space depending on your imagination.

Artistic Direction

The art is clean cut but cute, appropriate for the initial age range.  It reminds me of classic 50s/60s futuristic space cartoons like the Jetsons.  There is a variety of images but all of it is consistent on the components and the rulebook.

Fun Factor

Like any other dexterity game, proficiency comes not from how well you understand the rules or strategy but from physicality, such as how well can you line up your shot, ability to hit your ball around hazards, etc.  The holes progressively get more difficult but still with a game like this, anyone could be a master.

Age Range & Weight

Age range is 8+ and really it could be lower.  The art and theme are attractive to younger kids and even if they aren’t that manually dexterous, this is a game that can teach them.  Because this game isn’t limited in its setup, you can tailor the complexity and challenge to suit your needs.

Conclusions

Even though this game wouldn’t played much in my home, I can certainly recommend it for those with younger kids.  This is honestly a game that could be used to help kids become more proficient with hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and problem-solving.  I can see kids spending time designing complex holes to attempt, putting up their own hazards and islands all over your home, because that’s the kind of kid I was.  Don’t be surprised if you find those paper balls and standees on your coffee table or TV.