You’d need a heart more barren than a bothersome bunker to dislike Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational (or Everybody’s Golf, as it’s known in Europe). Originally putted onto the PlayStation Vita, this PlayStation 3 port of the sugary sporting sim is every bit as sweet as its portable predecessor. Boasting a bevy of colourful courses, more content than a caddy’s shoulder bag, and the same brand of evergreen gameplay that’s defined the franchise for the past 15 years, you could do much worse than tap-tap-tapping your way through this on par effort.
Not a lot has changed in this console iteration. The touch screen controls have been whipped out of the golf cart swifter than a 9 Iron, and replaced by infinitely more taxing PlayStation Move compatibility. The motion wand works adequately, though judging power can be a case of trial and error. You can accurately apply spin to your shots by twisting the cylindrical device at impact – or simply performing your usual swing if you have a nasty hook like this particular author.
Employing the motion controls does sprinkle a little authenticity, but Clap Hanz’s series has always excelled in the arcade stakes. As such, you’ll likely feel most comfortable carving your way through the campaign with a trusted DualShock 3 in hand. As with the handheld instalment, you’ll be playing your way through increasingly complex environments in the main single player mode, gathering stars (and, if you’re good enough, crowns) in order to unlock golfing stand-offs against the sport’s most curious characters.
Despite the inherent repetition of the core gameplay loop, the world tour keeps things interesting by implementing unique rules. In one round you may be forced to contend with stormy conditions, while another will double the size of the cup, making those all-important Chip-In Eagles a breeze. Slot matches change the rules on the fly, helping or hindering you as move from hole to hole. It’s here that the game can be a bit unfair, as the odds almost always favour the computer in head-to-head matches.
Still, the presentation is so earnestly twee that it’s hard to feel too flustered with the inconsistent difficulty. And if the game gets too competitive, you can always shuffle over to the stroke play mode, where your goal is to set a personal best. Wherever you concentrate your efforts, you’ll be earning points, which can be invested in new kit, gear, and custom parts from the in-game store. Different balls and clubs augment you with improved statistics, while there’s the usual array of concept art and audio tracks to keep your personal club house furnished with points of interest.
Multiplayer can be enjoyed locally or online. As with the portable instalment, daily international tournaments allow you to partake in relaxed rounds against the globe, working towards your best score in order to top the leaderboards. You’ll be playing against PS3 and Vita owners, though the format is perhaps more appropriate on the pocketable platform. Still, it’s fun if you can remember to dive back in everyday – and watching your predicted ranking fluctuate as you fluff birdie putts and fly through par fives is a real thrill.
It’s the lobby-based multiplayer that’s likely to appeal most, though. Here you control a personalised online avatar through animal-themed worlds, where you can chat to likeminded players and arrange matches on the fly. The interactive lobbies – which feature footballs, emoticons, and high-bars – suit the light-hearted nature of the action to a tee, and will likely occupy your time just as much as the actual golf.
Nevertheless, the netcode is slick once you actually do hit the links. The developer has done a decent job of bringing the vibrant visuals of the handheld release to the big screen, though the graphics are never going to blow you away from a technical perspective. Fortunately, the quirky art style and outrageously infectious soundtrack make up for any framerate hiccups and unintentionally rough textures.
The gaming equivalent of bubblegum soda, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is unequivocally entertaining. Even when your computer-controlled adversaries manage to sink an unfathomable albatross against impossible odds, it’s tough to stay mad at Clap Hanz’s rainbow-tinted take on an otherwise tedious sport. If you’ve already played every hole to death on the Vita, then it’s probably not worth the second membership fee, but if this is your first trip to the clubhouse, then get comfortable – you’re going to be sticking around for some time.