Splitting the game into four disparate XMB applications adds an additional layer of navigation to what is essentially a jump-in-jump-out package. Once you get there, the underlying gameplay is charming, addictive and refreshingly responsive.
At its very core, Hot Shot Shorties is a brilliant mini-game compilation. Unfortunately, it's Sony's presentation of the package that's dampened our excitement. Available as four separate PSN titles (Green, Blue, Yellow and Red), the disparate Shorties applications make up Japan's UMD retail release. Each of the four applications includes three completely unassociated mini-games at $4.99 / £2.39 a pop. A bundle of all four coloured applications can be purchased for $14.99 / £6.29.
We'd be completely fine with the model if it meant the mini-games plugged into one singular XMB application. We know this is possible as it's the way Sony handled Pinball Heroes. Sadly, Hot Shots Shorties installs four separate files on the XMB. If you want to switch between the mini-games in the packs you have to jump out of the application, back onto the dashboard and load up the desired module with the game you want. What's more, the applications require you to create four profiles, spreading your play stats (always an important component of any Hot Shots game) across the four different modules. We do understand why Sony wanted to break up the mini-games; it's a niche compilation and we understand the a-la-carte methodology behind the model. Unfortunately the implementation is so at odds with Hot Shots Shorties' ideology, and that's detrimental to the entirety of the package.
That said, if you can contend with the cumbersome arrangement of the titles, you're getting a real class collection here. Clap Hanz's Hot Shots franchise has long been acknowledged for its accessible gameplay mechanics, and Shorties builds on that underlying concept. The packaged mini-games are quirky, witty and doused in social commentary. Like Hot Shots Tennis, there's more intellectual awareness in Hot Shots Shorties than the cute graphical style would lead you to believe.
Take Face A La Creme, a pie-throwing mini-game which challenges you to hit as many social stereotypes as you can within a time limit. Then there's vacuum dash, a quirky little hoover-em-up that tasks a robot with a mammoth cleaning operation. There's nothing particularly socially aware about a robot with a vacuum, unless you realise that the Japanese version depicts a lady in the robot's place.
Each of the twelve games are beautifully presented and a master-class in simplistic controls. Rarely do the games rely on more than two or more buttons, with most relying on a demonstration of reactions. Karate, Clean-Up Hitter and Rush Hour Master all depend on quick thinking and breathless execution. There are some slower paced titles on offer too. One details your plight to become the number one librarian, challenging you to arrange a shelf of books in the fastest time possible. Another requires you to uproot turnips in ordered sequence.
But our absolute favourite mini-games are the ones where Clap Hanz give you an overwhelming sense of power; the games where every button press results in something exciting taking place on-screen. It is, after-all, Clap Hanz's greatest strength — instant gratification. Soccer Derby has you smashing up a neighbourhood with a lowly soccer ball. It's so simple yet so satisfying; every smash of the ball resulting in oodles of points, multipliers and shattering colours. Likewise the Counter Crusader has you controlling a salt shaker with a samurai sword, slicing a myriad of vegetables to within an inch of their life. The instant control response and slick frame-rate gives each of the games a fluid and addictive quality that puts them a tier above lesser mini-game compilations.
It's so disappointing then that the content's been so poorly compiled. Despite the instant gratification of the content, the inane congregation of the goods actually dampens the desire to jump in. It's irritating because, with a bit of care, this could — and should — have been so much more.
Hot Shots Shorties Blue Pack includes:
- Soccer Derby;
- Tractor Derby.
Hot Shots Shorties Green Pack includes:
- K.O. Derby;
- Counter Crusader;
- Rush Hour Master.
Hot Shots Shorties Red Pack includes:
- Blitz SNAFU;
- Bookshelf Dash;
- Face A La Creme.
Hot Shot Shorties Yellow Pack includes:
- Clean-Up Hitter;
- Vacuum Dash;
- Tillage Pillage.