If you haven’t been following the series, it might be easy to be confused about what Everybody’s Golf is. If I said Hot Shots Golf, would that ring a bell? Similar to the Resident Evil series having another name in Japan (Biohazard), Hot Shots Golf has always held the title of Everybody’s Golf on the other side of the Pacific. Everybody’s Golf PS4 marks the first US release of the game to drop the Hot Shots title and have parity with the original Japanese name. The name may be new, but it’s a PlayStation series that has persisted for 20 years.
The series’ first foray onto the current generation of consoles is a beautiful treat to behold. There’s contrast in the grass and the bright sky bring every course to life. The staple cartoony graphics are still here with the avatars, but the courses themselves bridge a valley between realism and a fictional world. Though I would have liked to see the avatars take on less of a “Mii-esque” appearance, I was impressed by the sheer amount of customization available for the characters. Honestly, that cartoon vibe is part of the family friendly staple that makes Everybody’s Golf accessible as more of an arcade game, and less of a sports one.
Everybody’s Golf introduces skills and strategies at a progressive pace that help you learn the game. Taking part in offline tournaments will teach you how to play, starting with the basics of the the three tap system to hit the ball, and then getting into using different clubs, backspins, and other tools that you can add to your skillset. The game also gives you new skills, such as the homing shot, which can be achieved with certain skilled button presses while hitting the ball.
Your skills aren’t limited to how you hit the ball though. As you play, you will level up your clubs’ power, precision, backspin, and ability to get the ball into the hole. If golf clubs in the real world had this ability, I feel like I would actually play. Each club levels up independently, so you’ll find that some will gain in power, while others will have a lot of control. Changing up clubs from the recommended one for each shot helps to level their abilities and get a feel for different ways of approaching each hole.
On the Fairway
Throughout gameplay, the courses are given unique tweaks to change things up and challenge players. One tournament might have tornado holes that suck in nearby balls, making it easier to chip a shot in from off the green, while another may set you back at a further tee off spot to challenge your driving ability. Strong winds will require you to rethink the angle of your shot, and the tilt of the green might send your put sailing right past the hole. What at first seems to be a simple game of tapping three times to set your power level and then hit the ball ends up having quite a complex system to master in order to come out on top in the tournaments.
Everybodys Golf Review - Golf for Everyone (PS4)
Calling back classic arcade game days of unlocks and progression, as you take your journey through Everybody’s Golf, new features and game types will unlock. Eventually you’ll get a golf cart to drive around the open courses, and soon after that a fishing mini-game opens up, because what game is complete without the ability to fish? These, along with unlockable outfits and customization items, add a nice sense of variety to what could otherwise just be a golf game.
Online feels like it was the strong focus of Everybody’s Golf. Each nine hole course is now an open world essentially, allowing you to run around and tee off on single holes or start a full nine hole round. You can watch other players play or challenge them to beat your scores, and there are rotating bonuses that incentivize playing on different courses. It’s the best kind of online lobby, a natural world that feels more like a gathering in a social space than watching the clock tick down in a boring text based lobby. I’ve noticed a lot of recent games trying to create dynamic online lobbies with expanded social features, and it will be fun to see if and how Clap Hanz expands on this in the future. The one thing that limits this is that the online courses are locked behind your single player progression.
Trying to turn the whole game into a psuedo-RPG has made for some frustrating aspects though. Certain power ups are locked behind having to find them around your home island each time you rank up, and the sparkles are aggravatingly difficult to see on the ground. Either make them easier to find, or just give me the power when I rank up, but don’t send me on some pointless scavenger hunt. It can also feel like there is an unfair advantage to those who have better gear and levels than you, but I see that as more of an incentive to keep playing and leveling up.
Everybody’s Golf feels in a lot of ways like a golf RPG. With open courses to roam, items to collect, and the ability to level up, it’s a spin on the traditional golf game that drives forward momentum like a perfect tee-off. There’s enough of an arcadey vibe that it stays accessible, while having plenty of nuance for skilled players to really hone in and have a lot of fun with it. Some minor issues come up with the RPG aspects forcing scavenger hunts for skills, but these really are tiny issues in the big picture. With a low barrier to entry and a high skill ceiling, charming design, and reasons to play for a long time, Everybody’s Golf really is golf for everybody. What? You were expecting a hole-in-one pun?
Everybody’s Golf review copy provided by developer. For more information on review scores, please read our Review Policy.