Everybody's Golf (Hot Shots Golf)
| Everybody's Golf

Hello, my name is Will, and I am addicted to Everybody's Golf.

I didn't think I would be. Oh sure, I used to dabble in golf games as a child - who hasn't? I did a few shots of Links and Tiger back in the day, rolled over Mario Golf's luminous greens once in a while. Avoided Actua Golf.

But it was never serious - never long-term. Not like this.

Now I can't go to sleep without hitting a few rounds. I can't take a train without sliding the Vita into my bag, slyly taking a couple of shots in a packed carriage. I can't stop.

I've even started singing along to the faintly terrible guitar music on the main menu. I need help.

Let's play a round!

The reason for this sudden love of a golf game from someone who doesn't actually like golf that much is down to how well Everybody's Golf looks and plays.

Every shot feels like a celebration, with colourful words dropping down from the top of the screen, an hilarious sterotyped caddie shouting words of encouragement, and small woodland creatures on the fairway fleeing from the incoming ball o' doom.

To start off with, the game feels like it looks - a fairly easygoing arcade take on a genre that often takes itself more seriously than its avian-obsessed terminology suggests.

Hitting the ball is simply a case of timing your button-presses for the first two control methods available (of five in total), while spin is applied by holding the respective direction on the D-pad while taking a shot.

Indeed, you could theoretically never progress past this level of commitment and understanding - Everybody's Golf plays just fine as a simple swing-and-hit game with its auto club selection and useful putting advice.

But the constant drip-feeding of more advanced tactics from the loading screens (which are resigned purely to the start of a course) will soon filter into your play.

By the time you've clocked up two hours on the greens and fairways you'll be plotting shots with the same level of concentration as in any 'serious' golf game.


It's around this point that Everybody's Golf's colourful exterior peels back to reveal some seriously clever physics and mechanics at play.

Yes, there are special 'power shots', and if you hit the pin under certain conditions you'll be treated to a fantastically silly 'homing shot' that sends the ball pinging into the hole as if it were attached to a magnet.

But you'll need to gauge the lay, the flight path, the angle, the wind, and a whole host of other factors before this happens.

Playing a shot may be easy, but scoring an Albatross can take hours and hours of practice. As a result, great shots are incredibly satisfying when you do finally pull them off. Even I - a fairly quiet commuter - found myself shouting 'Get In!' inside a packed train carriage when I scored a 150-yard Eagle.

Even better, every chip in birdie or better is automatically saved to the Vita, meaning I was still shouting 'Get In!' when I got back home that evening. Disappointingly, though, while you can write-protect the recordings you can't then share them with, say, Pocket Gamer's handheld editor Peter Willington to gloat about your hole-in-one on the Al Arabian course.

Pitch perfect

Getting to that level of skill is rarely frustrating, thanks to one of the best single-player structures I've seen in any golfing game (bar earlier Everybody's Golf titles, of course).

The main bulk of play takes the form of one round nine-hole and 18-hole tournaments against opponents that exist only as marks on the leaderboard.

But these opponents are tied to your progress, so if you've done extremely well but find yourself slapping in a triple-bogie on the last hole, everyone else will suddenly mess up their shots too.

Sometimes it feels a little too welcoming - I've won tournaments with three over par before thanks to messing up right at the start and holding par for the rest of the tourney - but, most importantly, it never feels unfair.

Every shot adds to your points total, too, which you can use to unlock extra items and earn trophies on top, meaning that even when you do hit a brick wall on the harder tournaments you're always working to unlock extra characters or equipment that can help turn the tide.

If things really get desperate, Everybody's Golf will even subtly introduce an 'easy mode' for you to activate, which reduces opponents' scores but doesn't stop you earning the same rewards as better players.

Hail to the king

The feature-packed single-player mode is extended with the addition of 'Crowns' - super-hard special conditions for each tournament that only reveal themselves after completing the game.

These conditions, which include constantly hitting GIR or never touching the rough - are a superb way of extending the playing time of the game, especially if you want to gun for all the trophies.

Also adding to the lifespan of the title beyond simply changing the tee position on each of the six courses is the Daily Tournaments - three different tourneys that give you one shot at placing on the global leaderboards

Add to this an ad-hoc and online lobby-based multiplayer mode, complete with an adorable avatar that has more unlockable customisation parts than even ModNations Racers, and you've got literally hundreds of hours of game time for your money.

Even without all those extra modes, Everybody's Golf is that rarest of things - a game that manages to be fun for beginners, advanced players, and even people who don't actually like golf that much.

You've probably dabbled with a good walk spoiled in the past, but you're unlikely to have played anything as good as this before.

Everybody's Golf (Hot Shots Golf)

A superb golf game that's extremely easy to pick up yet as deep and complex as any ‘serious’ game, Everybody’s Golf is the must-have Vita launch title