I don‚Äôt understand golf. In fact, Mark Twain said it beautifully when he quipped that golf is ‚Äúa good walk, ruined.‚ÄĚ For a sport that involves whacking a white marble around a garden until it falls into a small hole, golf is insanely accompanied by million dollar sponsorships and egotistical worshiping. Even the caddies, who are employed to follow the ‚Äėsportsmen‚Äô around with golf-clubs and whisper something in their ear, seem to become local heroes.
In my opinion the only people who deserve recognition in golf are the TV cameramen. How the hell do they keep track of that tiny ball as it flies through the air? I have little respect for golf... and yet somehow, I am completely addicted to Everybody‚Äôs Golf.
Although the cutesy, Japanese-inspired cartoon characters and over the top animations may deter a lot of players, Everybody‚Äôs Golf is a surprisingly complex game. At its base, it features all of the gameplay elements of serious simulator titles like Tiger Wood‚Äôs Golf *insert year here*. You‚Äôll find the club selection, wind effects, weather conditions, backspin, topspin, bogeys, birdies, flop-shots, hazards, impediments, and aces here. But most importantly, Everybody‚Äôs Golf is fun. And highly addictive.
For those new to the sport, the game is bright, cheery and highly accessible. The two characters available at the start are both designed for beginners and are ideal to come to grips with the game. Although they sacrifice power and spin for control and accuracy, they‚Äôre upgradable to the point where you could use these first two characters to complete the entire game. For those who like to ‚Äėcollect them all‚Äô though, Everybody‚Äôs Golf includes plenty of other characters that each come with their own talents - such as expert spin or fairway-clearing power shots.
The basic but refined controls in Everybody‚Äôs Golf are where the magic is. Anyone with a bit of physics knowledge will soon be slotting the ball around the park like a pro. Lining up the angle of the shot is aided by a flag indicator on the ground that shows where the ball will land. Getting the ball to land exactly where you want it then comes down to you setting the power of the shot and then the accuracy of the shot in a two-tier meter system. Pressing X starts a power meter, pressing X sets the strength of your shot and then finally pressing X again at the point of impact determines how sweetly you hit the ball. It‚Äôs all a matter of timing.
Once you get the ball on the green, the gameplay changes slightly for the putting sequence. Again, the controls are simple button presses, but here it‚Äôs not about your sense of timing - instead it‚Äôs a matter of careful deliberation and patience. Players will be presented with a distance to the hole and a grid overlay on the green that indicates the slope. The back touch-pad can be used as an on-screen measuring tool that lets you know how far away and the height difference from your standing point. With a little practice, players will soon get into the swing of things (pun totally intended).
For anyone else who knows their eight iron from their sand wedge, you‚Äôll still find plenty of scope in Everybody‚Äôs Golf as well. Some of the later courses are incredibly challenging, throwing in treacherous slopes, bunker traps, water hazards and strong winds that can wreak havoc on your score. Different environments such as the sandy surfaces of an Egyptian themed course will affect your ball‚Äôs impact and bounce, requiring you to allow for the conditions at every hole. A Dutch inspired course will even have you curving shots between windmill blades and over cottage houses toward the green. Perfecting the use of spin, as well as reading the slope, will make the difference between an eagle and a club-hurling two over par.
Although the best club will be automatically selected depending on your situation, many times I opted for a different one to get a bit of extra distance against strong prevailing winds. Players will also be constantly unlocking new clubs and balls that all alter the way you attack a course with variations in power, spin and accuracy. As part of the ‚Äėfun factor 4000‚Äô, Everybody‚Äôs Golf even mashes it up with extra gameplay modes and modifiers. We‚Äôre talking extra large cups for easy putting (vice versa with extra small holes), challenge modes where opponents will have handicaps or special advantages, and even courses that prevent you from using spin.
When you‚Äôre not on the turf, the inner kleptomaniac in all of us ensures that the ridiculous number of unlockable costumes, clubs, balls accessories, and characters will keep you busy. You‚Äôll be amazed at how determined you‚Äôll get in trying to attain a stupid furry hat for your avatar. Or a new golf ball that looks like a tiny globe of the world. Players can even collect caddies as they progress, with the only advantage of hearing a different voice as you line up your shots. The amount of content in the Vita version exceeds anything we‚Äôve seen on previous PSP editions. The developers and Sony have even promised plenty of downloadable content too, including new characters and courses to try out down the track.
With all the other top-quality Vita titles to try (and limited moola), I know that Everybody‚Äôs Golf won‚Äôt appear on the radar for many. But I guarantee that many of you will be surprised at how many hours of enjoyment you‚Äôll get out of this game - and this is from someone who thinks golf is just a great way to get struck by lightning.