[Review] Everybody's Golf for PS4
More like Somebody's Golf
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro
Developer: Clap Hanz
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Everybody's Golf (EG) is a name that's not too familiar to people outside of Japan, as in the U.S. this title has typically been called "Hot Shots Golf." With their newest title in the series developer, Clap Hanz decided to keep their Japanese title, internationally. With the new name, come some new additions, that for me, make the game feel more or less disjointed and jumbled.
Typically, a new mode brings excitement, but in the case of Everybody's Golf, it brings nothing but confusion. The game feels split like two different teams or companies broke the game up and took their respective approaches at their specific mode and then fumbled trying to piece them back together. On one side you have the career mode, a simple, run of the mill mode where players compete against computer players and climb the ranks, earning coins and unlockables. On the other side, you have an "open" world, or course, where players can run around collecting hidden coins, drive golf carts and play other players. The problem is that these two modes feel to separated. After playing it for a few hours, I realized, there's no reason why these two things should be ripped apart and force the player to exist in a "hub" that allows them access one or the other.
When players first log into Everybody's Golf, you're annoyingly met with a theme song that sounds like a bad cover of Miley Cyrus and like any new game, you're forced to go through the introduction on how to play, what modes there are, and how to access modes and games. This is where things started off poorly. Clearly, this is a Japanese-centric game, I get that, seriously. But Clap Hanz hired "some" Americans to do voice work, but not a complete translation, merely one or two random words here and there. For example, when a new dialogue box starts off, the NPC might say, "Oh Yeah" but the sentence might read, "If you're interested in playing in a career match, head over to the event tent." That's just one example, as minor as that may sound, when you're reading tons of text and the NPC keeps spitting out random English words that make no sense, you begin to wonder why they just didn't have them read the words the NPC spells out to the player via text. It would make more sense and require less reading, or just cut the American voice altogether and just go 100% text-based. The voice acting and confusion continues on the course too, when about to tee off, a female Japanese voice (in English) will say, Hole 1. But a different, female American voice will immediately follow and say, it's a Par 4. It's all very confusing and makes for a disjointed experience.
The game also can annoy you with voice-overs, especially after sinking a putt. You'll hear NPC players in the background say things like, "way to go," "your the best," "I wish I was like you." EG is way too complimentary to players, to the point where it's annoying. Worst of all, you can't turn them off.
This all stems from the way that EG is set up, you don't just walk up to a tee box and tee off by yourself. Instead, there are already three other computer characters there and you need to squeeze in between them. This may be a staple of Hot Shots but to any golf fan or fan of EA's games or other semi-serious golf games, this is chaotic, not fun. When trying to putt, if another NPC player is close to you, they'll just start going, sometimes blocking your view. This is both frustrating and annoying. This "everyone's hitting at the same time feature," also makes for some unusual celebrations. When I sunk a putt, my avatar jumped up and thrust out his hips, right as another female character bent down to get her ball from the hole. The "freeze frame" it captured was slightly inappropriate, but also very amusing.
As for the online component, well, it's just an open 9 hole course that allows players to "free run" from hole to hole. You can start a series of nine holes or just play one. Players can also commandeer a golf cart and drive around like wild idiots. Fun, yes, but it gets old. During my review I came across two players online, one named "Mr. Razor" and a "female" Japanese player, who's name was all Japanese symbols, and seeing how I can neither write or speak Japanese, I have no idea what her actual name was. Neither player paid me any attention, despite my incessant clapping for them, at three holes, trying to get a reaction.
It's abundantly clear these two modes are underdeveloped and disconnected. They should have been one, which would have eliminated the "hub" world. To nail that point home, you'd think that your accomplishments online would transfer over to your single-player experience, but they don't. Further illustrating that these two modes are completely devoid of each other's existence.
While there are tons of unlockables and customization options, EG lacks a variety of golf courses, as it only has five of them, each with only 9 holes. In order to make up for their lack of content, the developers try to pass off "mirrored" or reverse courses as new ones." But in the end, you're just left with the same environments over and over.
I realize up until this point I've had a lot of harsh things to say about Everybody's Golf, but I feel completely justified. That being said, there are a few good things I'd like to point out. The actual golfing, or swing mechanics, are very sound and feel rewarding when you hit a great shot. I've always been a fan of the "3-button" swing. Across the bottom of your screen, you'll have a meter that goes from 0 to 100. You press X (1) to start and meter slides left and you can stop it anytime by pressing X again (2) for the amount of power you want, then the meter goes back to the beginning. Here you have to hit X again (3) to make it land on the start point as closely as possible. Too far to the right or left and your swing will be off and you'll either hook or slice the ball. This method has always felt better to me, than the flicking of the right thumbstick like Links or EA's Golf Series.
The leveling up is well done too. Rather than just have your character level up as you do well overall, your individual skills level up. For example, if you use a driver more than a 3 Wood you'll have more power and controller with the driver. If you start to use backspin on your ball more often, you'll increase your skill there too.
As I briefly mentioned, there are tons of unlockable items to further customize the look of your avatar. Everything from sunglasses, shorts, hats and golf gloves. There are tons of colors for each shirt too. With each win you'll unlock even more items to purchase, so looking unique, won't be a problem.
This last one is sort of two steps forward, one step back, as the environments in EG also look great, they are very detailed, bright and crisp. But they contrast harshly with the characters you play. Your character and those around you look like a cross between a Nintendo Mii and Xbox 360/One avatars. They have such plain, flat features, and lack any real detail, but yet exist in such lush environments, it's really odd.
Everybody's Golf is somebody's golf and by somebody, I mean children. I'm not saying adults can't enjoy this game, but I feel like an adult's mature demeanor will get in their way. Children are more forgiving and will like the constant reassurance from computer players, they'll like the fun, cutesy player models and the options of riding around in golf carts online. Parents also won't have to worry about them talking to odd strangers online, since players can only use designated, pre-written responses. The golf mechanics are simple to learn and difficult to master, giving them infinite replay value, just as long as they don't get bored with the skim course selection.
I do need to warn adults who have children, however, as there are in-game purchases in EG, so be weary or protective of your account.
Overall, Everybody's Golf can be a fun game, but I think they painted too broad of a picture by claiming it's "Everybody's Golf." Personally, I would have left it as Hot Shots and called it a day.
At $39.99, I have a hard time recommending this to anyone who doesn't have kids and even then, I'd say wait for a black Friday sale or whenever the game drops to $19.99