Hot Shots Golf Review

By: John Doe

"Mark Twain once said, "Golf is a good walk, spoiled." Hah! He should have had a PlayStation." wrote to me a few days ago and said, "When we got around to playing (HotShots Golf) we were surprised. We couldnít stop playing it. We found ourselves yelling and shouting back taunts at one another and laughing at the unfortunate player who totally screwed up a shot. This game really deserves a chance!" So, I figured I was missing out on all of the fun. So, it was off to the rental store for a chance to hit the super-deformed links.

You see, took the time to send me an email and tell me how much he and his friends loved Hotshots Golf, even though they kind of think the real game of golf is a tad Lame-O. From the sounds of it, they really got into the game and had a blast. You see, people, this is the kind of email Iím looking for. Give me something to work with. Throw me a bone, if you will. Too many of you have sent emails that were nothing more than requests for specific game prizes. I didnít say all of the prizes were games, and I certainly didnít say that you could start requesting games. Do you know how many people just demand I send them Banjo-Kazooie? Try the Make A Wish Foundation. Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled review already in progress.

I am not a golfer. I have been to the driving range. I slice left-handed. I canít say I swing that way because that would indicate Iíve actually hit the ball in a straight line. My wife golfs. Her entire family does. Iím an oddity to them. However, Iím an expert at video golf, and could kick their collective asses with nary a sweat. (BTW, thatís a big lie. My wife cleaned my clock after agreeing to a nine hole match. But I had a reflection on my side of the TV that made playing impossible!) Thatís not important though. The important thing is that she actually played a video game with me. Not since Parappa (and the occasional Tekken 3 fight) has she picked up a controller. (Please donít ask who wins most of the time in Tekken 3...I pick characters Iím not familiar with to give her a chance, okay? She gets lucky.) This is something folks. Since golf appeals to both sexes, HotShots Golf may be the missing link of video games to finally close the gap between the male obsession and female neglect and general dis-interest of video gaming. Or not. These theories are easily debunked, you know.

The one thing I noticed about HotShots Golf, is that itís a lot like the only other golf game Iíve ever played; Arnold Palmer Golf on the Genesis (circa 1989). How different is video game golf going to get? You select your player, you select your course (maybe), you select your club, you check the wind, you press the button once to activate the power of the stroke and again to start the swing, and voila! Into the water-trap it goes! Yay!

As far as HotShots Golf goes, it really is a lot of fun. My wife had fun. I had fun, however our on-screen counterparts looked suicidal. I was pretty happy getting a bogey (1 stroke over par) but poor little Taku looked like he had disgraced his entire ancestry. Give yourself a break little man! Mary falls to her knees with such defeat it was embarrassing already. I think if you get a double-bogey she pulls out a sword and commits Hari-Kari, or she might give Yaku a "Loreena Bobbit Special" finishing move.

The animation is one area where I think HotShots Golf is a tad lacking. The courses look fantastic. Lush tree-lined courses complete with mosquitoes even. Hell, this IS true to life. But the stock animationís of the characters at the end of a round are pretty poor. Really 16 bit-like. The crowd noise afterwards too is a really quick sample that sounds like someone clearing their throat. Overlook this though, because it really has no bearing on the game-play itself. The animationís of the golf swing look realistic and thatís what counts.

Some nice options are included, such as viewing the entire course. You can take a fly over the course and check out what lies ahead and where the putting green is. A simple push of the R2 button will take you back to the behind the player view at the tee. Once your ball is on the putting green, you can check out the elevation of the land. Are you putting uphill or down? This feature really helped out a lot.

There are 6 courses to chose from, which are opened by earning experience points during golf games. For example, 50 experience points will open Course 2. 250 points opens Course 3. Course 5 requires 2, 350 points. Ouch. Better have Tiger Williams over for a night. The courses are old standards: The Forest Level, The Water Level, The Sand Level, The Ice Level, the Haunted Mansion Level, oh wait, Iím talking about Banjo-Kazooie... The experience point method of course selection ups the ante and makes the game a real challenge. You really feel like you have accomplished something when you reach level 2 or 3 or more. However, letís not go overboard. You are still sitting on your ass, in the basement, in front of the TV on a hot summer day, so really youíve accomplished nothing. Since four of your friends can play, you can all get nothing done together!

HSG even offers a mini golf mode where you can practice your putting. Donít be expecting wacky clowns with moving body parts to shoot through though. Itís strictly for putting practice. Itís good solid extra that could have been left out, so be a bit more appreciative, okay?

This game is one of those party games. Invariably, even the least interested member watching wants to try out HotShots Golf. Itís addicting and frustrating and great all at once. Just like real golf, so Iím told. I highly recommend a try out of this game. Itís definitely a three night rental, if not an instant purchase if you are a fan. I think said it best, "Please check it out if you have not played it yet...put all of your fears of golf aside and go play it!" Amen brother and uh.....FORE!

Final Analysis:

Rating Legend 1-10 (10 being the highest mark)
Graphics: 8.5
Control: 7.0 (I actually found the button presses to be delayed)
Music/FX: 5.0
Innovation: 8.0 (Some good golf game ideas at work here)
Replayability: 10.0
Frustration 5.0: (Easy to learn, a lifetime to master)
Longevity: Itíll be a party game for good long time.
Rent or Buy: Rent first if you are unsure.

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