Sony's golf series, known as Hot Shots Golf in North America and Minna no Golf (Everybody's Golf) in Japan, has been though four different installments on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Now, with the system finally hitting Japanese store shelves, it's time for the PSP to get a turn. Hot Shots Golf on the PSP is very faithful to the series, delivering the same sort of easy-to-pick-up gameplay that has made the series fun and friendly since 1998.
The single-player modes in Hot Shots are broken up into a few different ones. You can play a standard 18-hole game of golf on one of six courses using one of 10 different golfers, though at the start of the game, only two golfers and one course are unlocked. The game lets you build these characters up in another mode, where you'll make improvements to skills like power, control, spin, impact, and sidespin. You can also unlock new hair, clothing, and accessories for your golfers in another mode.
A detailed records system tracks your performance on the game's six courses on a round-to-round basis, which lets you see if your short game needs work or if you're spending too much time in the rough. There's also a replay mode in the game, which is pretty cool because it automatically saves your more impressive shots, like the wicked 8-iron shot we dropped in the cup for an eagle from 121 yards out.
The gameplay in Hot Shots Golf is about as standard as a golf game can get. You start your swing with a button press, mark off your shot power with a second press, then lock in your shot accuracy with a third press. The game gives you a good idea of where your shots will land with each club, making club selection a breeze. You can also give your shots a little extra boost, which can come in handy, but you can only use these supershots a set number of times per round.
The visuals in Hot Shots Golf aren't too far off from those found in the PlayStation 2 offering. The game is bright and colorful, and the large-domed golfers are all very expressive, especially when you complete a hole. While some of the game's textures look slightly blurry up close, for the most part, Hot Shots looks strikingly sharp.
The voice work is all in Japanese, but like other games in the series, you can select from different caddie voices. Additionally, the music is as up-tempo and bubbly as you'd expect from a game with superdeformed characters.
Hot Shots Golf sticks pretty closely to the blueprint drawn by the previous entries in the series, but this entry just happens to run on a system that will fit in your pocket. Anyone looking for a golf game should find a lot to like here.