TOKYO--Hot Shots Golf may be known by many names around the world (such as Mina No Golf and Everybody's Golf), but in any language the series has become a byword for humorous and accessible golfing action. The game has appeared on every Sony platform since the original PlayStation, so it was no surprise to see it announced for the PlayStation 3. With the game already being on sale in Japan, we were able to play the finished article ahead of the Tokyo Game Show, as well as talk to the game's developer.
The main thing to talk about is how the shot and putting systems have changed in this latest outing. Instead of being indicated by a bar, the shot power is now displayed with visual indicators on the golf club itself. Once you've chosen your club, the circle button will initiate the shot and your player will begin the swing. At the 50 percent power level, the end of the club will flash yellow, and at 100 percent it will flash red. By judging from these two indicators, you have to press circle again at the desired power level to take the shot. At this point, a target reticle will zoom in on the ball itself, and the idea is to press the circle button again just as it encapsulates it to ensure a straight shot.
We found the new shot system to be intuitive, and we had no trouble getting to grips with it from the very first shot. Thankfully, the special moves have been retained from previous games, allowing you to perform even more accurate shots than usual. You can also manually alter the trajectory of the shot at the last minute by hitting the target reticle at different times. For example, hit the button just before the reticle covers the ball and you'll pull slightly to the right, do it just after and you'll pull to the left.
The putting has also changed for the PS3 version, with a system that displays how far the ball will go at maximum power. Using this system, you have to judge how much to bring the putter back, as well as analysing the lay of the land to account for any changes to the shot trajectory. Again, it's a simple system to get into the swing of (if you pardon the pun), and we were soon finishing a number of holes with satisfying birdies.
Another new feature for the PS3 version is the ability to see a top-down and a display of the follow-up shots toward the hole. For example, you can now see how a different shot trajectory will theoretically impact on your follow-up shots to the hole, and this allowed us to figure out a few shortcuts on the holes we played. Technically, this is one of the most advanced features of the game, as it certainly isn't a graphical showcase for Sony's flagship console. Having said that, the game will support online multiplayer and downloadable content, although no official details have followed for either feature at this time.
The latest Hot Shots Golf looks to be shaping up nicely, and as this stage there's only localisation to be done in order to get the game released in the US and Europe. The last games in the series have gone down well with fans, and we remain hopeful that this one will do the same. We'll have more details on the game once Sony announces more official details post-TGS.