Developer: Clap Hanz
Medium: Vita Card / Digital Download
Players: 1 – 30
It doesn’t seem like it would be a Sony platform launch without a Hot Shots Golf game. The PS Vita is no exception as we are graced with Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational. You’re basically getting a portable rendition of Hot Shots Golf: Out Of Bounds from the PS3. There are all new courses here, a couple of other upgrades, and the obligatory Vita touch and tilt controls. What certainly hasn’t changed is the addictive nature of the series, as evidenced by my inability to put the game down much since launch.
The first thing you’ll notice as you bring the game launch screen up is daily international invitational tournaments. You get one round per day on a predetermined course, competing against everyone else in the world. It’s a pretty cool way to start each day with the game and see how you rank. All the other expected modes are here as well including practice, single round, challenge, and online. For most people, you’ll be spending the bulk of your time either in challenge mode or online competing against other players.
The challenge mode is a staple of the Hot Shots series. This is where you compete in offline tournaments, sometimes with special rules, and it progresses you through all the courses and difficulty levels. As you win tournaments, you unlock items in the shop as well as points to spend in the shop on those items. All the usually pieces of equipment are here such as Turbo Spin clubs and Power balls. These items increase (and decrease) your character’s stats as you equip them before each round.
Challenge mode is also where you face off against new Hot Shots characters and win the chance to unlock them as playable. The characters themselves are average at best for the series and I didn’t really find one that I loved in either appearance or ability. The one nice new thing on the Vita version is that you can unlock new outfits and customize their appearance by mixing and matching pieces and colors, similar to what was found in Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 for the PSP.
The gameplay is as solid as ever. As a golfer and golf fan myself, I still have yet to play another golf game that I enjoy the mechanics and physics as much as I do HSG. This time around there are multiple swing gauges to choose from. There’s the classic straight horizontal gauge and the HSG 5 advanced shot gauge (with the circular impact zone). World Invitational adds a curved gauge with three different impact zones, the classic, the circular, and a new arrow based impact zone. I’ve actually honed in on the arrow gauge and seem to get the most perfect impacts with it. The higher difficulty in World Invitational seemed to introduce itself a little sooner than in previous Hot Shots Golf games. For example, around the third tier of challenges, you are already dealing with high winds and extreme slopes on the course and greens.
Multiplayer has options for both Ad Hoc and online tournaments. I had a good time joining the lobby, with a lobby character that you can edit with items bought from the shop, and signing up for tournaments. They look like they run about every 15 minutes and there are a variety available, with different courses, rules, and restrictions (like only using certain characters). Everyone plays the hole at the same time, and you have a few seconds in between holes to type in a message to the rest of your tournament group. This is actually feasible with a great touchscreen and on-screen keyboard.
The graphics in Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational are also pretty amazing. It honestly looks like the PS3 version of Hot Shots scaled down onto a 5” screen on the go. I’ve felt that way about Hot Shots, Marvel, and Blaz Blue and I'm very impressed with the visuals of these launch games.
Like I said, the addictive quality of Hot Shots Golf is here in full force. It’s a perfect game for travelling because you can knock out a 9-hole challenge in no time, and there’s always new items in the shop that drives you play just one more round. Absolutely a great Hot Shots game, and absolutely a great game to pick up with your PS Vita.