EVERYBODY’S GOLF, developed by Clap Hanz, Ltd., is an arcade-style golf game, and it is honestly one of my favorite games of 2017. Why am I talking about this game now, considering it released last year? Well…

2017 was an absolutely colossal year for gaming. Between the Nintendo Switch and games like HORIZON: ZERO DAWN and PERSONA 5, I was more than satisfied. 2018 has rolled around and, honestly, this year seems much slower than its predecessor in regards to games.

Games like NI NO KUNI II, which is finally out, the long-awaited KINGDOM HEARTS III, and the new SUPER SMASH BROS. are all on my radar for this year, but I think those are the only major releases I’m looking forward to playing. There are more games than the household names, though!

Lots of great lesser-known games must be coming out this year, I’ve just yet to hear of them. This got me thinking of all the smaller or indie-developed games I played last year, and boy, were there a lot of them. EVERYBODY’S GOLF is truly a hidden gem.

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Teeing Off — A Brief Introduction:

EVERYBODY’S GOLF, the seventh main entry in the EVERYBODY’S GOLF (formerly known as HOT SHOTS GOLF, stateside) franchise, marks the series’ 20th anniversary. I had HOT SHOTS 3 and FORE for the PlayStation 2 — they were two of my favorite games growing up. Recently, I had the urge to play these games again, so I watched some YouTube videos, perused the series’ custom Wiki, and almost broke out my old PS2. The reveal for EVERYBODY’S GOLF certainly came at the right time.

I first saw the trailer for EVERYBODY’S GOLF on the show floor of E3 2017. I thought to myself, “hey, this looks like HOT SHOTS. It even has the same graphics as the PS2 games!” I luckily moved past my initial graphical criticisms and purchased the game, albeit a few months after its August release.

I bought EVERYBODY’S GOLF during a rather rough patch of my life. On top of the stresses of graduating college and applying to grad school, my precious cat of fifteen years, Rex, passed away. This honestly shook my world to its core — I did not even want to leave my apartment. I finally purchased GOLF after months of debating it in an attempt to give myself a much-needed shot of nostalgia-induced happiness. This absolutely worked.

Opening Ceremony — Starting EVERYBODY’S GOLF:

EVERYBODY’S GOLF put an ear-to-ear grin on my face as soon as I started the game and watched the opening music video. The song played, titled Clap Your Hands, is so upbeat and catchy; the acapella build up got me eager to hear more. I thought to myself, “This song CAN’T be written by Owl City, can it? The same Owl City that I grew up with?” Well, to my surprise, it most certainly was!  This spontaneous Owl City performance in tandem with clips of the gameplay that I was always so fond of simply made me happy — all of my sadness instantly washed away. This elation carried over through the rest of my golf career.

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Arrival on Golf Island:

Post-Owl City, the player arrives on Golf Island — EVERYBODY’S GOLF’s hub world. I instantly noticed two glaring differences from past games in the series, the first of which is Golf Island itself. This game actually has a hub! While the island is small, players can access all game modes from here, go fishing, or even take a joyride in a golf cart (or a downloadable Chocobo!!). Golf Island is nothing to write home about, but it is a successful diversion from the constant stream of golf gameplay. The second change is one I was initially wary of.

The first task EVERYBODY’S GOLF has the player complete is to customize their own character. Gone are the diverse rosters to choose from. I wanted to play as Regis the talking dog or Z the robot — in HOT SHOTS GOLF FORE you even had the option to play as Ratchet and Clank or Jak and Daxter! The option to solely play as a normal human seemed like a downgrade, the key word being “seemed.” I quickly grew to love this character creator.

Everybody's golf jak and ratchet
Two familiar faces, Jak and Ratchet, appear in HOT SHOTS GOLF FORE.

I spent a good chunk of time initially creating Spencer the Golfer. I gave him as similar of a haircut and glasses to myself as I possibly could, and completed the look with a goofy smile and tired-looking eyes. My main concern with the character creator was that Clap Hanz would not put much effort into it.

This worry instantly dissipated; I constantly unlocked new clothing and other items. My favorite article of clothing is a pair of “Tims,” Timberland boots; I always rock them to show that I am a true New Yorker. GOLF’s creation system is surprisingly deep. Despite my initial reaction, it became one of my favorite parts of the game.

EVERYBODY'S GOLF character customization
EVERYBODY’S GOLF’s character customization screen, featuring the player in New York’s footwear of choice.

Now that we’re all set up, let’s get to some golfing.

The Front Nine — The Gameplay:

EVERYBODY’S GOLF has the same exact gameplay as earlier entries in the series. The player lines up a shot then presses X at a certain time to gauge the power, and then again to determine the impact. The game does get more complicated, though: Seasoned players must consider wind speed, the type and slope of the terrain, and putting a spin on the ball, but a beginner is equipped enough just knowing the basics. I know I didn’t pay attention to all of the intricacies as a kid!

EVERBODY’S GOLF has a low skill floor and a very high skill ceiling — it allows the game to be truly accessible by anyone. I have played GOLF with multiple friends who had never played a game in the series. While all of the graphs and diagrams initially overwhelmed my friends, they all got a grasp of the game and rapidly improved (though I purposely “forgot” to explain some cool tricks just to show off).

That’s all there really is to be said about the gameplay. It’s just golf, you either love it or you hate it. There are a handful of 18-hole courses that all vary greatly in design to golf on, but the gameplay boils down to getting the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. While this does seem like it would get boring, there are a variety of game modes to keep the player interested.

EVERYBODY'S GOLF GAMEPLAY
The player getting ready to swing on one of EVERYBODY’S GOLF’s diverse golf courses.

The Back Nine — The Game Modes:

Like most competitive games, EVERYBODY’S GOLF has a single player campaign and an online mode, where players can freely practice or compete in tournaments. I spent a large majority of my time completing the career mode, playing very little online. I later came to regret this decision, but we’ll get back to that.

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Career Mode:

Career mode follows the player’s custom character as they rise the ranks on Golf Island. This mode is a large part of the reason that I liked having my own custom character. I, Spencer, played golf, not some random character. I got attached to Spencer the Golfer as I watched him climb the ranks, an attachment I never felt to the characters of past games.

There is an overarching story to follow, but it is honestly not important. Basically, rival golfers catch wind that the player is on the rise, and sequentially challenge the player to one-on-one rounds. The incentive of playing career mode is that it is the quickest way to unlock customization items and the only way to unlock other golf courses.

These rewards are gifted to the player very often. This reward system is a necessity as the career mode is LONG. I am unsure of how long I actually played, but completing the mode probably took me over 20 hours. I definitely would not have stuck around if not for the constant unlocks.

Online Mode:

EVERYBODY’S GOLF’s online mode is potentially just as beefy as the career mode, it all comes down to how much the player wants to perfect their game. Players can compete in the global rankings for either individual holes or whole courses. On top of this, GOLF has the occasional “International Tournament,” in which competing grants the player rare items. This mode is for players who care about leaderboards; I am definitely not this type of player. Sure, I tried to get high rankings on some holes, but I’d much rather play career mode.

EVERYBODY'S GOLF Hole-in-One
I may have tried ranking highly on a *few* holes.

Custom Clubs:

Earlier, I mentioned that I regretted spending most of my time in the career mode. This is due completely to the custom golf clubs. Completing rank 6 of career mode grants access to these shiny, golden clubs. Players are capable of getting hole-in-ones on par 5 holes with these — why would I be upset about finally getting my hands on them?

Well, the custom clubs don’t start out too strong; gems are required to upgrade them to their full potential. My gem count was tiny at this point because they are obtained by playing the online modes… or more easily through microtransactions.

EVERYBODY'S GOLF custom clubs
Custom Clubs: The one blemish on an otherwise good game.

Not being able to use a fully-powered custom club after playing for hours and hours was a real slap in the face. I already spent so many hours playing the career mode; the last thing I want to do is spend countless more hours gathering gems online. The option to buy gems is there, but I’m definitely against that.

I completed the lengthy campaign, I am not going to pay actual money to get my full reward. Clap Hanz definitely expects too much of the player in regards to custom clubs; custom clubs should start at maximum power, or there should be a way to obtain gems in single player. I guess you can say that Clap Hanz can definitely use a “mulligan” on that one.

Closing Ceremony — The Verdict:

EVERYBODY’S GOLF is a good game, though it primarily appeals to a niche market of gamers who are at all interested in golf. The gameplay is fun either alone or with friends, there are tons of ways to dress the character, and there are many locales to play on.

I absolutely hate the implementation custom clubs, but that’s honestly my only problem with the game. If you’re debating picking up EVERYBODY’S GOLF after reading this article, I absolutely recommend doing so… but maybe not play it to the extent I did to avoid any frustration and disappointment.

EVERYBODY’S GOLF is just the first of 2017’s hidden gems I’m taking a look at. Stay tuned for the next article, where we’re going to take a look at a sampling of smaller indie games.

One Comment

  1. Jonathan

    April 1, 2018 at 3:52 am

    Get out of town! I love Good Golf games! t woods golf was my favorite

    Reply

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