Minna no Golf (Hot Shots PSP) Impressions
I haven't played enough of Minna no Golf, also known as Hot Shots Golf, to review it, but I have put in enough time to give some impressions. Really the only thing you need to know is that it's Hot Shots through and through - it feels the same here that it does on the PS2, so if you dig it on the console, you'll have a decent time with it on the PSP. If you'd like to know more, then keep reading.
Hot Shots for the PSP has all of the features you'd expect, plus a few new additions. One of these is a putting game, which is really just a way to get you to practice your putting, but you can earn rewards and unlockables, so it's worth playing. The putting game lasts nine holes and lets you choose from two different putts at each hole. One is easy, and gets you ten points if you make it, and the other is twice as far away, but you get twenty points for draining it. There's a minimum score to beat for the nine holes, so if you're missing putts, you'll have to gamble and go after the more difficult ones in order to achieve the necessary score. It's simple, but it's a good diversion if you need to practice, or if you've only got five minutes to play.
The other new mode is wireless play, which I was unable to test, but still warrants a mention. It is similar to the PS2's online mode, and it's easy to set up, even though the menus are all Japanese. I set up a game, but I just sat in the lobby all alone, with nobody to play with. It was sad.
The graphics aren't as impressive as Ridge Racers' but they are still nice. The Hot Shots style is all there, the camera follows the ball in flight, and the characters all have their signature celebrations (or tantrums) after each whole. There are some glitches here and there, particularly some random odd pixels when the camera pans around near the ground. Once it quits moving, most of these irregularities go away, but it's still disappointing. Hopefully these are minor issues resulting from rushing to get the game out for the Japanese launch, and they will be cleaned up for the U.S. version.
Hot Shots has always had crappy music, and Minna no Golf continues that not-so-fine tradition. Bland, annoying and repetitive tunes play throughout the round, and while there might be a way to turn it off, I couldn't find it. The golfers still holler out all sorts of catch-phrases after a shot, but since they're in Japanese, they didn't do much for me either way.
All in all, Minna no Golf is an entertaining handheld version of Hot Shots Golf. If I sound a little unenthusiastic, it's because I've played the Hot Shots series to death, and there's not a whole lot new here so far. Once I am able to play it on the road, or while I'm bored on an airplane I'll likely appreciate it a bit more. Check back in a week or so for a full review of the game.
The final update of the weekend is still to come as I will be posting answers to your questions about the system. If you'd want to discuss the PSP further, or you have a question, post it here in our forums.
Check out previous updates in our series:
A look at the PSP's box.
Inside the PSP's menus.
A closer look at the UMD.
The Evolution of Sony.
PSP System Impressions.
PSP and Other Handhelds.
Ridge Racers Review.
12/19/2004 Aaron Thomas