If there are any constants to Sony’s PlayStation console, one of them has to be Everybody’s Golf (also known as Hot Shots Golf). I’ve played Clap Hanz Limited’s fun and fancy-free golf games as far back as the PlayStation 2 and all the way through the PlayStation Vita and found them to be cheery and easy enough to get into. The franchise is a staple of the PlayStation brand and it’s no surprise to see it on the PlayStation VR. And you know what? The PlayStation 5 will probably have one too. I’d be worried if it didn’t! Everybody’s Golf VR is built on a fond and familiar foundation and carries the same celebratory and upbeat attitude towards the sport.
I tried real golfing once and the experience was embarrassing. It would take me three or four tries to hit the damn ball and my group of novices was stalked by a golf cart riding course monitor because we kept holding up other players. By the time we reached the last hole, my heart racing and shirt damp with sweat, I pledged to spare any future embarrassment and stick with video game golf. By virtue of their control mechanisms, golf video games are accessible to everyone. Hitting the ball involves coordinating button presses to control the power of the swing. More advanced games get trickier by shifting control over to the analog sticks to better simulate the experience of swinging a golf club. Thanks to buttons, analog sticks, and a symphony of on-screen indicators and aiming tools, maintaining consistent accuracy with drives and putts was pretty easy to achieve.
These crutches go flying out the window in VR because the ball’s trajectory lies primarily on your squared shoulders and slightly bent knees. The lack of old school quality of life features may be enjoyable to those kinds of players wanting the challenge of gaining 1:1 control of their golf swing. Others will wish for a button to snap their virtual clubs in half. The art of the golf swing in Everybody’s Golf VR takes practice to master.
There are two control options available, either with the PlayStation Move wand or the Dualshock controller. I’d strongly advise against the controller because it’s really awkward to use. I tried it out on a few holes and found the idea of swinging a controller with both hands to be unwieldy and unreliable. Besides, the Move wand is so much more fun and easier to use: press the Move button to address the ball and swing the peripheral just like you would a real club. Moving your arms with a measured force (the faster the swing, the more power behind it) and angling the club in the direction you want the ball to go just before the moment of impact affords better precision and accuracy over the DualShock. Just don’t expect to become the next Jack Nicklaus. Even with the Move, pulling off accurate swings with the right amount of power takes some getting used to and that goes double for the short game.
Everybody’s Golf isn’t an intense or overly sophisticated golf simulator, which is great! I actually find the series’ no-fuss, no-muss direction to be fantastic and less intimidating. This franchise, and the VR game is no different, is more concerned with getting you out onto the green with as few barriers as possible. That being said, courses and playable holes are limited at the start of the game which serves to incentivize continuous play. The most interesting thing I picked up on with Everybody’s Golf VR was how grown up it looks. The earlier games were defined by colorful characters, cartoon-like sensibilities, and pretty courses and this edition ditches cartoon mascots for realistic looking men and women and more down to earth recreations of their fanciful golf courses.
A hostess serves as your guide to the world of Everybody’s Golf VR and is quick to offer a polite bow, smile, and friendly attitude, all of which make for a distinctly Japanese vibe. Your caddie behaves the same way, only they have more opportunities to share their personality. There are multiple caddies to choose from and all are happy to sing your praises, offer encouragement, and give advice based on various conditions at any given time. Playing golf is a quiet experience, as I suppose it should be, but there’s no music outside of the ambient outdoor soundtrack nor are there any spectators to clap for your victories. The caddy’s presence on the green, then, is comforting, reassuring, and goes a long way to make the game feel less lonely.
Everybody’s Golf VR is not going to change the way people look at golf video games. Let Electronic Arts worry about that. Clap Hanz Limited hasn’t let me down in the past and the transition to virtual reality hasn’t compromised their unique vision for golf. With different gameplay options designed to suit quick or extended play, cosmetic goodies to earn, and multiple courses, Everybody’s Golf VR offers good value for its thirty dollar price tag. I was concerned about using the Move wand at first, knowing that certain VR games I’ve played before suffered tracking issues, but I had absolutely no problems here. And it’s way, way better than using the Dualshock. Sadly, the Move couldn’t help me with my own physical failings, meaning that many, let’s be real, all missed and failed swings were my fault. Everybody’s Golf VR is challenging and more physically demanding but is just as fun and spirited as any other game in the series.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.