I was skeptical, I will be the first to admit it. I doubted I would be able to conjure the same joy I felt when playing one of my favorite video games of all time. I am not a great golfer by any stretch of any imagination, but I have a certain fondness for overly cute, golf characters, with whacky names, and the ability to chase their shot while sprinting over a lake, adjacent to any course. I religiously bought every Hot Shots Golf released for both the PlayStation One (PSOne) and the PlayStation 2 (PS2). There was just something intoxicating about the triple-click method, and getting the perfect shot.
Putting was always another matter entirely, as I always seemed to come up just short from sinking my putt. Could never quite figure that part out, as I trudged through four releases on both the PSOne and PS2. When I was readying myself to review another golf game, fond memories of those times gently nudged their way towards the surface. The name Clap Hanz sounded familiar, but I have played a lot of games over the years and brushed that familiarity aside.
The moment I booted up Clap Hanz Golf on my iPad, it instantly resonated with me. This was the same company that created Hot Shot’s Golf (Everybody’s Golf in both Asia and European countries, respectively), as evidenced by the menu layouts, the characters, and the “helpful” assistant who will audibly say two phrases, yet bombards you with a wealth of information in multiple walls of text. I sat in awe for a few moments, and let the thought sink in. I owned a PSP and did have the Hot Shots release titled Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee, and instantly realized that if I were to download this on my iPhone, I could play this everywhere!
Truth be told, I had downloaded other golf games from the App Store, yet they were always filled with paywall clubs, courses, or timer removers, that always catered to whales (players who spend copious amounts of cash to dominate a single game). I would play those for a few weeks and then be barred from progressing. All the while, longing to play Hot Shots Golf. All this analysis happened before I even swung my first club, sought my first green, or made my first birdie.
Immediately I jumped into the first Game Mode available, Tour, which is the traditional format for most golf games. Within, you usually select one golfer and help them rise through the ranks while playing tournaments. As the game progresses, you face tougher challenges, which are more difficult to win. Within Tour, Clap Hanz has altered this formula slightly and forces you to use a team of golfers, all with perceived bonuses to certain abilities. Some golfers are better in rough terrain, some are better putters, etc.
When you start your first Tour, they give you three golfers to use, and you are whisked away to your first course. The helpful assistant from before, kindly explains some of the finer points of golf, but all in all, it’s simple golfing goodness. For those unfamiliar with golfing, you start your shot slightly differently than past iterations. Before we would click the x button, to initiate the shot, tap x a second time to determine the power, and then tap x a third time to determine our accuracy on the shot. With touch devices (or controllers), they have skewed this experience to use swipe gestures or analog sticks. I felt I was more accurate on my phone with striking the ball, but then realized I was overzealous when using the analog sticks.
Once you have made your first hit, your character chases after the ball in a straight line, be it traversing rough terrain or even water, the cutesy graphics will bring a smile to your face. Once you got the ball on the green, you are able to attempt to put the ball in the hole. Putting is one of the most difficult things to master in the game (and real-life for that matter), and will make or break your score. Once you have completed the three holes in your first tournament, your results will be displayed. After completing tournaments within the Tour mode, your characters level up, which allows their inherent stats to increase (drive distance, accuracy, etc.). It is a very basic system, which is easy to follow, even for non-golfers.
Within Tour mode, you will continue to play tournaments, level up your golfers, and earn stars. Stars are earned for winning tournaments, and there are numerous inherent perks for winning tournaments. Randomly, other characters will appear on the map within Tour Mode. Defeating those golfers adds them to your team, for use in a variety of modes. If you lose to one of these characters, that will disappear but will show up again later. Boss modes are identical to the character battles, but Boss’ will not vacate the map until defeated. Within Tour mode, you can also take part in KP Battles, which allows you to earn cosmetics for your characters. At times, KP Battles may have alternative conditions, to further increase the difficulty.
One thing that differentiates KP Battles from normal tournaments within Tour mode, is that you are facing off against the same character (for instance the Mina on your team, will face a computer-controlled Mina). In addition, it isn’t typical golf, where you are trying to put the ball in the hole. Rather you have a set number of shots to get the ball as close to the hole as possible, as signified by the bullseye around the hole. You receive an average score for these hits, and the best average wins. It definitely mixes up the game and adds for a change of pace. KP Battles award experience and outfits for your golfers.
There are a few other game modes included, such as Score Attack, which is more akin to the traditional Hot Shots game, where you select one Character, and try to finish the nine-hole course, in the least number of strokes. World Tournament is where you compete against players from around the world, trying to achieve the lowest score possible. This is not a real-time event, rather your scores are posted upon completion of the event. Currently, the first tournament ran from May 21 – June 13, so we are unsure what the rewards will be, once the post-tournament rankings have been finalized.
Another feature, that I have yet to try is Local Multiplayer. It is great to see something like this on the Apple Arcade. We have the family Apple One plan, which includes Apple Arcade. Just think about that for a second, let it simmer. You can have then had up to five people playing in one tournament. The ability for someone to grab an iPhone, and play a quick round at their own pace, is an amazing opportunity. With the game recently having been released, there may be additional content in the future.
I thought of trying to play devil’s advocate, and offer strong counterarguments to why you should avoid playing this, or at least consider not playing it. I can’t. I even would go as far as to say I would have bought this title outright from the App Store if it was available. Clap Hanz Golf is available for the Apple Arcade. If you felt informed by this review, or at least entertained, be sure to check out more of our reviews on Otakukart.