You scratched my anchor!
Sounds of success. Sometimes the noise of percussion is all it takes to elicit the feelings of victory. The pop of a champagne cork. The bell on a Test Your Strength machine. I'd like to add the "TING" of a golf ball hitting the bottom of the cup in Everybody's Golf to that list. We've had no shortage of excellent sports games this year, but no other has had me leaping from my sofa and punching the air in victory like when that "TING" echoes around my room.
Sometimes it's the little things that carry a game along. When you are a golf game, perhaps the little things are the only places you can excel and stand out from the crowd. From the excellent sound design (TING!) to the way the game can completely change the way you have to play a hole due to weather, Everybody's Golf is about the details. Good thing there is a lot of attention to detail here.
This may sound alien to golf fans, or people that haven't played this franchise - but a match can be incredibly intense. The satisfaction felt from overcoming a particularly difficult lie, or sinking a must-win putt is as explosive as scoring a last minute goal in FIFA. I'm not a golf fan myself, but there is joy to be found in a title that doesn't take the sport too seriously, but takes itself very seriously as a game.
Everybody's Golf demands your attention. Demands that you learn. From being able to select the right clubs for a shot, to anticipating wind direction and reading the slope of a green - the game will punish you if you don't make becoming an expert your goal. That may sound daunting, but the game does a great job of slowly introducing systems and mechanics one stage at a time.
Thrown into a career, you play on a simple course with the game accurately selecting an appropriate club for you. AI opponents are easy, the wind is gentle, the greens are flat. To progress, you finish tournaments, defeat boss characters and unlock new complications. Clubs that boost your power, but hamper your accuracy and vice versa. Special moves that give you extra spin, with the risk of mishitting the ball completely. There is a constant to-and-fro of risk vs reward - with risks absolutely necessary to keep above the pack.
While progressing, your character will level up, increasing their stats across the board. Using clubs more often makes you more proficient at using them and performing certain feats like landing close to the hole, or skilfully applying backspin, make you better at doing so in the future. It all leads to an immensely satisfying game of progression, improving as your career matures.
Wanna make 12 dollars? The hard way?
My main criticism is that the career holds your attention for too long. Perhaps through fear of players without an internet connection having nothing to do, it detracts from letting you jump into the excellent online modes. You could boot the game and hop online if you wanted, but your level and club skill is persistent between the offline and online modes. With the career by far the quickest way to level up, you won't be wanting to face experienced players online in a hurry.
When you do make it though, the rewards are great. Daily online challenges will give you cosmetic rewards for your character, which are more meaningful than they sound, thanks to the game's fun art style and detailed character creation system. There are lots of celebrities and cartoon characters recreated online for you to take a look at, from talented creators.
The online gameplay itself is made more of a giggle by the fact that thousands of players are all participating on the course at the same time. Balls are flying all over the place, like streamers or fireworks, while players literally run around between holes, or scoot about in their golf buggies. This all sounds like a huge distraction for a sport that demands such concentration, but the game cleverly pauses time as you take a swing, allowing you to focus on whats in front of you.
In summary, Everybody's Golf is a wacky take on a golf sim, with fun graphics, great sound design and a deep career mode. For those that choose to venture beyond and go online, you will find endless challenges to compete in every day, in what is the closest we will get to a golf MMO on console. Now, excuse me while I pop online and try to earn that white lucha mask for my character.