And now it’s time for a little confession: I’ve never played a golf game. Not only have I never played a golf game on the computer or console, I’ve actually never “hit the links” or whatever the kiddies are saying these days. I don’t know the lingo, I don’t know the rules, and I’m pretty sure I can’t tell a driver from a wedge on a good day. So this review is coming from the perspective of a true and utter “newb”. So take this for what it’s worth: I actually rather enjoyed Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds.
There’s really not all that much to the game, truth be told. Players simply play round after round of golf. At the beginning, there are only two characters and a single course available for play, but after putting a few victories under one’s belt more and more options become available. And for a completist like me, this can be incredibly addictive. And strangely relaxing. Each character brings to the green their own strengths and weaknesses, some hit harder, some have finer control, some don’t like the rain. Playing with a character increases a “loyalty” value, giving even more bonuses (and insuring that players want to spend lots of time upgrading each and every one of the characters). Additional awards of different clubs and balls can further tweak the abilities of a given character until players find the perfect fit.
Out of Bounds offers two different styles of play, “Traditional” and “Advanced”. Since I’m not familiar with golf games in general, both were new to me. The traditional version features a horizontal power bar. Players tap a button to begin a swing, tap another to indicate how much oomph to give to the club, and finally another tap (hopefully with the correct timing) to launch the ball. This version is a bit more simplistic than the Advanced, but there’s a bit less accuracy of the strike zone. The Advanced version uses the character graphic in lieu of the power bar—a tap of the button initiates the swing, and players watch the club as it rises, indicating how much power is given. After a second tap, a targeting circle homes in on the ball, and players try to hit the button the instant the circle is centered completely. Too soon or too late, and the shot can be off. In addition, players can hit a directional button at the moment of the connection to give different types of slice or spin, depending on what sort of nuance is needed.
In addition to the swing itself, players need to decide which number club to use, and where to target the ball. Wind speed, lay of the land, and plenty of hazards spice things up. Out of Bounds does a nice job making the different terrains, slopes, and elevations have marked effects on the ball. Hitting a ball on an up-slope makes it go higher, catching more wind, while chipping a ball out of the sand trap can suck up much of the potential energy from a swing. I spent a lot of time chipping balls out of sand traps.
The courses themselves are nicely laid out, and they get progressively more and more evil. Players also are pitted against more and more difficult opponents as the game progresses, and it doesn’t take too long before a single mistake can cost an entire round. The different contests are a nice mixture of 9 and 18 holes, many with a special twist such as rain, extra-large holes, or lots of wind. New characters are gained through a one-on-one challenge round, winner of three holes takes the game. Online play is also available for those needing a human opponent to utterly humiliate them.
Graphically, things are pleasant to look at, and there are some pretty flashy effects for a game of golf. I found the music became repetitive fairly quickly, and the chatter was very annoying. Ignoring that, though, Out of Bounds was actually a very relaxing and surprisingly entertaining way to spend some gaming hours. I honestly can’t say how well it stacks up to other games in this genre, but for a complete newcomer to the series and to golf games in general, I had a rather good time. I’m still not sure this sort of game will ever be my cup of tea, but I do believe I’ll be coming back from time to time to shoot a round or two.