As the best selling title during the Japanese Vita launch, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational must have some kind of spark, right? That spark, as it turns out, is very simple. It's just well executed arcade golf.
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational doesn't have many bells or whistles, offering a tried-and-true arcade golf experience on the go. There are several avatars to characters to choose from, lots of clubs, balls and other goodies, all of them unlockable with points earned from matches. There are several challenges available, traditional stroke play, training mode (retake all the shots you want) and a few multiplayer options.
There are a few features that take advantage of the Vita's unique capabilities, though few of them seem terribly useful. There's a nearly-unusable camera control button on the touch screen. Upon pressing it, you can then drag your finger to several camera modes, including a nifty -- but completely useless -- option that lets you rotate the camera from a first-person perspective using the Vita's motion sensor. The one usable touch screen feature allows players to view and adjust the intended landing spot for any given shot. Dragging the icon around will also automatically select the appropriate club for the desired distance.
Beyond the usual single-player offerings, local Wi-Fi multiplayer is available for up to eight players. There is a daily online tournament as well. Tournaments are downloaded and played offline and, once complete, players can upload their score to see how they rank. There's also an online lobby system, allowing players to text chat with customized avatars and join scheduled online tournaments. Be warned that these require an online connection, so you'll have to make it through every hole in one sitting -- pressing the PS Home button or putting the Vita to sleep will cause a connection error.
Beyond the extra features, the core game is simple, satisfying arcade golf. There are a few different meter options, though all of them boil down to shot power and angle. Which meter you choose to use is really a matter of personal preference. The shot mechanics are solid, and making a great shot or sinking the unlikely chip-in Birdie is just as rewarding as you would expect, and it's made all the more so with "BIRDIE" popping up in big, friendly letters and showers of confetti filling the screen.
Each hole only requires a minute or two to complete, making Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational perfect for pick-up-and-play sessions. For a quick, casual fix, it's definitely worth a shot (or two).
This Snapshot is based on a retail copy of Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational for the PlayStation Vita, provided by Sony.
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is available via retail for $40 or via PSN for $36.