Japanese developer Clap Hanz has been making colourful cartoon golf games for PlayStation consoles since 1999’s Hot Shots Golf 2. The studio’s first non-PlayStation game, Apple Arcade’s Clap Hanz Golf, is more of the same, only now all it takes for me to tee up is a few taps of my iPad screen.
Hot Shots Golf, Everybody’s Golf, Minna No Golf — whatever you call it, Clap Hanz’ brand of golf has a particular flavour that appeals to me greatly. I think it’s the combination of somewhat realistic golf physics and locations with quirky, anime-style golfers, a light-hearted take on a sport that takes itself very seriously. The series respects golf, while acknowledging that the whole thing is stodgy as hell and could use more confetti and special effects.
Clap Hanz Golf, released on Friday and free to Apple Arcade subscribers, is all of that plus a bag of chips (golf joke alert). In the game’s tour mode, players take on three-hole rounds, which is a nice quick game that works well on mobile devices. Rather than picking a golfer to play the whole set, each hole uses a different golfer from the player’s team of collectible anime sportspeople. For example, in the set I play in the video below, I start off with Fred Lopes Jr., then switch to the youthful and exuberant Taiyo Hoshino, and then finish off the third with somewhat nerdy Nathan Neill.
Each has their strengths and weaknesses and levels up independently through play. In the course of the campaign I battled rivals and bosses, adding them to my roster upon their defeat. It’s a collectible character golf game, only since it’s on Apple Arcade there are no microtransactions to worry about.
Players looking for a more traditional set of nine holes can play the game’s Score Attack mode, which has them selecting a single character and working their way through half a course. A full nine might be a bit much for a bathroom break, but fortunately the game lets you pause and pick up where you left off. And for those unfulfilled by golf unless it involves destroying the self-esteem of other people, there’s a local multiplayer mode.
I’ve been in love with Clap Hanz’s golf games for a decade and a half, so if you want an unbiased opinion of the appropriately-titled Clap Hanz Golf, you will not find one here. For the first time since 2012’s Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational for the Vita, I’ve got Clap Hanz in my pocket, and it feels pretty damn good.