It’s always nice to see something a little different in the minis store, and Let’s Golf! is certainly a welcome addition to the current crop of games. Even if golf games aren’t usually your cup of tee (sorry!), you’ll probably still find a lot to enjoy here, and the game certainly has that all-important minis pick-up-and- play-ability factor.
The game features four locations – Fiji, England, USA and Scotland, all of which have their own graphical and musical themes, such as a funky bagpipes tune for the Scottish courses, and lots of palm trees and sandy beaches for Fiji.
Four gameplay modes are available from the main menu – Instant Play, Hot Seat, Tournament and Free Hole. In Instant Play you play three random holes, and have access to four characters, all of whom have different Power, Accuracy, Recovery and Putting stats.
In Hot Seat mode you can take turns to play against another person and compete to get the best score on the scorecard. Free Hole mode is where you can choose from all four locations, all difficulty levels, all holes and all players in an attempt to improve your score. You’re not playing against any other AI or human opponents.
Tournament mode is essentially the main gameplay mode if you’re looking for more of a challenge. There are initially only two locations available – Fiji and England – and only two out of four characters available to play. Also, of the three difficulty levels, only Easy is unlocked from the start. Everything else has to be unlocked via your progress, which gives you a good sense of achievement.
You can also customize your player with unlockable clothes, hair and golf balls. Each unlockable item will improve some aspect of performance, e.g. Elena’s School Girl Suit adds 1 point to her Recovery stats. Again, these can only be unlocked by success in Tournament mode.
As far as the actual gameplay is concerned, when I first started playing I couldn’t find the tutorial (!), but I’ve since found it in the main menu options screen, rather than the in-game options screen, so of course that should be your first stop once you’ve admired the sumptuous opening video.
The tutorial walks you through the basics, including using the analog stick or directional buttons to look left or right before taking your shot, accessing the second view (press triangle) to view the entire course, and pressing L or R to change clubs.
When it comes to actually taking a shot, simply press X to start your swing, and then press X again to set the power of your shot, concentrating on aiming for the flag icon in the shot gauge. Press X one more time to set the accuracy and swing, aiming to hit the green bar for the optimum shot.
When you manage to hit both sweet spots, you’ll see a satisfyingly fiery yellow swish when your player strikes the ball, and they’ll also congratulate you (in a really irritating voice!). Once the ball is in the air you can use either the analog stick or the directional buttons to nudge it in a specific direction, but usually it’s best to leave well alone.
Once the ball hits the green the putting method is slightly different, as you only have one power bar to hit. This is really the only time where wind direction comes into play, certainly in the easier levels, as you have to be so precise with your putts it’s easy for the wind to blow the ball off course unless you make a slight adjustment.
And that’s pretty much all there is to the gameplay – hit the ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible to achieve par or better. What makes Let’s Golf! fun is the quest to hit the perfect shot, getting the precision and timing exactly right and watching the ball soar into the air and land with a satisfying ‘plop’.
That being said, I’m not sure how much longer you’ll want to play the game once you’ve unlocked everything there is to unlock, but it should still keep you occupied for a couple of weeks at least.
The high price doesn’t help, it has to be said. Let’s Golf! certainly suffers in comparison with superior PSP golf games such as Pangya: Fantasy Golf, but if you want something short, sweet and downloadable (which is the point of minis, after all) or you’ve only got a PSPgo, then this is the arcade golf game for you.