Hands-on: Everybody's Golf is shaping up to be an awesome return for the series

One of the most pleasant surprises to pop up at this year's E3 came in the form of Everybody's Golf. In development by Clap Hanz, the game marks the return of the series following 2011's Everybody's Golf 6, or Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational as it's known in North America.

I got to play a few holes at Sony's E3 booth, and I found the game to be a delightful round of arcade golf.

Time for Some Golf!

My previous experience with digital golf is relegated to Camelot's Mario Golf games, but even then, playing Everybody's Golf felt familiar. The gameplay relies on a three-press system, with the first button press starting your meter, the second press setting your distance, and the final press determining your control. The game's appeal lies in its pick-up-and-play design — you don't need to be a fan of golf sims or actual golf to have fun playing something like Everybody's Golf. It's intuitive, and its emphasis is on just having a good time.

That's not to say Everybody's Golf is shallow. Though it may not be a golf sim, there are still some realistic elements to take note of when you're teeing off. Namely, wind direction and speed can either be your biggest allies or your biggest obstacles. As awesome as it is to hit the ball and see the wind carry it closer to the pin, it's equally nerve-wracking to hit the ball with the wind blowing fiercely in the direction of, say, a sand bunker.

Wind aside, there are other factors to keep track of while playing Everybody's Golf. If, for example, you're unfortunate enough to land the ball in the bunker or even the rough, you'll have to deal with using little more power to get out of the tougher terrain and back on the fairway.

You've got multiple clubs to choose from, as well as a limited number of power shots. As arcade-y as Everybody's Golf may be, it's the type of game that you still need to be smart about playing. You can't just swing with full force every time, because that could send the ball out of bounds or a bit too far from the hole. You need to pay attention to the surrounding area and plan out your shots every time to ensure you get a good score.

The objective of Everybody's Golf is to blend a nice challenge with fun mechanics. And from what I played at E3, it looks like the game will do just that. Getting the ball from point A to point B isn't always easy, but it's always entertaining. And when you score par or better, you feel a genuine sense of satisfaction.

RPG Elements

There are some light RPG mechanics in Everybody's Golf, adding a nice layer of progression to the game. If you're good about timing your button presses, you could level up the different clubs in your possession. Successfully getting the ball to the green with finesse and as few blunders as possible will allow you to increase your power and control, which in turn means you'll be able to hit the ball farther and increase your clubs' sway as you continue playing, respectively.

Turf War — Because Even Golfers Can Be Bad Dudes

A major component of Everybody's Golf this time around is the online Turf War mode. While I didn't get to play it myself, this mode basically splits players up into teams and has them contesting for possession of a course. From what I've seen via beta gameplay videos, Turf War is a timed mode, and the team with the best score by the end of the time limit obtains that course. It's a simple competitive feature, but it could be a lot of fun, especially with the added pressure of the time limit.

Golf for Everybody

Everybody's Golf has always been about approaching the titular sport in a lighthearted manner, and this latest entry is no different. If anything, it ups the cartoon-like factor by allowing you to run around courses as you please. You can even jump into a golf cart and drive around like a maniac. Unfortunately, you won't be able to run down any random NPCs as the Sony rep at the E3 demo station informed me. I was a bit bummed out about that, but there are always Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row to meet those visceral desires.

There's definitely still plenty to gain from exploring courses on foot or using a cart. Tucked away throughout the game are different treasures and items that you can use to customize your character using the create-a-golfer feature.

As excited as I am about Everybody's Golf, I do have a minor gripe. Despite the game's charm, the graphics look kind of dated. It's a shame, too, because the PlayStation 4 hardware could've really been used to create a vibrant, colorful golf experience, but instead everything looks like an early era PlayStation 3 title. That shouldn't detract much from the actual gameplay experience, if anything, but it would definitely be nice if the game looked as good as it plays.

That issue aside, Everybody's Golf looks like a solid round of golf for both fans of the series and newcomers alike. And if the inviting nature of the game wasn't enough to pique your interest, Everybody's Golf will feature a modest $39.99 price point when it launches for PlayStation 4 on August 29. Watch out for it.