Where exactly to start with the mega drop of new games on Apple Arcade late last week? As tempted as I’ve been by Mistwalker’s outrageously gorgeous Fantasian, or Platinum Games’ overdue iOS debut World of Demons, it’s the one that took me completely by surprise that I downloaded first. Its very existence is a remarkable thing of itself: after 23 years as a PlayStation exclusive developer, this is Clap Hanz first release beyond the world of Sony’s consoles.
If you’ve been a fan of Clap Hanz’ PlayStation work, it’ll be immediately familiar: Clap Hanz Golf on Apple Arcade really is the Everybody’s Golf experience on mobile, all that character and class accumulated over the years surviving the process intact, with a few nips and tucks here and there.
What you’re getting here, then, is a colourful, softly overstated and extremely absorbing take on the game of golf. So much of that is in the presentation – there’s a bright breeziness to Clap Hanz’ games which has always made spending time with them a joy, and perhaps fittingly given the developer’s name the whole thing feels like a gentle round of applause, politely encouraging you on your way. It’s uplifting in the exact same way Everybody’s Golf always has been.
After the expansive 2017 PlayStation 4 outing, Clap Hanz makes some understandable tweaks for the new platform. Here you’ve a deck of players you expand as you play, and before a round you specify players for each particular hole – a smart way to lend the shorter play sessions associated with mobile a bit of variety. It’s a chance for Clap Hanz’ character to shine through, too, with the players a colourful bunch you can level up over time, with the nurturing of a balanced party adding another crinkle to the well-established fundamentals of golf.
And when it comes to those fundamentals, they’ve had some tweaks too – although I’m not quite as taken with them just yet as I have been with the rest of Clap Hanz Golf. Touchscreen controls are a given, of course, and here in place of the more traditional power meter you’ve invited to swing with a flick of the finger (and if you do opt for controller support, you’ll still be swinging the stick in an approximation of the touchscreen method).
Maybe it’s down to being a bit of a fat-fingered mess, or maybe it’s because I’ve spent so many hours with the PlayStation originals, but after a couple of hours I’ve still not properly gelled with it – the fidelity’s not quite there, not to mention the problem of having your finger obscure the meter itself.
It means that as much as I’ve enjoyed my time with Clap Hanz Golf – and I’m looking forward to spending plenty more time with it – it’s primarily served to make me pine for a proper new PlayStation Everybody’s Golf, and given all that’s gone on with Japan Studio, and given the timing of this release, I’m not entirely convinced that’ll happen any time soon. Still, I’m sure I’ll learn to love the fundamentals of Clap Hanz Golf, and I can’t deny it’s a welcome and very pleasant surprise. It’s an all-new Everybody’s Golf in all but name, and that’s something worth a round of applause itself.