Hot Shots Golf (PS1) – Review (kind of)

Growing up as an NES/Sega kid made me have some weird choices in the games I had as a kid. We got our Sega Genesis for Christmas and got to select from a range of games on the back of the box, getting one of them for free. I filed out the card, selecting a few games and ended up getting Pebble Beach Golf Links and played the shit out of it. I can’t say that it was my number one pick, but the whole family actually ended up liking it. The next golf game that I really ever got into would be Everybody’s Golf for the PS4, which I loved playing. So it was pretty interesting to go back to the game that started out the series on the PS1.

Just look how hot those games are!

I just have to get right out there and say that having this game on the PS Plus Premium service really made me play it in an odd way. I like the choice of game and that they added trophy support for it, I love how they’re doing that to select games even though every one of them should actually have it. I’m sure a lot of these developers are going to be hard to track down, and getting them to add trophy tags to their games will be next to impossible. The more games that get this feature, the more I’m going to play, that’s for sure.

So let’s get to the golf in this game. I don’t think it’s that great, especially compared to any golf game in todays market. My biggest gripe is the amount of control you have over your shots. The amount of options available to you make it seem like a math game at times. Let’s say you’re 50 yards from the hole and have to make chip shot, the wind is very mild and things are looking good. You hit the ball and it lands about a foot away from the hole. Because this game is emulated on the PS5, you get a rewind feature, so you rewind it and try to nudge the shot over to get your chip shot to go right in. You tap the button ever so slightly and try again, this time the ball goes two feet to the right of the hole. Shit, so let’s go back and try that again, tap it back to the left and the ball goes exactly where the other shot went. The amount of control you have is not granular enough to make every shot. It feels like it’s all integer based and not floating point. It’s actually a little crazy to think about how basic this golf model is. It’s a limitation of the technology and I’m not really faulting the game on that, even though it might feel that way. It’s nostalgic and interesting to see from a technical and historical perspective.

Where this is really evident is when you try to go for a few of the trophies, like getting a hole in one or an albatross. Let’s say you’re on a par 5 course and trying to get it in in two shots. The first one is going to have to get you close to the hole for a nice chip shot. Depending on where your first shot goes, it may just be impossible for the next shot to get in because of the way the ball physics and controls work. You’ll have to retake your first shot off the tee and try to see if you hit it in the right spot this time so the math works out for your next shot. It’s cute how simple it all is.

The craziest part of this game is just having that rewind functionality. I couldn’t help but just use it each time I fucked up. I knew it was ruining my experience of the game but I just couldn’t stop. That meant I never really fucked up a shot, every time I went to put, the ball went in, because why wouldn’t it? It made me just demolish every versus player I went up against. Knocking them all out, unlocking all the characters and trophies as I went.

One of the craziest things I came across while playing are the occasions when your computer controlled opponents get into a loop of fucking up their shots. This water hazard image shows my opponent constantly chipping her shot into the water. She was on the other bank and kept trying to chip the ball onto the green over the water. The lie of her ball just wouldn’t allow her shot to get to the green, so she kept going over and over until she hit a high number and was disqualified. It happened a few other times when they got stuck in a sand trap and the ball would never get out. The AI just doesn’t have the programming to realize the shot is impossible, where they should just chip to the side or back onto the fairway and try again from a better position.

FINAL SCORE – 6.2

It’s interesting to just see how the evolution of golf games have gone over the years. If you have any interest in golf games it’s a must play. They really had the start of something wonderful with this title, from the little characters to the fun courses. I do think that it’s way to basic to be considered seriously in todays market. There also feels like a little bit of lag is present when picking your power and accuracy. It ends up feeling random and not skill based if I was going to get the perfect shot that I wanted. I’d recommend trophy hunters and people into the history of games to give this a shot. If you want a better game of golf though, try out one of the newer versions instead.

IQ Intelligent Qube – Review (ish)

IQ: Intelligent Qube is a Playstation 1 puzzle game from 1997, making it 25 years old. That’s a little insane to think about, especially since I remember playing a demo for this game at some point around then. I also remember not really understanding what to do in the game and giving up on it fairly quick. It would then always shock me when I heard people talking about how good this game is and that it’s a bit of a classic. With that all in mind, it’s nice that this is one of the first games Sony added to their PS Plus Premium tier. I especially like that it has trophy support since we all need more ways to feed that addiction.

I booted this game up and skipped the tutorial section and instantly had no fucking clue of what to do. I kept getting run over by the rotating blocks as they slowly marched towards my little polygonol character. Instead, I hopped on YouTube and thumbed through a quick tutorial just to get the gist of the game. I was now prepared to dominate this game.

The game consists of three colored blocks, black, grey, and green. They slowly rotate in unison down the stage until falling off the edge. Your goal is to mark blocks for deletion, trying to clear all the grey blocks before they fall off. Take out a green and that spot gets marked, activate that mark and you clear all surrounding blocks. The trick is to leave all the black blocks intact, that’s where the skill lies. You’re allowed to mess up a few times, but like with any good puzzle game, it’s more rewarding and challenging to perfect each stage.

With just a little bit of knowledge of the mechanics of this puzzle game, I was quickly able to plow through the whole thing in just over an hour, getting every single trophy and earning that coveted platinum. I feel like that’s what makes a good puzzle game, being able to pick it up with the core concepts of how it works and use those to take down some puzzles.

What trivialized the game to me was the ability to use the rewind feature of the classic emulation on the PS5. Any mistakes I made were quickly rectified through a quick rewind of the game. Don’t wait to die and restart the level, just go back a few seconds and make that critical move. It was a great tool in helping me tear through a classic game in record time while getting the platinum.

I feel like that is the more interesting topic in this whole subscription service and these classic games. You provide tools that allow you to quickly put down certain games. The only thing I feel like I may miss is a fast forward feature like the modern remakes of the old Final Fantasy games have. So if you want, you can get a taste of what these classic games have to offer. You don’t have to really spend much time with them and you can beat them fairly easily. Is it the experience the developers originally wanted players to have? Not in the least, but is that okay with you?

The game controls like an old PS1 game trying to get to grips with 3D. Directional movement isn’t smooth, when the camera moves and your character is trying to do precise movement, directionality tends to get locked up (think Resident Evil controls when the camera moves). The character you control will sometimes just not move where you think he should. It could definitely be frustrating if you didn’t have the rewind function. With it I found I’d just rewind and try again without getting upset, so that feature ended up being a positive to the game design.

Final Score – 7

In the end, I’m happy for this game to be in the PS Premium tier with trophies. I am actually happy that I got to play all the way through it and have a platinum trophy to show for it. It feels like a small part of my gaming history has come to a close.

Ape Escape (PS1) – Review

Another classic PS1 game to play on my PlayStation 5. Oh how time flies. I have a lot of history with this game. I remember picking it up for PS1 when it came out back in May 1999 from my local Toy’s R Us. It was the first game to explicitly require you to use a DualShock controller. So not only did I have to buy this game, I had to get a controller with it just to play it. That’s a big ask for a kid with limited funds, but I was already sold on the possibilities this new controller could provid.

You have to see how crazy this scene is in motion, building move around, wobbling like they’re made of jelly.

What’s interesting about these times is that a full three years prior, Sega released their Saturn 3D controller to use with Nights into Dreams. That was a controller with one analogue stick, along with the traditional D-Pad, that would give you smoother control over the way your character would fly through the environments. Instead of a digital interface, like a keyboard, you got the smooth motion that only an analogue stick could provide. Sony just went to the next level and added another stick, forever changing the game. The history of console gaming has to give it up for the efforts of Sony and these developers for making it a requirement to play this game, it’s just sucks that the first person shooters of the time didn’t get the memo.

This is what I respect out of this game. I have to give it up for the fact that they were the first to go all in on this new standard of control. It’s a little harder to praise the rest of the game though. The new PS Plus subscription service allows you to play some of these old games on PS5, I’ve already played a few of the other PS1 classic games, but this title really highlights a main issue I have with these games. For context, the PS1 has some really weird graphical issues when you play them, polygons seem to be made out of Jell-O and textures warp left and right all the time. The texture warping doesn’t really bother me that much, it’s what 3D games on a PS1 look like, so I can overlook that (even though modern emulators have solved this problem). My main issue with the 3D games on PS1, and especially this one, is the way the PS1 handles vertex points. If you don’t know, a 3D object is made up of polygons, each triangle polygon is composed of three vertex points. The PS1 can only do integer translation of these vertex points, which means the hardware itself didn’t have support for floating point calculations. So what does that get us in the 3D games that came out? It means that vertices constantly snap as they move, it’s not gradual and can honestly be visually annoying and can cause headaches. I feel like this problem is exacerbated by the fact that we’re now playing these games at higher resolutions on 4K screens, the problem is just amplified to an insane degree. Modern emulators can solve these issues, but that feature is currently not supported on the emulator the PS5 uses at this time.

Ape Escape is almost hilarious to play today. As you go through a few stages, you start to realize just how small these levels are. You can catch all the monkeys and get the collectable coin(s) in about 5-10 minutes. The draw distance in the game is insanely short as well, with parts of the level fading into the skybox at about 50 feet from the character.

I ran through the whole game and got the platinum in this one as well, but I did use my trusty rewind feature. I would run up to monkeys and if they got away after a bad catch attempt, I would just rewind it and try again.

I wouldn’t say this is a great game in today’s landscape, especially considering the evolutionary leaps in controls and gameplay since this titles release. Even compared to Mario 64, which came out 3 years prior, the controls are no match to what Nintendo were already doing. The controls in this game are a little bit of a gimmick, the right stick is used to give directionality to your attacks, which makes the camera controls default to the left and right of the D-Pad. This feels horrible and actually made me change the controllers button mapping on the console level to swap the R2 and L2 for the left and right D-Pad. There wasn’t way to make this change in the game which was frustrating.

a cinematic scene without the draw fog.

Another one of those classic PS1 games that I am glad I went through and got the platinum but couldn’t see myself ever playing this again, perhaps in another 23 years or so. It feels like watching an old movie today, you have to understand the cultural context to when it was released to really appreciate it, and I appreciate this game for what it’s done. It really needed some quality of life improvements like better controls and the ability to map buttons differently. It would have also benefited heavily from modding the game to allow for floating point calculations, I really had a hard time towards the end of the game with the way the motion of the polygons were translating, it was honestly giving me a headache. I also did play this on a 77″ TV, which made the actual jumps between frames turn into inches of my screen. If you play this on a 13″ CRT monitor using VGA cables, I’m pretty positive those issues aren’t as noticeable.

The draw distance is funny.

Final Score – 6.8

Play it just to see and feel a little bit of the history of video games and to help understand where the industry evolved from. This is a landmark title that is a little rough around the edges by today’s standards. The story is basic as fuck, the graphics are hilarious, and the controls are frustrating until you adjust them on a console level, and then they’re just a bit better. It will be really interesting to see what the sequel did for the series though, so perhaps I’ll try that at some point. One more thing though, the main character Spike, sucks. I beat the game and can’t remember him having any sort of personality or even saying anything. I’m sure he must have, but this is not a mascot for Sony by any stretch of the imagination.

Big boss battle!
What until you see this in motion. The vertex points are popping all over.