Can I get an explanation here?

I’ve had my PS Vita for a little over two weeks now and overall I’ve been loving the game. I’ve already started rolling out some reviews for the games over at Gamer Theory, including my review for Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational. I gave the game a 4 out 5 star rating, which means it’s a very good game. I’ve also been downright addicted to the game since I gave it a go for the first time, but I’m also incredibly frustrated by it.

Allow me to explain.

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is far more deep than it appears on the surface. There are standard shots, power shots, and then there are special shots that you can execute. The game barely tells you how to do any of the three, and it’s all tucked away in loading screens or in the user manual, but even in those places it’s poorly described. And in no place does it mention that you need to level your golfer up to a certain level to use certain special shots. In addition to the different shots, there are conditions that aren’t explained very well. The game leaves a lot up to you in regards to figuring out the gameplay systems and what the visual cues mean. The end result is confusion and frustration.

At times the hole itself seems to be larger than at other times. It took a forum search to find out that there are different cup sizes throughout the game. Also, there are challenges on each course that are totally unexplained. As it tallies up your score after each round, you’ll see a bonus for completing a “Crown” goal, but you’re never told how to achieve the goal. Again, it takes some forum hunting to find out what the requirements are. Eventually these goals get explained, but not until after you’ve COMPLETED EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE CHALLENGE MODE. Silly is a nice way of putting it. Asinine is the accurate way.

And Hot Shots Golf is just a more recent example, but I’ve noticed that one area Japanese developers really fall behind is in their ability to train the player. SoulCalibur V is also light on tutorial, but then you have games like Final Fantasy XIII that hold your hand for far too long. I’m starting to see that Japanese developers are either lacking proper focus testing, or else they’re just stubborn in how they want to handle (or mishandle) tutorials.

As the average age of the gamer continues to creep upwards, and as more and more triple A titles roll out each year, developers really need to figure these basic issues out. If I have to waste time outside of the game itself to figure out how to play a game effectively by searching around forums or online guides, then the developer has failed.