The PlayStation version of HotShots Golf was developed by Camelot, as was the brilliant Mario Golf. Both of those games made the golfing experience more accessible simply by including cute graphics and an easy interface. Tee Off has all those things, but none of the more involving RPG elements found in Camelot titles. This is just golf. Plus Croquet (but more on that later). The swing-o-meter is no different or better than any other golfing game, and almost the entire game can be played with the A button and nothing else. Simple, in this case, is good.
There are five courses to choose from, in various exotic locales, from the far-flung Antipodes (Australia) to the sack-chilling wastes of Ghilly Jockoland (Scotland). Adding to the variety of the courses is the (relatively) massive variety of play modes. These range from standards like Match, Stroke and Skins play, to the slightly more adventurous and surreal Gate Ball mode. Think of it as Croquet meets Tron. So weird is this mode that people in the office actually thought it was a different game entirely.
The graphics lack for nothing but personality. Smooth, sharp and convincing, they're just a wee bit bland. Even the "zany" anime characters add little in terms of personality to the proceedings. Certainly they're nowhere near as charming or fun as their inspiration - again, Hot Shots Golf. However, under all this pomp and pap is a very solid, very playable golf game, with support for up to four players, and it makes the most of the Dreamcast experience. As a party game, it's every bit as fun as Mario Golf or even Bomberman (albeit more sedate), and the wealth of play options means that games can be quick and dirty or long and drawn out.
There are a couple of little oddities that make Tee Off feel different from other golf games. One of these is the angle a player is shown at just before a putt. Instead of being right behind the player, the camera moves slightly off to one side. Although it makes little difference to how a player takes a shot, it can be off-putting for those used to regular golf games.
The music, which sounds like funky porn, has little to do with the action and can simply be turned off. The voice acting is fine - better even than half the crap we're used to hearing in games like Resident Evil. Each golfer has a different skill set - and picking the right golfer will make a difference in how the game plays. Once players get good, though, they'll simply want the one with the hardest swing.
The course flyby is simply the best one in a golf game to date, and it actually helps with a shot. Textures could have been more convincing, but there's no denying that this is the smoothest golfy-goodness around. Camera angles are fine, and players can swoop around the 3D course at any time, to figure out hazards before they hit them. Like fishing, the experience is relaxing, taxing and trying, all at once and might possibly explain why fully-grown adults wear stupid pants to play it. All in all, it's a fun game with very few problems.