Golf NES Review

What better way of enjoying your Sunday then changing into your yellow trousers and pink pullover, grabbing your 3 Wood and heading onto the fairways for 18 holes? But if you don’t have that, the next best thing would be to play a simulation of it – right? Well… Nintendo clearly thought so, so in 1986 in the UK they released their take on the famous game, with the black box design, to the British masses. Does it live up to the real game? Does it make you want to be the next Bubba Watson?

Well popping this sucker into your console provides you with a basic menu – 1 Player Stroke play (no sniggering) or if you got your buddy over and up for something more relaxing than Contra, 2 player Stroke Play. But one thing I will say, whatever takes your fancy, it goes straight into the game – no character selection, no colour coordinaton clothing, straight up gameplay.

The game itself is very simple, if you don’t know the rules I suggest Wikipedia to start with – the idea of getting the ball in to the hole in the fewest hits, or “strokes”. On screen shows to the top left information on how far the hole is and your score. To the bottom left a rather portly-looking Mario, in his finest blue trousers and white polo top, that gives off the impression he’s more a builder on his day off trying to hob-nob on the green. Well they do say exectuive decisions are made on the golf course! To the right is the course map. The controls is the standard for most retro golf games – press A to start the power bar, A again to set the power, and a final A to stop the bar, trying to hit the white line as accurate as possible. So far so good.  Its a nice touch when you aim the ball using left or right d-pad, to adjust this and this is graphically reflected in the bottom left hand side of the screen where Portly-Mario is.

But alas there is where the good times end. Unfortunately, as much as this game has the usual golfing fare of bunkers and wooded trees, what the game lacks is accuracy. You may know how far the ball is to the hole, however what you don’t know is how powerful your golf club, and this ultimately ruins the gameplay. For example, it shows its 120 yards to the hole, but with 13 clubs and a putter to choose from, how do you know which club to use? Without a power rating for each club, your guessing in the dark, and this a major hindrance espeicially to those who don’t know golf properly, like myself. Added to this, if you don’t know the strength of the club, you don’t know how hard to hit the ball on the power bar. This leads to you hitting the ball too hard, over the flag and hole, or too softly, causing you to use up more shots. You’d have an easier and more accurate time peeing into a tornado and dodging the spray.

Tiger Woods eat your heart out

In terms of sounds, well, there is none. No groovy music, just you, your concentration, and the whoo sound made when you make your shot. And if there’s a more annoying sound than when you hit the ball out of the area, into the black parts, then please let me know because you’ll hear it time and time again, the *urgh urgh urgh* sound. It’ll be ingrained into your psyche, even after the console is shut off you’ll randomly hear the Out of Bounds (OB sound) in your day-to day life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not adverse to golf games on home consoles, take Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64, or PGA Tour Golf on the Mega Drive as great examples of golfing games done well. I understand as well this would have been the first golf game on a console, so would never be perfect, however, slight alterations could have made this a better game than it was. As a result, until alternatives like NES Open was released, this was all prospective Tiger Woods could use. The lack of a power guide for each club ruins an otherwise standard golf game. If you like challenges, then by all means pick up a copy, on eBay they do go a dime a dzoen, but my advice? Search for PGA Tour Golf instead – you’ll thank me in the long run. I’m now off to change out of my yellow strides and slip into something more comfortable, like a coma…

Rating – 1 out of 5