Friday, May 18, 2012

NES Golf Tour Wrap Up

Well folks!  I hope you have enjoyed the NES Golf Tour!  This was a project years in the making.  I had been promising to do a guide like this for about 10 years, but video game golf is a lot like binge drinking, you get going and it's great, but after you are done, it is hard to go back and write about it.  So, instead I kept a notebook with all of my scores, and lots of notes about the various criteria that helped critique the games. Over the course of years, that accumulated quite a few notes and the accompanying experience was not unwelcome.  The final result is the following ranking of golf games for the NES (listed from best to worst):

4. Golf

NES Open easily provides the best and most complete golfing experience you are going to find on the NES. With all of its special features, saving ability, and customization, playing NES Open is fun every time.  It also has the most replay value of all of the games in the list due to its three courses and leveling up ability.  The graphics are colorful and the game play is engaging.  NES Open is always a stop when I play golf on the NES.

Atlus Golf Grand Slam ranks second, despite its tie with Bandai, on the back of its innovation.  This game amazed me as a kid and still stands unique among its competitors.  The putting is a beast, but the overall experience is enough to keep me coming back for more.  The rich graphics and curious music choice set the stage for a golfing experience unlike any other on the system.  The learning curve is a bit high, but carefully cushioned by the versatility of the interface.

Bandai Golf: Challenge Pebble Beach may not look as shiny as the two above it on this list, but it plays like a champ.  With very little learning curve and simplistic game play, BGCPB is a great game for the first time golfer.  It is also a lot of fun to play based on the course design.  The replication of the course at Pebble Beach is very good and provides excellent challenge for even the best video game golfer.

Even though it was the vanguard golf game for the system, Golf holds its own pretty well despite the stiff competition that was to take its cue from this pioneer.  It holds the center spot on this list because of its solid game play and reasonably low learning curve.  There are some quibbles with a few important game play elements that can result in more frustration than the game warrants, but overall Golf features enough simple fun to be worth a play from time to time.

It's not easy to see the game I grew up on rank so lowly on the list, but nostalgia is not enough to justify Jack Nicklaus Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf being any higher than it is on this list.  The game is pretty simple to play and was great for teaching me how to golf as a kid, but the antiquated graphics and limited game play make for a rigid experience.  I still play JNGHMCG from time to time for old time's sake, but it is not a shining example of what the NES can do with golf.

Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf has all the makings of being a great golf game, but it manages to fall short in too many ways.  The course designs are a bit too video gamey, the difficulty is too harsh and the interface unforgiving for a game that plays as loosely as LTFG. There is fun to be had here, but you'll have to overcome a lot of obstacles to get at it.

I'm not even sure you can really call Greg Norman's Golf Power a real golf video game. There are some basic elements of golf here, but they are so poorly managed that any attempt to derive fun from them is nearly impossible.  The only saving grace for GNGP is the course editor feature which will allow you to manage the basic elements of golf a little better than the original programmers at Virgin were able to.  You can build yourself a better golf course, and you can play it, but whether or not you have fun is entirely up to you.  Good luck!

And that's a wrap for the NES Golf Tour.  I hope this helps you make fun decisions when you decide to test your mettle on the 8-bit links!  I truly think golf shines on this system and most of the games on this list exemplify this opinion.

Have a golf game you love?  Disagree with my assessment on any of these games, or the ranking?  Want to see a guide for golf games for your favorite system in the same fashion as this one?  I'd love to hear your feedback.  Hit us up on our facebook page, or in the comments below!  Thanks for reading!


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