Golfyssey 18 – Super Nintendo

The Super Nintendo sure did arrive late to the 16-bit party, didn’t it?  As the last of the main players to be released, it might seem a bit underpowered.  But Nintendo found many ways to make it succeed, and scores upon scores of games released for the system are considered to be classics.  Many game studios pushed their art to produce sights and sounds that people thought couldn’t be done on such a low-powered system.  In addition to this, Nintendo built the system with plans to allow special coprocessor chips built into certain game cartridges to interface with the console’s hardware.  This upped the specs of the machine while the game was being played and allowed the Super Nintendo to display far more sophisticated graphics than it would be able to on its own.

This overall strategy paid off, and the Super Nintendo is considered to have been a success in the market place.  This is despite the famous “console wars” of that era having no clear winner.

The golf games for the system were what you would expect from hardware like this.  I’ve mentioned that the version of “Jack Nicklaus Golf” for this system is the best to date, so if you like that game, definitely pick it up for the Super Nintendo.

“Pebble Beach Golf Links” and some of the EA golf games that I reviewed for the Sega Genesis are also available for this console, so I won’t review them.

“Hole in One Golf”, 1991

Hole in One box

Hole in One Golf 01

This one isn’t too impressive.  If you like constant music throughout, you might just like it.  This is one of those games.

Hole in One Golf 02

Might as well get this out of the way right now.  Mode 7.  Some games incorporated the “scaling and rotation” effects into their games tastefully, and some did not.  This game falls under the latter category.  The idea of its use in this game is to help in a course flyby to show you the hole your about to play.  But it’s executed poorly and in a way that screams “LOOK WHAT THE SUPER NINTENDO CAN DO!”

Thankfully, you can skip this with the press of a button.  The game setup includes options for styles of gameplay, entering your name (which is handled rather clumsily for some reason) and choosing your set of clubs.  The music will not stop.  There is no way to turn it off.

Hole in One Golf 03

When you start playing, your course view looks like this.  The blue-outlined menu near the bottom right of the screen shows you a menu of functions, which you can navigate with the direction pad.

Hole in One Golf 04

This is the green,

Hole in One Golf 05

This is the hole you can view, with some options of its own.  It’s interesting, but it seems like overkill to me.  Will this fucking music never cease?

Hole in One Golf 06

Here you can overlay a grid to help you gauge the terrain.

Pressing the Start button will pause the game and show you the score card.  It will not however stop the music.

Hole in One Golf 07

When you’re ready to play, press the A or B button when the arrow in your menu is on SHOT.

Hole in One Golf 08

Use the L and R shoulder buttons to aim.

Hole in One Golf 09

Pressing A or B will show you your ball lie…

Hole in One Golf 10

Pressing A or B again will allow you to select your club.  Use up and down on the direction pad to switch clubs.

Hole in One Golf 11

Another press of the A or B button will allow you to change your stance.  Left and right on the direction pad will change it.  Nothing will change my stance on this annoying music.

Hole in One Golf 12

To bring up the power meter, press A or B again.  This one moves fast and it’s unforgiving.  It is 3-button style, and if you hit the buttons too far out of the marked zones, you will not make a shot and you will be penalized one stroke.  Hitting out of bounds is also a one-stroke penalty and a re-hit.

Hole in One Golf 13

The putting green offers no altered view or zoom-in, and the power meter works exactly the same way.  It does look different, and it is much shorter, so putts are rather difficult to make.

You can probably tell that I didn’t like this game.  I’m getting the impression by playing some of these games from the 90s that some game developers were being told “We need a golf game for console such-and-such by this specific date… make it happen!”

On the plus side, the music has finally stopped because I shut down the emulator, and I’m now enjoying a delicious cup of tea.

“Irem Skins Game”, 1992

Irem Skins Game box

Irem Skins Game 01

That font looks kind of like the old standard NES font.  I hope this isn’t a sign of poor quality to come.

Irem Skins Game 02

Well, the 8-bit look of the font on a 16-bit system is an odd choice, but… OH MY GOD YOU CAN PLAY AS FREDDIE MERCURY!!!

Irem Skins Game 03

FUCK YES!

Freddie+Mercury+Golf

Anyway, the graphics do get better.  Once you get started, they look pretty standard for a Super Nintendo game of this era.

Irem Skins Game 04

But this game too is marred by constant shitty poppy happy sappy pappy music that can’t be turned off.

Irem Skins Game 05

The interface is different from the other games that I’ve reviewed here, but the basics are there.  The red highlight is on the “CLUB” option in that screenshot right now, and pressing the L and R shoulder buttons will navigate left and right.  The B button will also move the highlighted selection to the right.

When you have an item highlighted, the direction pad will change the options for it.  On “CLUB”, use the direction pad to change which club you’re using.  You will see the power meter (on the left side of the screen with the triangular pointer next to it) get bigger when you select a lighter club.

The “DIRECTION” menu item will allow you to aim with the direction pad.  You will see the course view shift as you change it.

“STANCE” will change the way your feet stand in front of the ball, and you will see this animated slightly by the golfer.  The arrow above the menu item will show you which way the ball will fly.

The “POWER” Menu item must be set before you swing.  If you are making a long shot, set it higher.  Otherwise, set it lower.

When you have set up your shot, press A.  You only get one button press, and you need to time it when the indicator to the left of the power meter is pointing at the line in the middle.

You will see your golfer swing, and you will see your ball fly through the air.

Irem Skins Game 06

Irem Skins Game 07

Irem Skins Game 08

As you can see, the graphics did improve.  Everything is easy to see at a glance.  When you make it on to the putting green, your view changes to look like this:

Irem Skins Game 09

You can only choose the direction and power of your shot now.

Irem Skins Game 10

We are the champions…

Irem Skins Game 11

… my friends…

Pretty good game.  It has a different control system from most, and it looks pretty good, even though it doesn’t fully take advantage of what the Super Nintendo could do.  The only thing that kills this game for me is the music.  I will probably give it a replay or two, but the speakers will definitely be off.

“Wicked 18”, 1993

Wicked 18 box

Wicked 18 01

A high-quality game.  This one comes from the same people who made “Pebble Beach Golf Links”, and the controls are very similar to that game.  See my review of that game for details about the control system.

The premise of this game is pure fantasy.  Basically, it’s a chance for the game’s designers to make some very challenging holes collected on a golf course that could not physically exist.  You can see a manifestation of this in the very first hole.  Mountains come out of the sky à la Roger Dean.

Wicked 18 02

So the graphics are very good.  And the game play is great.  There is music constantly playing, but it can be turned off!

Wicked 18 03

There is quite a lot of ccustomizability in this game.  If you press Select, the controlls window will rotate its position along the four corners of the screen.  If you press start, the background of that window will toggle between transparent and grey background.  You can alter the camera view too.  This game is fully 3D.

Pressing Y will bring you to the options window.  The X button will show you the putting green:

Wicked 18 04

A cancels back to the last menu item, and B is the action button.  Pressing B will first bring up your club selection window:

Wicked 18 05

Left and right on the direction pad will select a different club.  Be sure to choose the appropriate club for the distance to the hole, which is shown near the bottom left.

Wicked 18 06

Another press of B and you can choose your stance.

Wicked 18 07

Pressing the B button again will bring up your power meter.  Read my “Pebble Beach Golf Links” for Sega Genesis review to see how this works.

Wicked 18 08

The ball and course will be animated as your shot is made.  This can be a bit slow as the graphics are rendered.

Wicked 18 10

Wicked 18 11

Wicked 18 12

When you have made it onto the putting green, you will automatically get a terrain grid, a graph and a summary displayed:

Wicked 18 13

Putts are handled the same way as regular shots, just be careful not to over-swing.

I had a lot of fun when I played “Pebble Beach Golf Links”, and I was quite impressed by the quality of that game and the realism the developers tried to give to the experience.  This game adds to all of that tremendously, even though the whole point of the course is to have totally fantastic holes with unreal elements and settings.  Here is a small foretaste of the next hole.

Wicked 18 15

I haven’t played through all 18 holes yet, but this first round I played was so enjoyable that I can’t wait to do so.  I bet that all of the holes have a different theme to them.  Even if they don’t this game is well worth playing.  If you’d like to try it out yourself via emulation, check out the ZNES emulator.