Golfyssey 28 — PlayStation

Holy crap, remember The Golfyssey?  My lame-brained attempt to “review” a bunch of console-based golf video games and spew forth my uninformed opinions on the hardware on which they were to be had?

Good times, good times.  Except for that shitty black and white abomination for the Atari 5200, and the shitty full colour abomination for the Atari 2600, come to think of it.

But never mind the past!  I’ve unearthed something from the past!  You may or not be aware of North Sentinel Island, which is home to one of “the last tribal people to remain virtually untouched by modern civilisation”, the Sentinelese.  It turns out that back in the mid 1990s, Sony had sold a region-specific version of their PlayStation console only on North Sentinel Island.

This version of the PlayStation had a library of games which was incompatible with every other PlayStation, due to differing video standards and the power requirements of the Sentinelese PlayStation, which was powered by coconuts.

I swear this is all true by the way!  I wouldn’t possibly be making this all up for the purpose of satire or parody!  It’s all true, honest!

Well, you’re in luck, Dear Reader, because I’ve gotten myself a Sentinelese PlayStation, a pair of coconuts, and a copy of a rather unique and interesting golf video game from the makers of the beloved Crash Bandicoot series!  To quote a guy I used to work with in the 1990s: “They want the Crash Bandicoot.  They love the Crash Bandicoot.”*

So without further ado, and about seven years late, I give you the next installment in my beloved, praised, and utterly indefensible indispensable Golfyssey!

“Crash Bandicoot’s Wacky Summer Fun Mini-Golf!”, 1997

This was a launch title for the Sentinelese PlayStation, so all four people who had one got to experience this back in the day.  And now I have too!  So how does it play?  Is it a good golf simulation?  Read on to find out!

The game starts with Crash Bandicoot and his pals meeting up in the Mini-Golf clubhouse on a cheerful and bright Saturday morning.  Everyone is there, including Crash, Aku Aku, Tawna, and Coco.  It looks like the day will be filled with some great mini-golf, some laughter, and some friendship!

Then Dr. Neo Cortex comes into the clubhouse.  He says “Crash Bandicoot, would you like to see my new 9 iron?”  And for the next 25 minutes or so, we are treated to an unskippable cutscene where Neo Cortex mercilessly beats Crash Bandicoot to death with a golf club.

The scene is as detailed and fleshed out as the Sony PlayStation hardware can handle, rendering 90,000 polygons per second of unrelenting bludgeons, scattering skull fragments, flying flecks of brain, and splattering and pooling blood.  You really have to hand it to Naughty Dog, they really knocked it out of the park with the detail and realism of this scene.

The voice acting is top notch here too, as the anguished cries and horrified screams of Crash Bandicoot’s friend’s go on for the entire 25 minutes as they’re held back by Neo Cortex’s villainous warthogs.  And I have to hand it to the writers too, for giving those warthogs some really unnerving threats to utter that I simply can not repeat here.

I might nitpick a little, and say that this cutscene goes on a little too long – especially since I haven’t actually used my controller since pressing start, but I don’t want to sound entitled.

By the end of this 25-minute animated snuff scene, there is no doubt to the player and to the remaining cast of this golf game that our beloved Crash Bandicoot is dead, dead, dead.  With his head thoroughly pulverized and turned into a bloody pulp, Crash Bandicoot has taken his last Wumpa Fruit.

The camera focuses on Neo Cortex again as he steps over the broken and bloodied corpse of Crash Bandicoot, and spits on it.  “¡Pendejo!” he curses.

And now Neo Cortex announces that the game is on!  He is going to go on a very special hunt!  He tells the cowering, shocked, and frightened friends of the late Crash Bandicoot that he has trapped them all within the grounds of this mini-golf course, and that he is going to hunt them down one by one and murder them all in the exact same way that he has so ruthlessly dispatched poor ol’ Crash.

Cortex blows a referee’s whistle from around his neck, and the doors of the clubhouse all open.  Crash’s friends scurry at once in fear.  Neo Cortex counts down from 10, and then the game starts.

The game play is simple.  You take control of Neo Cortex, and move him around with the D-Pad.  You can hold down the trigger buttons while moving to run.  The X button swings the club, and so does the square button.  So do the triangle and circle buttons, as a matter of fact.  Neo Cortex and this game now have one objective: bludgeon and murder Crash Bandicoot’s remaining friends.

You get bonus points if you start to hunt and kill them in the recommended order, but any hit landed on them with your now reddened 9 iron will score points, no matter where they are.

Course design is important for a golf game, and especially so for a game of mini-golf like this.  And I can report that Naughty Dog have not disappointed in this regard.  It looks like each hole has been as carefully crafted as were the blood and brain splatters during the opening cutscene.  Bravo.

It is rather odd though that there don’t appear to be any golf balls in this game – at least none that can be interacted with.  Come to think of it…  oh… never mind.

I would recommend this game, except that it’s rather hard to find, and even harder to play, being so rare and on even more rare hardware.  But perhaps there will be a remaster of this game in the near future, or something like a spiritual successor, that takes the premise of murdering a beloved protagonist with a golf club and then playing the remainder of the game as his murderer!

Wouldn’t that be neat!

*This is actually true.