Friday, December 19, 2014

Three PGA legends and their early generation video games

Golf. Is there a sport more appropriate for the video game format?

Three PGA legends and their early generation video games

Golf. Is there a sport more appropriate for the video game format?

Yes, many. But that didn't stop some of golf's biggest legends from venturing into the medium in its fledgling stage. Here are several classics and the various ways they did not translate well into modern times.

Jack Nicklaus' Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf  

Pictured: Not a lot going on here, but Nicklaus gives you a “Nice shot!” upon hitting the start button. “Thanks,” you reply. “All I did was hit the start button.” That Jack Nicklaus. Nice guy.

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Watch as the golf course comes to life right before your eyes, loading horizontally one line at a time. Or is that Nicklaus, creating it with his mind out of pure will? The instruction manual doesn’t say anything about the game being a testament to Nicklaus as an all-powerful deity, so this could just be how the game loads. The truth is, we’ll never know.

In this era, there seemed to be 20 or 30 all-purpose noises used to indicate a variety of things. Driving the ball in this game includes a sound effect that I’m pretty sure I heard in another game when it was supposed to be a dog barking.

You can hit Augusta, Pebble Beach, Muirfield, among others and even features a four player option which, yeah, sounds silly now, but that's the kind of game feature that used to bulge people's eyeballs out of their sockets. Seriously, you don't have to invite your friends over one at a time anymore. If only you had more than one friend.

Fun fact on this one: People playing this on a Mac with 1 Mb of RAM didn't have sufficient enough memory to play as the female character option.

Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf

Pictured: Trevino, blasting a ball into the air while some unruly person hurls a shovel full of dirt into the air.

There is not one person on this planet who can explain to you why the word “fighting” is in the title of this game. No mid-hole fisticuffs, no wailing on opponents with five irons, no fending off wave after wave of pixilated gophers.

Whatever you imagined this game entails, it doesn’t. Except for golf. It has that. It also has Lee Trevino, but disguised as a character named "Super Mex." That seems slightly racist, but maybe only because Trevino was born in Dallas. You know, where America's team once played.

The music has a slower tempo, like the track that would play in the background as you stand on a beachside hole, clutching your putter and staring into the sun set on the ocean as the breeze blows through your hair, in a video game in 1988.

The tonal shift when you go to play a hole is distinctly pressurized, as if it to say, "It sure was fun putzing around on the opening screen like that, thinking about all the great video golfing you're about to do. That'll be a fun memory to reflect on as this course and its four majestic colors causes great shame for your family."

Greg Norman’s Golf Power

Pictured: Dr. Seuss goes to Tron.

If you can get past the 15 seconds of the words “COURSE LOADING PLEASE WAIT” flashing on screen, maybe you'll be able to get some golf in. I was almost convinced the game would cut to the course pro telling you it was too dark and hanging a "CLOSED" sign on the pro shop door.

Teeing off sounds like a half a box of matches being shaken. A drive makes the same sound as a cartoon character’s smile fading to a frown. But who cares what sounds you're making when you're traveling to courses in U.S.A., Japan, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Australia, Hawaii, and more - all from the comfort of your '90s themed bedoom.

As for the music, do you have any friends who look for the worst-sounding noises to set as their ring tones so they can startle and irritate people? You should make sure those friends never find out about this game.

Instead, Norman's game has the distinction of being the first golf game to feature a "create a hole" mode, giving the player the same godlike powers Jack Nicklaus seems to have in his game. This seems to be a careless move by Virgin Games, who showed no concern with angering Nicklaus after his intimidating display of power.

Justin Klugh Sports Producer
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