Golf
  • Genre:
    • Sports
  • Platform:
    • Virtual Boy
  • Developer:
    • T&E Soft
  • Publishers:
    • JP T&E Soft
    • US Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 08/11/1995
    • US November 1995
Score: 55%

This review was published on 06/07/2016.

Golf, known in Japan as T&E Virtual Golf, is a sports video game developed by T&E Soft for the Virtual Boy. It was originally released in Japan on August 11, 1995, and North America in November 1995. The game was published by T&E Soft in Japan and Nintendo in North America. Originally, this game was going to be called VR Golf, but the name was changed before the game's release. Despite the North American title of this game, it isn't at all related to the "Golf" games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, and other similar platforms. Golf on the Virtual Boy is a much more realistic depiction of the sport when compared to those other games, so it's far more complex. This game is an impressive technological feat for the Virtual Boy, but it's very hard to tolerate for those who aren't into the highly realistic golfing simulator genre. It's also a little lacking in content.

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For the Virtual Boy, these graphics are fairly good. They're still in the Virtual Boy's red and black color scheme that'll make your eyes bleed, but they're impressive considering the hardware. The character sprite that appears whenever you swing your golf club is large, very detailed, and decently animated. Environments are rendered in basic 3-D, giving you a much better view of the course than most 2-D golfing games of the time. This is especially useful for seeing slopes, which is pretty important in golf. You can't dynamically change camera angles or anything, but it's still quite handy. One failing these visuals have is that the stereoscopic 3-D effect isn't too great here, especially when compared to other Virtual Boy games like Mario Clash and Panic Bomber. That doesn't affect the game play too much, but it does make the Virtual Boy's unique stereoscopic 3-D abilities seem pointless. Other than that, the visuals are surprisingly competent for a game of this type.

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In the unlikely scenario that you don't know how golf works, then let me give you a quick rundown. Basically, the game takes place on a massive grassy field known as a course. There are eighteen holes per course and the main objective of the game is to use a club to hit the ball into each and every one of them. Score is kept by how many strokes it takes to get the ball into each hole, so having a lower number is better. Each hole will have something called a par, which is the minimum amount of strokes required to get a zero on your scorecard. The par is typically three or four, but it can be more than that. If you get less than the par, then you'll get a score in the negatives, which is even better than zero. After doing all eighteen holes, your total score will be tallied and you'll be ranked as a golfer. There's more to golf than that, but these are the basics.

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Now that you know how golf works, let me explain how this game works. Whenever it's your turn, a series of floating menu icons will pop up. The icons rotate around as you make your selection, similar to the ring menus from Secret of Mana on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. With these selection icons, you can adjust the direction of your shot, what club you're using, your stance, and so on. The game will automatically give you the recommended adjustments, but you can always customize your shot. Once you're done fine tuning things, you then select the option to initiate a shot, which causes a power meter to appear; hit the A button with good timing to get the desired amount of power. After that, a large image of the ball will appear with a dot rapidly moving around it, and you press A to stop the dot on the desired point of impact. Finally, your character will hit the ball, hopefully to the desired spot on the map. All this works well, but that rapid dot segment is pretty irritating, because the timing is tough and getting it wrong can totally ruin your shot.

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When on the game's main menu, you're able to select from two modes: Stroke Play and Tournament. Stroke Play has you play with yourself, but not in the way you're thinking. With Stroke Play, you're able to freely select which of this game's eighteen holes you want to play; the order is entirely up to you. In Tournament mode, you play through all eighteen holes in order and compete against 47 other computer controlled golfers. Unfortunately, you don't actually get to see the other golfers do their stuff, as everything they do happens off screen. You do see their names and scores after every hole you complete, but that's the only evidence you get of their existence. Whoever has the lowest score by the end of the tournament is the winner. You can also quit Stroke Play or a Tournament at any time and come back to it later through the use of passwords. This is all fine and dandy, but the main issue is that this game only has one course. Whether you play it in Stroke Play or Tournament makes little difference.

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After playing a couple rounds of golf, you can check out your records on the main menu. You can either view a player's individual records or see the course records. All the player names you've registered will have their individual stats tracked. These stats are fairly detailed and include things like the number of victories, longest drive, longest putt, number of pars, and much more. There's also a section that records your best shots, complete with replays! The replays are kind of an advanced feature, especially for this time period and type of hardware. However, this is ultimately all for naught, because there is no save function, meaning you lose all your data whenever you shut the game off. That's a real bummer.

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If you like realistic golfing simulators, then you may like this game. If not, then you're probably better off trying the Mario Golf series, which is more casual. Even then, this particular golf game only has a single course, and it doesn't save any of your scores or accomplishments. There's also no multiplayer support, which is probably due to the fact that the Virtual Boy never got a link cable. The core play mechanics aren't too shabby for a game of this sort, but there's very little content here to keep you entertained for long.

Word Count: 1,115

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