In the tradition of classic golf video games such as Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf
and Vs. Golf
comes 1995's Golf
(also known as T&E Virtual Golf
) from T&E Soft
and released by Nintendo
for the Virtual Boy
. Roughly 32% of the Virtual Boy
game library is sports-related titles, and Golf
is actually one of the better ones. Players are challenged to complete an eighteen hole golf course
through a number of different modes, from solitary play to a tournament against a number of CPU-controlled golfers. Unlike other golf games of the era, Golf
gives players a great amount of control over the golfing experiences and, for fans of the sport, provides an enjoyable day on the virtual links.
The heart of Golf is the simple-yet-powerful interface through which you set up your shots. A rotating 3D menu guides you through setting up all of the variables that go into a stroke, such as your club, stance, and aim. When it's time to swing a power meter appears and, with a tap of the A button, the meter stops. Full power is recommended for long drives, while a small amount of power is great for putts. After confirming your power selection, it's time to actually swing the club. As this happens a close-up of the golf ball appears along with a speedy little cursor streaking its way across the ball. The location of the ball when you tap the A button corresponds to how you actually hit the ball. Will you top it or give it a firm whack from below? On-target shots happen most often when the cursor is located dead-center of the ball, but depending on the type of shot you're trying to pull off, you may not want to hit the ball smack in the center. It's all about planning and reflexes in the game of Golf.
There are only two modes of play in Golf: stroke play and tourament play. Stroke play challenges you to score par or less over eighteen holes, complete with sand traps, water hazards, tall trees, and other such obstacles. You play against yourself on as many holes as you like as you endeavor to beat your own high scores, drawing ever closer to par and better. Unfortunately the game does not retain your scores once you turn the Virtual Boy off, but as long as it's turned on you can review your best scores. Tournament play challenges you to beat forty-seven other golfers, all of them controlled by the Virtual Boy. You play your turn, then the CPU comes up with the other forty-seven turns in a matter of seconds, and this cycle repeats until all eighteen holes are complete. The golfer with the lowest score wins and passwords save your progress through the course, allowing you to break up the tournament into several sessions of play.
The best aspect of the game is the amazing visuals. While other sports titles are built around animated mascots, Golf strives for realism. Your character is an anonymous person who looks very much like an actual guy and not an animated character. Courses are rendered well and look almost real enough to be an actual picture of a real golf course (provided that course were painted red and photographed at night; like all Virtual Boy games the graphics only use the colors red and black). The background music is nothing special, but the sound of the swing of the club sounds almost real and occassional voices speak up when you break one of your own records.
Golf is one of the more common games in the used video game world and typically sells on eBay for $10. It's definitely worth tracking down if you're a golf fan, although the inability to save your scores may slow you down somewhat if you consider comparing old scores to new ones a pivotal part of the game. Play through a few rounds and you'll probably find that it's the golf game fore you.