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Jack Nicklaus' Greatest 18 Holes of Championship Golf (NES) artwork

Jack Nicklaus' Greatest 18 Holes of Championship Golf (NES) review

"So many sports games found ways onto video game systems of all kinds. Surprisingly, one of the sports video games I hear about the most (though mostly on the older systems) and one of the sports video games I've most often played isn't football, baseball, or hockey -- it's golf! So when I had the chance to buy Jack Nicklaus Golf for under one dollar, I scooped it up as fast as I could and hoped for an excellent golfing experience, surpassing that of even one of the oldest NES golf games, ..."

So many sports games found ways onto video game systems of all kinds. Surprisingly, one of the sports video games I hear about the most (though mostly on the older systems) and one of the sports video games I've most often played isn't football, baseball, or hockey -- it's golf! So when I had the chance to buy Jack Nicklaus Golf for under one dollar, I scooped it up as fast as I could and hoped for an excellent golfing experience, surpassing that of even one of the oldest NES golf games, named... well, Golf! Unfortunately, I found myself only disappointed by this bland production.

When the game begins, you first have to choose how many players you plan to golf with; up to four players total are allowed. Then, once that information is filled in, each player has to practically fill a survey to continue, while being asked their name, gender, skill, and tee type. Of course if you really don't feel like filling this all out (which I normally don't), you can just press enter to continue with the game.

When each hole begins, you are first presented with the name of the hole and some stupid Jack Nicklaus quote, like ''The hardest shot in all of golf,'' as if I really care. Then, you are taken to a small map of the current course, as well as being provided with the distance and par information. This map screen is very good for analyzing the course so you know what to expect, but it automatically takes you to start of the hole within 4 seconds, hardly giving you any time to look at anything! Usually this may not affect the outcome of the game, but it also causes holes where you start off facing a line of trees, without even knowing if a lake or other hazard lies beyond it, all because the game didn't give you any time to look at the map. Then when you hear a splash after swinging your club, what are you supposed to do, complain to the management?

But anyway, the standard stroke during a hole is decent enough, besides the loading times, which I will mention later. You are provided with the standard choice of clubs, and they can also give you the average hitting distance of each club, perhaps being the feature I like most about the game. You are also given a wind gauge so that you can determine which way your ball will sway after hitting it. A little bar at the top of the screen will show you which direction you will be hitting, and a bar at the side provides you with an example of how much power you'll let out while you swing. At the very center of the screen, you face the back of your golfer as he bends over with his club, waiting and ready to swing.

Even though the standard stroke is somewhat decent, there are two major flaws that spark my dislike for this game, the first -- and most annoying -- being the loading time for each screen during a hole. Every single time the screen changes so you can take another stroke, you have to wait another 8 seconds-or-so for the screen to load. The graphics appear piece-by-piece until they are fully developed, but the whole process takes close-to ten seconds to do, and that becomes very, very annoying. I think I would rather settle for worse graphics that have to wait for this to load every time, and the graphics aren't even all that great!

The second biggest problem that I really dislike is the difficulty in putting. Your golfer will be placed in a direction as close to the hole as possible, though it's pretty stupid that the game won't let you point straight to the hole once you first try to putt. Then, you have to move a little bar at the top of the screen to determine the direction you will putt the ball. The problem is, even with the line at the top of the screen, putting directions are still hard to determine. When you also take into account the power which you have to hit the ball and the way the green hill slopes, putting becomes such a chore to do.

There really isn't much to worry about in the game's control. Really all you have to do is control the putter you use, the direction the ball will head, and the swing of your club. All this activity is covered in only a few buttons, so the controls are basically easy to remember. They all run smoothly and nicely, so I'll give it some merits here.

The graphics, on the other hand, are something to frown on. I don't usually care much about the graphics of a game, but when each screen has to load for 8 seconds, I'd hope for something great looking. This game accomplishes nothing of the kind. The golfer during each stroke and the mountains in the distance are the only things that actually look very nice. The trees look fine as well, but only when they're in the distance; close up, they're very blocky. The courses and fields are rather plain, though. They did break up the fields into different kinds and colors of grass, but each colored block uses mostly just one boring color or design to fill it in. The only good the thing the course's look accomplishes is being able to distinguish between the green, the lakes, the trees, etc. But it really doesn't accomplish much more than that.

Music is only something you hear between holes. In fact, I believe there may only be one song in the whole game. This one song is somewhat nice to hear, but certainly nowhere near being a masterpiece. I do think a little bit of low-volume music playing during a stroke may have been a very nice addition. Any way you look at it, music is very much lacking in the game.

The sound effects, on the other hand, are pretty good. Few as they may be, each sound accomplishes what it was made to do. The splash of the ball hitting a lake is pretty good, as is the sound of hitting a sand trap. The only sound effect I dislike is the opening digitized voice when you start the game. The voice sounded slurred, so it took me a while before I figured out he was saying, ''Good shot!'' But, ignoring this mistake, they did do a nice job with the sound effects, I must say. If only more attention had been paid to some of the other aspects of the game.

The challenge in Jack Nicklaus Golf depends on the difficulty setting you choose when you take the game's initial ''survey.'' A good score isn't too hard to get, but it may take quite some time with the flimsy putting method they use. In fact, a few holes had me putting almost a dozen times until I was finally able to make the hole, and this was set on easy! Maybe challenge really isn't all that bad, but the little flaws could have definitely been fixed to make it easier. Sure, there is a small challenge offered to get a good score, but this challenge is presented in a bad way.

With so many problems with the game to see, it doesn't appeal much to play over and over. Such in-game flaws would make a different golf game so much appealing to play instead of this. I have yet to find myself going gaga over this game. If I wanted to play a golf video game, chances are that I'd grab for something else, as this game is just too hard to get into.

As I said, if you want a really good NES golf game, take my advice and get something other than this one. If you just want something that won't cost a lot, then maybe this is more for you, as long as you don't mind putting up with the problems you have to face. But if you buy this game and find yourself disappointed with it, as I was, don't say I didn't warn you. As far as I'm concerned, Jack Nicklaus Golf is riddled with too many annoying flaws to be considered much of a good game.


Gameplay (5/10): Standard strokes are decent to play through, but putting is ridiculous.
Control (8/10): Not much to control, so therefore, not much to complain about here.
Graphics (4/10): For the long screen loading, I'd at least expect something that looks good.
Music (4/10): No music where some would have been nice. Only one song, which is only decent.
Sound (8/10): I have to give them credit, at least the sound effects are very nice.
Challenge (6/10) Due to bad putt control, good scores can become hard to maintain.
Replay (4/10): There isn't much that will make you want to return to this game.

Overall (4/10) This just isn't a good golfing effort. They could have done better.

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