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RETRO Game Review - PGA Tour Golf (SNES)

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

Electronic Arts’ current annual Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Golf series owes its legacy and success to the original game PGA Tour Golf which was released on DOS computers in 1990 and ported to the likes of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System/Sega Mega Drive and, although basic by current standards, is still an entertaining golf sim.

I mentioned in my previous review for Aggressive Inline on the Nintendo GameCube that it was a peculiar and strange feeling to jump back into an old console game and all of the nostalgic feelings that comes with those old memories. Well, this was magnified when I delved into the Sterling Silver Software SNES port of PGA Tour Golf, a game that of the time of writing is now twenty-six years old.

Now, to state that the series has come a long way since then is as much of an understatement as to say that Tiger Woods was a relatively successful golfer. In terms of features and options it is very basic. There are four different golf courses to choose from (three of which are based on real courses) and there are only the options to play one hole or the full 18 rounds in a tournament against an unseen 60 AI competitors, as well as the option to practice putting or driving.

The four courses include a relatively realistic recreation of the Sawgrass course in Florida and graphically are pretty decent (again, for the time). Each of the holes is introduced with a text intro with comments or tips from a few of the golfers of the time which then lead into a fly-by of the hole. The sound design is fairly rudimentary with an irritating compressed theme song and only the thwack of the golf ball or the odd chirping of birds as you align your shot adding to the atmosphere.

Joe stared at the ball. It spoke to him. 'Kill'

However, it is still surprisingly fun to come back to and has a fair amount of depth for an early SNES title. The main feature it implemented which is still used in some golf titles on current consoles is the three-click style for swinging your golf club. It's a straight-forward system which allows you to aim and control the strength and accuracy of each swing. On harder difficulties the wind factor can really impact your play and when combined with the choice of clubs at your disposal there is a modicum of basic strategy which was novel for the time.

However, there are some menu interface issues which seem ridiculous that they were overlooked in the first place. Aside the grubby aesthetic they are also not the most intuitive. But this can be forgiven for a title almost as old as me and it must be said that as much fun as it is on single player, it is even better when playing with a few friends (up to four players can play together which was great considering most games of that era were mostly two player games).

For all the innovations and upgrades the series has seen over the years, there is something to be appreciated from the simplicity and charm of this original title and having played it all these years later it has actually surprised me for holding up in most respects.

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