Jack Nicklaus’ Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf

aJack Nicklaus Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf USA 208x294 Jack Nicklaus Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDeveloper: Sculptured Software
Publisher:
 Konami

Released:
 March 1990
US Cartridge ID: NES-JC-USA

Players:  4, Alternating
Genre: Golf
Supported Peripherals: Controller

ROM Size: 1 megabit
Mapper: UNROM (128k PRG)

Requires Flash10

As a port of Accolade’s 1988 PC game, Konami’s Jack Nicklaus’ Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf for the NES does an admirable job of recreating the core experience with few concessions made.  For his first starring role in a video game, the winner of 18 major golf championships selected his 18 favorite holes from famous American and British courses, all brought together as a  showcase piece for the pro Jack Nicklaus Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf USA 002 256x2241 Jack Nicklaus Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf NES Nintendo Review Screenshotgolfing world. Drawing from Pebble Beach, Muirfield, St. Andrews, Augusta, and more, fans of the PGA Tour will be comfortably familiar with each of the holes on show.

Before hitting the links, players must set up the conditions of the game. Both stroke play (for lowest score overall) and skins play (for money based on per-hole performance) are available for up to four players. Each player may choose their gender, skill, and which tee they will begin at for each hole, allowing for some customization of difficulty. Computer opponents may also fill in during a game if the player so desires, the most capable being Mr. Nicklaus himself.

Each hole begins with a headshot of the Golden Bear, informing the player of which real-life course the hole mirrors, followed by an overhead map that indicates the hole layout, length, and any hazards that may be present. Once at the tee box, the player has several factors that must be carefully weighed in order to make a good shot: the direction and strength of the wind are represented by a meter on the bottom left of the screen, the ball’s current distance from the hole  and expected shot distance from the currently selected club are outlined across the bottom, aim can be adjusted relative to the flag at the top of Jack Nicklaus Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf USA 067 256x224 Jack Nicklaus Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf NES Nintendo Review Screenshotthe screen, and the shot meter lines the left side. The shot meter requires a great deal of precision, as it controls shot power, shot accuracy, and ball contact. A badly timed swing will often result in an ugly slice, hook, or at worse, a whiff; with some practice, however, picture perfect shots are very possible under most conditions. Putting utilizes the same setup, though the break of the green replaces the wind as the primary obstacle.

Jack Nicklaus‘ graphics are well detailed, with good golfer animations and clear renderings of each course. Differences between the rough, the fairway, the green, water hazards, bunkers, cart paths, and out of bounds areas are all easily distinguished by some clever color dithering and good attention to detail, unobtrusively skirting the limitations of NES’ limited color palette. This is marred, however, by the loading time that this level of detail requires: for each shot, the game takes about six seconds to render the new scene
piece by piece. While it is certainly tolerable, the pace of the game is considerably slowed because of it. The screen must also be redrawn every time a menu is accessed or the Jack Nicklaus Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf USA 090 256x224 Jack Nicklaus Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf NES Nintendo Review Screenshotplayer adjusts the direction that their in-game avatar is standing in. The sound is typical of a golf game – there is very little music, and the sound effects are the standard smacks and pings featured in most 8-bit golf games. The minimalist sound design works in the game’s favor, closely mirroring that of a televised golf event, though the overly-distorted voice sample on the title screen (“Nice shot!”) is a bit gratuitous.

While Jack Nicklaus’ Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf doesn’t add many features to differentiate itself from other golf games, the polish on the gameplay mechanics make it one of the best available for the NES. Though the replayability is limited by the inclusion of only one course, mastering that one course is quite the challenging, yet enjoyable, experience. Jack’s brand of golf might not be as good as NES Open Tournament Golf, but it happily sits in second place.

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Konami, 3/1990
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Konami, 6/1991