by Wolf

Screenshots Courtesy of vgmuseum.com


US Title: Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf
Year: 1988
System: NES
Arcade Version? Yes, JAMMA


Before Tiger Woods, before MVS, before titanium clubs, there was Lee Trevino. With such notable quotes as “Ray Charles could have putted better" and "I'd give up golf if I didn't have so many sweaters,” Trevino became one of the most comical and charismatic golfers on the tour. Developed during the early years of video game golf, SNK sought to create the definitive video golf experience. Trevino's endorsement, combined with the production quality of SNK, looked to be a winning combination. In addition to being SNK’s first foray into the world of video game golf, it was also one of the few games to be officially endorsed by the “US National Video Game Team”. As one can imagine, with a top-notch endorsement like this, how bad can it be? Lets find out… 


Well, considering the age of the game, the graphics are not too bad. I’ve seen far worse graphics in NES games that need it more than this one. Considering that it was originally an arcade game, little is lost in the port. The colors are somewhat varied for an NES game and the characters well defined. Despite these plusses, the character animation is seriously lacking to the point where it is best described as, “purely functional”. Additionally, the NES lacks hardware scaling; so don’t expect to see hole flybys from any other angle than overhead. Shots are taken from a forward-looking perspective, behind the player, with an overhead view for aiming and putting. 


I think little needs to be said here. If you have ever played an NES, you know what to expect. The sound of a golf ball, coming in contact with a club head, is especially hard to replicate with such primitive sound hardware. 


Without gameplay, this game would be a lost cause. Fortunately, the gameplay is so good that is makes up for the archaic graphics and sound. The method of hitting the ball is similar to PGA Tour Golf II. One button press will begin the “swing meter”, another press will select the desired power of the swing, while a third press will control how square the head of the club is at impact. This method is simple to learn and yet difficult to master. This creates the same feel of uncertainty that a real golfer feels when he/she steps up to a ball. As in real golf, proficiency reduces the likelihood that the ball will go in unwanted directions.

Putting greens is a challenging, but fair endeavor. There is no sure-fire way to read the greens perfectly every time. While this may be an issue for some, I feel that it is unrealistic to think that you can perfectly calculate break every time.

  The physics are not perfectly realistic. This should come as no surprise given the vintage of this game. Despite the simple physics modeling, the game manages to avoid those awkward rolls, bounces, and tree collisions that most golf games of this era accept. It is a rare occasion that you will hit a shot and not understand why your ball lies as it does.

  As in most golf games, you can select a variety of games type from match play to skins. There are several courses to play on and multiple characters to choose from. 


To this day, this is still one of my favorite golf games. I have yet to find a modern golf simulation with a swing system as good as this one. For a whole $9.99 you can probably pick up a complete copy of this wonderful golf game and enjoy hours of gameplay. If you like Mario golf but can’t stand the role-playing aspect, this is the game for you. 

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