What Golf Was Like Long Before EA Bought Tiger Woods.
"True Golf Classics: Pebble Beach Golf Links ", apart from being one of the longest-named games on the Super NES, is one of the few golf games ever released on this system. As far as I can find, there are only six or seven titles for the Super NES, (and I will get to reviewing those too). Just as this cart's title states, we are about to take on some of the most beautiful and revered eighteen-holes anywhere in the world: Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Pebble Beach, California (to be precise) is where the action takes place. And, after a fairly detailed title-screen featuring a digitised still from the 7th (I believe), ocean-view and all, we are taken to the title screen for some pre-round setup. The options are quite simple, and, no, you cannot play on any other course. Pebble Beach it is. You will get to know the course very well, as you can imagine. Next up, there is a strange choice of selecting initials for your character. There are no real-life golfers here, just a fairly well imaged generic man - but I'm talking generic here, (I couldn't even see any facial features).
What is strange however, is the seemingly very important choice players face next: your Caddie. A choice out of four very unusual looking caddies I must say. Don't think "Caddyshack", but more along the lines of a used-car salesman crossed with a sex-offender. One has the awful name of "Dawg", and a terrible handle-bar mustache to go along with it. Anyhow, after this selection, and a little "Good luck!" message-box, we're underway.
For an older game, the shot-mechanics are fairly flexible. Obviously, you adjust your aim by hitting a direction on the D-pad, (the screen then reloads the new image), and obviously, you can select your club, stance (curvature), and ball-striking position. You can see that the variables can add up to a decently adaptable swing and shot combo. There is however, little control over spin. As like most games from this genre, the swing-control itself is displayed as a circular power-meter that fills automatically - it is the players job to hit a button to stop this meter at the desired power-level. Get to greedy and you might over-shoot MAX-power only to hit a dribble-shot. That's right - the power meter cycles one-way only.
Graphically, this game is clear and quite colourful. Of course, the green wash of the course itself is the dominant colour, but the trees water and sand look good enough, although they are exceedingly simplified, (this game is not truly 3D-rendered). The animation of the swing is good enough, but nothing you haven't noticed enough before in other games. Another interesting feature that is quite uncommon in this genre is that if you hit up (or down), the point-of-view actually lifts into the air. This gives you a semi-fly-by perspective on the course, and you can notice that the "draw-distance", for lack of the actual term, is fairly distant and well-scaled.
Golf-fans would of liked this game when it was initially released. It is a fairly accurate simulation experience, although quite a nameless and faceless one. There is quite a bit to play around with on each shot, but it must be said that the insanely difficult putting display would test even the most seasoned golfers patience. Overall, the production values are good, but nothing fancy. The menus themselves are devoid of any character, but are eerily reminiscent of a Microsoft Windows 3.1 application, come to think of it.
The Bottom Line
There is not much reason to return to this game today, what with even the most simple hand-held games probably bettering it, but, for interested golf-sim fans, this is a nice trip into the past as it shows you just how things were done before EA conquered golf by signing up Woods.