Genre: Sports Developer: Coconuts Japan Ent. Publisher: Virgin Games Players: 1-2 Released: 1993
Chi Chi’s Pro Golf Challengemay be the most obscure golf game released for the Sega Genesis in North America. Actually, the release is actually known as Top Pro Golf in Japan and is a sequel to a game only released there by an unknown company called Coconuts Japan. Ringing any bells yet? No, probably not! I will say this though; for a game released in 1993 it sure looks and feels like an 8-bit game at best and is definitely not up to par with the then-current Golf games being released. It also plays pretty badly, to say the least. Let’s dive into this shallow end of the pool that is Chi Chi’s Pro Golf Challenge.
Chi Chi’s gives you all the menu basics you’d come to expect from a golf game. You get a stroke and a match play, a multi-player mode up to four players, and an overly long password system (if you ever managed to be good enough at this game to want to continue). Once you get through that mumbo jumbo you get to choose between four different characters to play as, all of whom come with cheesy name. Then, you choose a course in the USA or Japan. Both courses are obvious fantasy courses, and both would make even the pro golfers cry, as they’d be pretty miserable in real life.
I don’t know what it is, but the visuals really have an old 8-bit feel to them, and for some reason Power Golf on the Turbo Grafx-16 comes to mind. Each hole starts off with an overview showing the entire hole, tee, fairway, and green. The mechanics of the game actually have a fair amount of depth to them but still feel very 8-bit in nature and lack any real polish needed to provide your much needed accuracy in order to get pars on each hole. The game actually does tell you the distance of each club, which is a big plus and an even bigger help. It actually gives you a small grid in the corner that tells you the ball will fly through the air taking height and wind into consideration. You can’t pick your clubs before you start a game but it gives you the standard clubs needed so it works. The power meter is also very simple, and you actually choose where you want to hit the ball before you swing, which allows you to hook or slice the ball if you so choose.
The problems are numerous though. The power meter seems to be very random and inaccurate way too many times. This leaves you guessing about the power needed to hit a ball with when you’re in a bunker or the deep rough, and it’s very easy to throw a hole this way. The small map of the hole that the game gives you in the corner of the screen is just too small to make accurate drives, and many of the times that I swore my crosshair was aiming on the fairway my ball instead went way off into a bunker or against the wind.
Once I got to the green the mechanics are just broken and are the worst I’ve ever dealt with in an old golf game. The visual layout of the green is practically nonexistent. It’s pretty hard to describe without seeing it, but imagine if you will a still screen from a SNES game running in mode 7. It’s probably hard to picture, but that’s what it is. The game doesn’t put any arrows or marks to tell you where the hills or valleys are on each green, and when I often hit the ball the power was inconsistent, causing the ball to roll forward a few feet, do a 90 degree turn, and roll in a complete different direction than I putted. Yeah, it’s really as broken as it sounds.
Alright, now that I’m done griping I do have to point out the one merit the game deserves, and that’s the music. Chi Chi actually has several tunes during gameplay, and after every few holes it changes between a handful of different tracks. They’re not going to set the 16-bit era on fire musically, but they are really fitting and pleasing to the ear, and my favorite is the short tune that plays when the game shows you each hole. It’s just a nice, laid back and catchy tune that I would even put it on my iPod if I could. The sound effects are pretty unremarkable though and don’t live up to the quality of the music, so they’re not much to write home about.
When all is said and done, Chi Chi’s Pro Golf Challenge is a completely unremarkable golf game that by 1993’s standards both looked and played terribly. It might be worth noting to all of you out there who hated King’s Bounty and Guardian Legend for their crazy long password systems that this game has a password continue feature too, but it’s no joke, probably close to a hundred characters long. Not exactly something that compels me to want to continue such a dud of a game. In other words, leave this game alone!