Genre: Sports Developer: Polygames Publisher: Electronic Arts Players: 1-4 Released: 1992
I don’t know what it is, but try as I might but I just can’t get into the sports genre of video games. It’s not to say that I hate them, because I at times I really like playing a baseball sim, or heck even hockey, but I have to be in the right mood and maybe the planets have to be in the right alignment or something like that, I don’t know. What I do know is that golf is the one sport that draws me in and arouses my interest, and despite it being rather slow and methodical, it holds my attention. I love the new Tiger Woods games on the current consoles and like many of the golf games on the NES and the PC and loved 36 Great Holes on the 32X, but try as I might I just can’t get into the first few PGA Tour offerings from Electronic Arts, be it the SNES, Genesis or any other console for that fact. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something missing from them.
I guess I should start out with describing what the game is like before I try to explain why I’m not fond of it. If you’ve played the original PGA Tour Golf then you’ll be right at home here, if you actually like that game (which I didn’t) then you should really like this one as it’s almost the same game with seven courses and a ton more options. The PC Windows style menus are still here, the same controls and handling for the putting and driving is still here. When you are on the green pressing A will still bring up the grade screen so you can plan your putt. All of the trappings of a solid in depth golf sim are here in their fullest.
Once you decide what mode you want to play out of five tournament modes, a skins game, a practice game or simply a driving range or a putting green you get to decide what clubs you want to bring along then choose one of six real life courses or a fantasy course made specifically for this game, then you get to choose between amateur or professional T’s, and then it’s time to start the game.
The drive/swing meter works exactly the same that it does in every other 16-bit golf game, hit B once to start, B again at the peak of the meter then B once more when the meter returns where you have to line it up just right to get a straight drive. The game gives us a few types of shots such as a chip shot or a punch shot to get out of a bunker or away from a tree easier. The game is way tough though. Even if you got good at the original PGA game, this sequel will simply slap you around without practice. The courses are for the professionals only, and they have been emulated here pretty faithfully so practice is key. The wind plays a much bigger role here, and several of the courses seem to have very erratic wind currents which makes you constantly have to pay attention to your strokes and where you’re aiming. Judgment of the wind is essential.
The game emulates the real thing as faithfully as you could hope for on a 16-bit console, but that is also its undoing. The wind is simply erratic in some of the courses, it will be blowing 18-20 mph one way then blow the opposite way a second later and keep doing that for an entire eighteen-hole course, and it gets quite tedious and really makes some of the longer strokes a shot in the dark. Sometimes I was a hair off of the center line on the meter during a drive and the ball went almost straight then another time I might as well have thrown a boomerang because I was a hair off and the ball would hook or slice completely off the screen and land far out in the heavy rough. None of these problems occurred real often, but it seemed just when I was on a role and got a par on a few holes my next drive would not even go remotely close to where I aimed it. It also seemed like the power meter was sporadic at times. Again it wasn’t all the time, but it seemed to be far too sensitive and had a mind of its own.
My other big complaints about PGA Tour Golf II are in the graphics and sound departments. Both are underwhelming, to say the least, and if the game is graphically better than the first one it’s barely noticeable. There are seven courses and so many options this time that it seems like there wasn’t enough cartridge space for improved graphics and sound. So now lets talk about the sound. The sound effects are about as good as it gets: the sound of a club hitting a ball and the sounds of the ball hitting the ground or landing in the cup are accurate and great, but there’s not much more than that. I don’t know what a hole in one sounds like but a par and an eagle only nets you a simple clap from the audience, and it’s pretty weak at that. Eighteen holes can take quite long to finish on one of the longer courses so the sounds of the club and the ball and the ambient background effects get pretty old real fast. The only time there’s any music is when you start or finish a game, and it’s only for a few seconds.
I know I’m probably going to take some heat from fans of the PGA series here, but so be it. To me this game is too hard (which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself), but that coupled with being rather ugly and not having much to listen to really kept me from getting sucked into things anymore than I did. It’s far from a bad game, and I really like the newer PGA games and even more so the Tiger Woods series so I’m not bashing this game unduly because it’s a sports game, but it needed to learn from its predecessors. Polygames needed to remove a few of the too many courses and spend more time in the graphics and audio area. As much as I hate to admit it, I like Arnold Palmer and 36 Holes better. Both had less game play overall, but Arnold Palmer did the sound right and 36 Holes did the graphics right, and this game only got the gameplay partly right, but it was longwinded when it needed a perfect balance of all three so it feels barely above average to me.
SCORE: 6 out of 10