Hello, and welcome back to Silver Linings where I've got the maligned, forgotten, and ignored teed up and ready to drive down the fairway.
I can safely call myself a fan of sports video games. Just about every sport is represented in my games library somewhere, including those mostly ignored like cricket and lacrosse. However, the one sport that I enjoy more than any other in video game form is golf.
I can consider myself an expert in the genre. In fact, I just concluded a four-year marathon where I covered in total 72 retro golf games from the Odyssey 2 to the Xbox, eighteen golf games a year for four years (Check it out at defunctgames.com!). I played almost every variation of using clubs to whack a ball toward a hole that exists. Now, to celebrate the conclusion of that long project, I think it's time to give my final picks for the eighteen golf games most worth loading up. While most of the picks on this list will be games I covered during the "Defunct Games Golf Club" (and I will link to the appropriate reviews), there will also be a few I couldn't cover during it because they were too new. Also, as usual, I'm only counting one game per franchise. In chronological order, here are the ones that truly deserve the title of "The Game of Kings."
'Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf' - NES
This is the oldest game on this list, and it's still a blast to play. It basically set many of the benchmarks that golf games would follow later. Check out my full take.
'Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf' - Genesis/MegaDrive
A 16-bit golf game that truly honors the legend himself that's just as easy to pick up and play as ever. The Genesis had no shortage of great golf games, and this easy ranks as one of the best. See my full review.
'Ninja Golf' - Atari 7800
When I said I tried almost every variation of golf video games, I MEANT IT! Yes, the connection to golf is sketchy at best, but I had way too much fun with it to ignore it! Here's the story.
'Awesome Golf' - Lynx
Leaving out the golf games made for smartphones, this is the best portable golf game I ever played, barely edging out Wonder Classic on the Wonderswan Color. It was easily worth putting up with the Lynx's pathetic battery life. Here's my hot take.
'Jack Nicklaus Golf' - Super Nintendo
Sculptured Software made several games featuring "The Golden Bear," but it wasn't until the Super Nintendo that it all came together. One of the best-looking games of the era, it also fixed all the issues that existed in the earlier games. Check out my review.
'Golf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples' - 32X
See? Even the much-maligned 32X add-on got a great golf game! Featuring "36 great holes" from 27 courses, this is basically a golf's greatest hits cartridge, and it was one of the few games that actually took advantage of that attachment you got suckered into buying. Here's more.
'VR Golf '97' - Saturn & PlayStation
Here was the next great evolution in the genre that's still fun to load up. Even though the later Actua Golf games (as they're known overseas) had more courses and features, the first had the tightest gameplay. Take a look.
'Tee Off' - Dreamcast
Here's a great one for the kids! The chibi characters are cute, and the mechanics are VERY forgiving. It even plays faster than a lot of games in the genre. Check out my review.
'Disney Golf' - PlayStation 2
It's Hot Shots Golf with Disney's loveable characters and power-ups. Do I even NEED to say anything else? If the answer's yes, here's my review.
'Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour' - GameCube
I've played almost all of the Mario Golf games (I haven't tried the 3DS one yet). The GameCube iteration is easily the best. Lots of characters and courses, the tightest gameplay in the series, and visuals that sparkle even now! See here for more details.
'Links 2004' - Xbox
Microsoft's entry was the only serious competition the PGA Tour franchise got at the time. It's packed with courses, options, and pros, and its visuals are almost on par with current gen stuff. Shame it can't still be played on Xbox Live. See here for more details.
'Outlaw Golf 2' - PlayStation 2 & Xbox
This one is not only my favorite golf game of all time, it's one of my favorite games PERIOD. The raunchy jokes always get me laughing, and the gameplay is some of the best the genre ever had. It even has brawls and golf cart races! Check here to see me gush about it some more!
'Eagle Eye Golf' - PlayStation 2
On the surface, this one may seem pretty standard. However, it had something truly mind-blowing for the time... a full-featured course creator that's incredibly easy to use and very detailed! It actually puts similar modes in PC games to shame! Click here for more!
'Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters' - Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & Wii
Of course, EA's definitive golf series had to show up somewhere, and most of them were among the finest console golf games ever made. The 2012 entry shined the brightest of all with the best-built career mode in the franchise, tons of challenges to complete, and (counting DLC) nineteen fantastic courses to play on, including Augusta. Even though the online doesn't work anymore, it's still one of the best pro golf games of the decade.
'Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational' - PlayStation 3 & Vita
Of course, Hot Shots/Everybody's Golf would show up in the Dream 18, and this one narrowly edged out the PlayStation 4 entry for a spot on the list. The courses are the best in the series, and the career mode is the most rewarding. You actually want to rack up the stars and crowns, and not just for the Trophies on your GamerCard.
'100Ft. Robot Golf' - PlayStation 4
Why did it take so long for this to get made? You get to play golf on oversized courses everywhere from the mountains to the moon in giant robots (each with their own mechanics), and you can destroy almost anything blocking your shots! You can even play this with PSVR! Awesome!!!
'The Golf Club 2019' - Xbox One & PlayStation 4
I was a believer in The Golf Club right from the beginning. In fact, the first game in the series was the first game I got for my Xbox One, and subsequent entries kept getting better. The newest excelled with the inclusion of the PGA Tour license, the addition of the TPC courses, tightening the analog swing, and providing more options for created courses than anyone would ever have time to make or play. I look forward to more from this series.
'Dog Gone Golfing' - PlayStation 4
This little indie game that Ally bought on a whim is pure crack! The courses can get devious as hell with all manner of obstructions from water hazards to falling meteors. It aggravated me more times than I can count, but I still wanted to keep going! The mechanics are simple, the physics engine is better than the one in Angry Birds, and the selection of canine characters is just adorable! You'll get tons of game time for just $5!
What do you think? Any more digital golf that deserves a spot in the Dream 18? Let me know, and thanks to everyone who joined me for this four-year tour! Off to the 19th!