It’s been over four months since the last time I reviewed a Super Nintendo game, and Jack Nicklaus Golf is the reason why. Playing this game was a soul-crushing experience, which completely drained me of the desire to have anything to do with my beloved SNES. Now though, the time has come to give JNG another shot… may the Golfing Gods have mercy on my soul.
At first glance, JNG doesn’t look that bad. The intro screen looks pretty good, by 16-bit standards, there’s some punchy menu screen music, even a bit of customization (in that you can choose your name, and one three, count ‘em, three club colours). There are two courses to choose from, and each round has some nominal variety in wind and weather conditions. So far, so good – and then you actually start playing the game, and everything falls apart.
Right away, you’re liable to notice the graphics, and how the game processes them. Though the in-game visuals are mediocre at best, and well below the SNES’s high-end capabilities, they’re rendered at an absolute snail’s pace. Each time you prepare for a new shot, the game stops dead to slowly draw in the terrain, before loading each tree and other background detail one at a time. The entire process takes nearly ten seconds, and while that might not sound like much, in practical terms it makes playing even a single hole completely insufferable. I honestly thought there might be a problem with my copy of the game, there’s no way this could have ever been shipped as a finished product, but no – that’s just how JNG rolls. Without hyperbole, this is the single slowest-loading cartridge-based game that I’ve ever seen.
The gameplay is in the standard for most golf games, a two-click system that determines the power and accuracy of each swing of the club. The problem is, there’s no sense of depth or scale, which makes it almost impossible to judge the distance to the hole, and unlike later and better games, JNG doesn’t provide any kind of marker or guide to know roughly what levels you should be aiming for. The whole experience just feels so dead and hollow, and that’s not helped by the near total lack of in-game sound, which is largely reduced to a monotonous whose-thud of club hitting ball.
JNG offers a password system, so if you walk away mid-game, you can later pick up where you left off. Not that you’d ever, ever want to, but credit where it’s due. The game also offers single hole and practice modes, including a virtual driving range, which is kind of the video game equivalent of a lifetime in purgatory. Despite the various game modes, there’s only one way to have any fun with a copy of Jack Nicklaus Golf, and that’s to use a nine iron to bash the damned thing to pieces.
Final Score – 1/10