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Bandai Golf: Challenge Pebble Beach Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 20%
Bandai Golf: Challenge Pebble Beach
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  • Review Score:

  • D
Standards changed dramatically when the NES came on the scene. The kinds of things that were excusable during the second generation just didn't fly anymore. That was definitely seen with golf games. Just providing an 18-hole digital golf course was no longer enough. In fact, if any third-gen golf game wanted to get away with having only one course on the cartridge, it had to do at least one of two things. It either had to provide an absolute doozy of a course that's a joy to play, or it had to provide enough modes and options to justify returning to the same course again and again. Unfortunately, Bandai Golf didn't come anywhere close to those marks.

If there's one thing I have to credit, it's the ambition. Bandai Golf: Challenge Pebble Beach was one of the first attempts to recreate a real golf course in digital form. Pebble Beach in California is one of the most famous courses in the world, known for its severe elevation changes, the points where the ocean cuts into the fairway, and its often severe ocean winds. All of those elements were recreated faithfully here. The game plays from an overhead view with a profile running along the top of the screen to show the elevation changes. The winds do get brutal on the holes along the sea. For the time, it was a very good recreation of the course.

Bandai Golf: Challenge Pebble Beach (NES)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It's a shame that the recreation of the course worked so well since everything else about the game is crap. The mechanics are a joke. The aiming cursor tended to jump, making precise aiming needlessly difficult. The three-click swing was royally botched. The meter speeds up and slows down almost at random. Worse, there's no consistency at all. There were times where being way off on the third click yielded better shots that hitting it dead-on. Don't even get me started on the wonky putting controls. Also, despite Bandai going out of their way to get the elevation on the course right, it barely factors into the game at all. There were points where the ball landed on a major downhill slope but barely rolled. At the real Pebble Beach, a landing like that could easily get another forty or fifty yards just from the roll.

The options are absolutely pathetic even for the time. If even PGA Golf on the Intellivision could provide four players with shared controllers, there's no excuse for this one to be limited to two players. Likewise, only providing stroke play at that point was inexcusable since adding a match play option was standard even for the time. The visuals aren't even that impressive for the era. Hell, Chip Shot on the Intellivision had more visual flair than Bandai Golf, and that one released two years prior.

Bandai Golf: Challenge Pebble Beach did provide an impressive recreation of Pebble Beach for the time but provided no incentive to play it. If you want to take on the legendary course, there are plenty of much better games that feature it to choose from. This is one challenge that needs to be declined.
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