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ESPN Final Round Golf 2002 Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 71%
ESPN Final Round Golf 2002
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ESPN Final Round Golf 2002 ESPN Final Round Golf 2002 ESPN Final Round Golf 2002 ESPN Final Round Golf 2002
  • Review Score:

  • B
The Game Boy Advance was the first major upgrade from the original Game Boy; no, I don't count the Game Boy Color. When it launched, there was the need to show off how much more advanced (excuse the pun) it was over the original gray bricks. As I mentioned when I reviewed Twisted Metal, launch titles tend to prioritize showing off the tech over being great games on their own. It becomes an even bigger crap-shoot when a company decides to experiment at the same time.

Konami is known for the Pro Evolution Soccer series now which has held its own against EA's FIFA series. However, back in the late 90s and early 2000s, Konami was very inconsistent. After trying to resurrect Blades of Steel, they decided to start throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. These experiments became bigger when they acquired the ESPN license, leading to another attempt to create a golf game following very few sporadic attempts. Combining Konami's inexperience in the genre with the launch mentality I mentioned could've equaled a complete disaster, but ESPN Final Round Golf 2002 came out of it decently enough.

ESPN Final Round Golf 2002 (Game Boy Advance)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The launch mentality is plain as day when a game is started up. The down-the-fairway views and the flyovers show that the GBA could do the Mode 7 effects that the original Game Boy couldn't. That said, those views are absolutely hideous. The ground is a blurry blob, the occasional trees look stamped on, and the character models look like lifeless mannequins. Even the effects when a perfect shot is pulled off are lame. Konami failed in their attempt to make the game look advanced (excuse the pun again).

However, once you get passed the revolting attempts to show off the hardware, a very good golf game shows itself. The five courses offered are well-designed, challenging but fair. The characters offered cover the whole spectrum of abilities and are well-balanced; there's a character for every type of golfer. Tournament, stroke, match, and practice modes are all available. While the Mode 7 views look terrible, the top-down views used for aiming and the ball flight are quite impressive with crisp visuals the original Game Boy couldn't do. The three-click swing mechanics work well but offer little challenge; I could get perfect shots three out of four times.

ESPN Final Round Golf 2002 failed to show off the Game Boy Advance's capabilities for the most part, but it succeeded in being a very good portable golf game. I was enjoying myself enough to stomach the uglier parts. I truly wish Konami kept up the momentum. I would've wanted to see them do something more advanced (one pun too many?).
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