Game Review: NES Open Tournament Golf
NES Open Tournament Golf

NES Open Title Screen

  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Released: September 1991
  • Game Type: Sports
  • Players: 1 or 2 [Sim]
  • Product Number: NES-UG-USA
  • Rarity: B- (Borderline Rare)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 9

    Box Scan
    NES Open Screen 1 NES Open Screen 2

    This golf title can be seen as an update to Nintendo's original Golf game, only it features Mario and friends taking to the green. On the surface it appears to be just another golf cart, or just an attempt to cash in on Mario's popularity, but it actually turns out to be one of the best golf titles on the Gray Box.

    This game features three different game modes, all taking place on three different golf courses (U.S., U.K. and Japan). One or two players can engage in either stroke play or match play. Stroke play is the standard golf where you try to complete the entire course in the fewest strokes possible, while Match play is the head-to-head competition where you try to win the most holes. In any case, once you pick your game and which course you're going to play on, it's off to the first tee. The main screen shows you the layout of the current course, while the panels on the side show distance from the hole as well as the par and wind direction. You choose choose the speed of your swing, from slow to fast. Slow swings are more accurate, while fast swings give you more power. Then you choose which club you want to use. The game will automatically suggest a club, but you can change it if you want. Next you choose whether to hit to ball normally or apply backspin or topspin on in. Finally you get a close-up of Mario (or Luigi) ready to swing. The game uses the standard "three-tap" meter for your swing; that means you hit Button A once to start the meter, hit it again to set your power and hit a third time for accuracy to swing the club. After that you just watch your ball flying through the air until it lands, then you do your next stroke or watch the other player take his turn. You have to watch out for water hazards; landing in one will cost you a stroke. Likewise hitting your ball into out-of-bounds areas will also cost you a stroke and require you to do your shot over. In addition trees and sand traps can also impede your progress. Once you reach the green you get a closer view of the layout and you use your putter to try and get your ball into the hole. Once teh ball goes in you're scored on whether you finished above or below par then move on to the next hole.

    This game's main feature is its one-player tournament mode. Here you try to win prize money by competing in tournaments on the three courses. You can choose either an 18-hole or 36-hole tournament in either stroke or match play. The gameplay works just like th other modes expect you have to keep track of the other golfers who are competing against you. Also there are occasional special conest holes like 'closest to the pin' or 'longest drive' where you can earn some extra cash. At the end of the tournament your position on the leaderboard determine how much money you receive, and naturally the higher you finish, the better the payout. You can also play some practice rounds to give yourself a higher ranking going into each competiton. This game has a battery save to record your progress in case you can't finish a tournament and would like to continue later, and it also keeps tracks of your winnings. The ultimate goal is to play through enough tournaments to accumulate a total of $1 million.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    Both the graphics and sounds are first-rate for a golf cartridge. All of the courses are well drawn, and the screens showing Mario and Luigi swinging their club are done pretty well with some smooth animation. You even get some nice closeups of your ball going into the cup or landing in a sandtrap. As far as the audio goes, each course has its own theme music, which is pretty catchy and fun to listen to. If you don't like it you can alway turn it off in the options menu. The sound effects are great, such as your club hitting the ball, the rustle of your ball going through the trees, the splash when it lands in a water hazard and so on.

    The controls work very well. The in-game menus during your shot are easy to navigate and never seem cumbersome. The "three-tap" method of hitting your ball is pretty easy to use, though it may take some practice to get the timing down so you don't constantly shank your shot.

    Challenge & Playability:
    NES Open is a flat-out fun game to play. It's very easy to pick up and very addicting, plus the three courses and different options give it plenty of variety. You only play head-to-head with the computer in the match play mode, but the CPU golfer gives you a good challenge without being too unfair; you'll mainly lose from your own miscalculations. This game is especially fun when you try your luck against another player in either mode. There's also several ways to customize the game, such as choosing the clubs you want to carry around and setting the names of the tournament participants. The ability to save our progress in the tournaments is a plus, and there's even some nice little touches such as instant replay of your previous swing and a hall-of-fame section, which keeps track of any birdies, eagles, albatrosses or Holes-in-One you make and records them so you can go back and see them at any time.

    There's no doubt that Nintendo has scored a hole-in-one with NES Open as this is one of the best 8-bit golf games around. Everything about this game is done well, from the graphcis and sounds to the addiciting gameplay, and it even compares favorably to the PGA Tour games on the 16-bit systems. Overall this is a great game for Mario fans, golf fans or NES fans in general.

    - Review posted on July 16, 2008