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Released in 1989, the Game Boy took the United States by storm as every kid was now able to play mobile video games. In 1992, Konami developed and released “Ultra Golf” for the Game Boy. In this Ultra Golf review, we’ll hit the links and compete in a tournament as I blow a lead and lose the green jacket. Let’s tee up and swing away!
Ultra Golf Plot:
It’s golf…I mean it’s ultra golf but unless it’s Tiger Woods snorting coke and banging waitresses, the goal of this game is to keep it in the fairway and your stroke count down.
Ultra Golf Gameplay:
I didn’t know what to expect when playing Ultra Golf. I’m quite fond of the Game Boy but for other reasons not related to sports games. I didn’t know if Ultra Golf would be fun or if I’d even be able to tell where the golf ball was on the course or how realistic the game would be. In real life, I’m a terrible golfer. There’s the rare occasion where I play out of my mind and birdie a hole or two but for the most part my days of golfing revolve around searching for my ball in the tall grass and missing easy putts. It’s a good thing my friends suck just as bad.
However, in Ultra Golf I was pleasantly surprised by how in-depth the gameplay would be for a tiny handheld game. Ultra Golf offers two different courses. I only played the first course, so I can’t speak for the second but I imagine that the second course ramps up the difficulty. I didn’t bother practicing so I jumped right into the tournament mode.
The mechanics are quite good and easy to pick up on. Even if you aren’t a talented golfer or have knowledge of the clubs you need to use, the game gives you the distance from the pin and the power of the clubs so you know if you used that club and used the max power, that’s where the ball would go.
You can look at each hole before swinging which is helpful when determining what direction you need to hit the ball toward. I was worried about the graphics and how they’d hold up but you can clearly determine what’s what including the sand traps, water, the fairway, and trees.
Swinging the club is a smooth action, you can select where you intend to hit the ball and how hard you hit it with a power meter. There’s a sweet spot that you need to hit each time during the meter and this will determine whether you have a great swing or not. During the first few holes of the tournament, I birdied a few holes and gained confidence. It was neat to see my name on the leaderboard after each hole.
My arrogance, however, was my downfall. The tournament was 18 holes and around hole 10 I started to mess up. Maybe my nerves got to me but if you don’t hit the sweet spot perfectly in the meter, your swing will be terrible. There were a few times that I just missed the sweet spot and went over the maximum power. When this happens, the golfer whiffs at the ball knocking it only a few feet off the tee. This started to kill my score and I quickly found myself out of first place and tumbling down the leaderboard. Even though my lead shrank and I found myself trying to climb back into first place, the tournament was enjoyable from start to finish, and with a bit of practice, I bet I’d be wearing the green jacket in no time.
Putting is fun in Ultra Golf and it was the easiest part of the game for me. The green will give you hints with the slants so you’ll know where to hit the ball. It’s not just as simple as hitting the ball toward the cup, sometimes you have to hit it a few feet to the right or left, or you have to barely tap it as it rolls down the hill. It’s almost a puzzle within the game and it was another element of fun during my Ultra Golf review.
I don’t have too many games for the Game Boy and I don’t know if I’d enjoy this game as a kid, but now as an adult I really enjoyed it. My only memory of this game is searching for it at used video game stores in hopes that they’d have a copy that I could buy. I never found it which surprised me but I’d love to have it.
Ultra Golf Review Score:
Ultra Golf has just about everything you could possibly want in a golf simulator for the Game Boy. The controls are easy to learn, and when you mess up it’s on you. If you aren’t sure what clubs to use, the game helps with showing you the power of each one and where the ball would go if you used it. That helps a lot when you are on the fairway and don’t know whether you should you your pitching wedge or three-iron. Even if you don’t play golf in real life, it’s a relaxing game that I would gladly play during a car ride for an hour or two. In fact, I did just that after reviewing it. I don’t remember the sound effects or music but you don’t need the bells and whistles for a golf game, after all, golf is all about focus and silence. If you have a Game Boy and enjoy sports games or just want a casual game that you can pick up and play for twenty minutes or three hours, Ultra Golf is where it’s at!
Ultra Golf scores an 8.5 out of 10.
What would you write in your Ultra Golf review? What did you think of Ultra Golf when it first came out? Were you able to master the tournaments and leave as a champion or did you falter like I did and lose the lead? Did you play it during long car rides? Let me know your thoughts and memories of Ultra Golf, I’d love to read them!