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Ninja Golf

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Released: 1990

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Atari 7800

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Blue Sky

Submitted by: John Delaney

Seriously. Ninja Golf. Golf, but with ninjas. This game was a genuine cracker, making every effort to be as serious as possible with both of its halves, knowing full well that they make absolutely no sense together. Classic deadpan comedy.

You play as a trainee ninja about to undergo the final test before graduating as a… not-trainee ninja: Nine holes on the most difficult golf course ever devised. The actual golf part itself is fine. You use the little map in the corner to calculate your shot, judge the strength of your swing and so on. Once the shot is taken, your ninja must run in a straight line until he reaches the ball, making his way across whatever terrain is in his path.

The action now switches to a side-scrolling beat-em up style with ninjas and wild animals leaping at you from every side. Most can be dispatched with a few kicks, but you also have a very tight supply of shurikens to deal with tricky enemies. The terrain dictates the type of enemy you'll face: moles on the fairway, snakes and invisible ninjas in the bunkers and sharks in the water. You can therefore try to plan your route around the golf course; fairway is easier but sticking to it might take longer, meaning that you’ll have to defeat more enemies. And so on.

Reach the green and you'll face off against the boss, a fire-spitting dragon. Viewed from behind your ninja, you must hit him with shurikens as he moves around the green firing bolts of flame at you. The boss for each hole is the same, but they get much harder; the last one fills the screen with fire and moves almost too fast to hit.

There are no jokes in the game. Not one. The game itself is the joke. And it’s frickin’ hilarious. It’s not crap either, it might be simplistic compared to other beat-em ups or golf sims but it is fun to play.