The Game: You face a test of your skills in the time-honored way of the Ninja: you must survive a game of golf. But you’re not the only Ninja on the course, and apparently you are the only Ninja who’s got a bullseye painted on his back. Before you can say “Crouching Tiger Woods, Hidden Dragon,” you must fend off attackers, including pesky gophers and alarmingly large frogs, in between putts. When you reach the green, a large dragon will attack you, as large dragons are wont to do on the green. Defeat the dragon and you advance to the next hole; do not defeat the dragon, and it will leave a hole in you. (Atari, 1990)
Memories: This utterly bizarre little game is almost like somebody’s idea of a spoof game, something you’d see if there was a Weird Al Signature Series for the 7800. But no, Ninja Golf was an actual mainstream 7800 title – well, that is, if you consider the 7800 mainstream – and proof that someone, somewhere at Atari, was thinking way outside the box.
What makes it all even funnier is that Ninja Golf is a decent game. The controls are smooth and simple, and there aren’t a zillion combo moves to remember. Honestly, I rate this game much higher than anything else in the Street Fighter-esque genre that it’s making fun of. The comical absurdity of it all is just the cherry on the icing on the cake.
The scary thing is, it’s not really a bad game of golf either. You just have to literally fight your way through a crowd to follow your ball across the course – only this time you can fight with throwing stars (or, as the game’s graphics and docs curiously call them, “whiffing stars”). There could’ve been a whole series of these games, and I still would’ve been laughing. Ninja Golf is good, goofy, genre-bending fun.