GolfBuy this gameThe Game: Rouse your caddy, grab your golf bags, and get ready to hit the digital green. A series of crafty virtual courses awaits, with trees, sand traps and water hazards standing between you and the hole. (Atari, 1980)

See the videoMemories: Whoa now, what’s this then? Foreshadowing a trend that would characterize Atari’s sports game output for the rest of the 2600’s life span, a game that had already been issued on the VCS was revisited, with better graphics and game play. Atari already had Miniature Golf on the market, but it was golf-by-way-of-squares-and-rectangles, not something that a casual observer would look at and say, without prompting, that it resembled golf in any way. (I’d say it was subpar, but let’s not putter around.)

GolfNow, the sport was getting another swing on the 2600, and it seemed that Golf‘s designers were very closely patterning this new game on Odyssey2 Computer Golf!. Yes, I am, in fact, saying that Atari ripped off an O2 game. Go look for yourself – and check the dates. Computer Golf was on the market for two years – plenty of time to study how it works and plays. Golf on the VCS did add a few things – sand traps and water hazards – and it also left a few elements at the clubhouse, namely the on-screen golfer’s tendency to throw a fit if he drove his ball into a tree.

Other than that, however, it’s virtually exactly the same game, right down to the way players aim their shots and determine how much power to put behind them. Criticisms of originality and source material aside, this is probably as good as golf was going to get on the VCS – the graphics are colorful (I’ll admit that they’re more colorful than the O2 game) and flicker-free.

4 quartersHow this remarkable similarity in games managed not to come up in the infamous “K.C. Munchkin trial,” I’ll never know. If I was Magnavox, I would’ve been more than a little bit teed off.