To write down all the stellar Super Nintendo games ever released, one would need a scroll as long as east to west. The system was blessed with countless classics, no doubt one reason why it was so beloved back then, and is still revered to this day. And while folks throw out their personal favorite recommendations, in all my years as an SNES enthusiast there is one game I’ve never heard anyone praise or tout prior to 2011. In fact, up to that point there wasn’t even a YouTube video of this game! That’s how obscure and unknown this game once was. For the past half decade plus I have been championing this game to the masses, and thankfully many more gamers have experienced the same kind of joy with it as I have over the years. Most recently, a fan translation was put out in February 2016 which caused even further exposure. Everyone I’ve known who has played this game has nothing but good things to say. That’s a sign that a game did something right!
GOOD LOOKING OUT EGM!
I first discovered this game many moons ago thanks to EGM issue #62, September 1994. Billed as OB Club, the screenshots stole my gaming heart. With normal and silly courses alike, it looked like a really fun game. Two months later, EGM printed a full page preview on the game (issue #64, November ’94). I knew I had to get it some day. I had to play it. Many years later, when I got back into the SNES in early 2006, I tracked the title down as BS Out of Bounds Golf. Sadly, it was never released. Only available in online form, it was one of those BS-X Satellaview releases — a Super Famicom satellite modem add-on that operated in the late ’90s. BS Zelda is perhaps the most popular BS-X game. But don’t sleep on BS Out of Bounds Golf. It’s wickedly charming and devious like very few SNES games are…
Select from three different modes. I personally prefer Stroke Play as it’s every man or woman or, er, animal (more on this in a bit) for him or her or, er, itself. Match Play games are faster however due to the bar being set by the lowest stroke. If you can’t match it or do better then the course automatically ends. Doubles Match is a fun mode where you team up with a friend or the computer and both your strokes are counted. Whichever team has less wins. It’s a nice way to handicap if you’re playing with a lesser skilled friend who wishes to enjoy the game rather than getting slaughtered by you!
Choose from 12 characters. Some are male, some are female and there are even two felines. Don’t ask why. You can tell right off the bat that the developer, NCS, didn’t take things so seriously. Unfortunately, the characters seem to be purely cosmetic, as I haven’t been able to discern any differences between them. If this is indeed true, it seems like a bit of a waste as I would have like to seen some golfers with more power than others, some better at putting, etc.
Now that you’ve made your selection, it’s time to pick a themed world.
There are six in all. One is rather normal but the other five range from slightly abnormal to freaking bizarre! Each theme has a total of eight courses so in all you have 48 different courses to mess around on. It’s a pretty solid number although I wish we could have gotten at least two more themes. But I’m really just nit-picking here. The courses we got are pretty fantastic in their own right!
Players have the option to play either courses 1-4, 5-8, or all 8. Each theme has its own unique personality in addition to difficulty. Some courses are absolutely brutal. You can play alone or against one, two or three opponents — even adjust the handicap. Like Bomberman, I love how extremely customizable it is
I’VE GOT THE POWER!
The beauty of BS Golf is how simple it plays, yet still offers enough intricacies to be deeper than it may initially appear. Before hitting the ball you select your power, ranging from 1 to 100. Next, you pick where on the ball you wish to hit; there are a total of 17 (!) points. Where you decide to strike it will determine the trajectory of the ball — good stuff! More on this later.
There’s nothing as satisfying as nailing a long putt shot selecting just the right power amount. On the flip side, nothing as agonizing as choosing a couple power points too high, causing the ball to jump off the lip of the hole. Or miscalculate by a couple power points too low, leading the ball to stop mere centimeters in front of the cup — D’OH!! Makes for good trash talking both ways! The “guessing” game never gets old. Hmmm, is this shot a 47 or 52? 81 or 83? 98 or 99? This game-within-a-game is oddly compelling! Especially when you factor in that many times one point off can make the difference between glorious victory and agonizing defeat.
When playing against others, BS Golf takes on a new form of life. Much of the fun lies in making life miserable for the other(s). Here you are on offense, but at the same time, you can play a little defense too…
My opponent is trapped! Oh the sheer beauty of this. He probably could use one of the slick trajectory shots, but I’ve definitely made his life much more difficult. Who knew mini golf could be so evil?
A lot of the fun derives from messing up your opponent’s shot. It’s this element that makes BS Out of Bounds Golf truly special and unique. It’s Schadenfreude at its 16-bit finest!
Birdie shot leaves poor Timmy in the dust. I had to guess the right POW amount while factoring in the uphill slope here. Set the POW to just the right number, choose the proper trajectory and BOOM, thanks fer coming, kid! Incredibly fun stuff, and super satisfying to boot.
Introduced in the vaunted pages of EGM as OB Club — here’s why! The most fun is making your opponent OB (go out of bounds). Even when it’s not their turn! It’s a great way to ruin a friendship
D’OH! I’ve been cupblocked. Still, I try to brute force my way home (with less than stellar results). I’m lucky those little plate barriers stopped me from OBing, and even luckier I didn’t push my opponent’s ball in the hole. Instead the blue ball ricochets off the barrier and bounces back into mine, sending my red ball off the plate. Hey, it could have been worse.
Player 2 knocks in my ball — thanks buddy! Look at his priceless reaction on the mug shot there. I would have scored a PAR on my third try, but got a Birdie instead!
Opponent tries to apply brute force as well, with even less desirable results! His reaction says it all ^_^
Nothing beats OBing your opponent, especially when it’s done in the context of getting closer to the cup yourself. But wait, now that I think of it, there IS one thing that is king…
Ah, it’s a wee bit cloudy today but still a good day for some mini golf. I could score here well enough, even on the edge of the bunker, but wait a second…
… Suddenly the clouds block out the sun. As it grows dark outside, much the same is happening on the inside…
Better than all the rest though is when you score while knocking your rival’s ball out of bounds. Nothing compares to the trash talking that ensues, as well as the rush of adrenaline you feel off a perfectly placed ricochet shot. The stars need to align for this type of dual action shot to work — it happens once in a blue moon which only adds to its greatness when you do manage to pull it off.
Two for one specials are always memorable. I not only get the PAR but also add a stroke to my rival’s score. It’s the best of both worlds.
However, as good as the 2-Player mode is, for optimum pleasure try the fatal four way. Clusterville is not uncommon — one must get fairly shrewd and crafty if they want to make it out on top! It’s deliciously devious and entertaining.
I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing this game with three other friends and let me tell ya — it’s friggin’ awesome. I dare call it the best four player game on the SNES. Just don’t come into it expecting all-out action. Since players take turns, it’s more of a methodical multiplayer experience, which works quite well. It allows each player to have the spotlight, so to speak, and allows you to focus all your energy on trash talking when it’s not your turn. The battles get rather fierce!
IT’S ALL ABOUT TRAJECTORY
Being that there are 17 points on the ball to strike, you can nail a shot in more ways than one. Here’s an example of four different scoring ways from one same spot. On the surface BS Golf may look very simple but you’ll soon discover there’s a lot more hidden underneath. It’s crazy versatile!
Select the right POW and you’re good. A simple straight shot. Nothing fancy. Just effective. The dead center shot is probably what you’ll feel most comfortable using most of the time.
However, for those times where you feel bold and daring, you can curve the trajectory of your shot left or right. Most players probably wouldn’t bother if straight on is an option, but sometimes it’s fun to just mess around…
Curve it to the right for the goal. Definitely a show off type skill shot.
[YOU MUST NOT KNOW ‘BOUT ME -Ed.]. Not one to discriminate against lefties, let’s go left shall we?
Lovely! So we have dead center, right and left — three different ways to score from the same spot. I did say I’d show you four. What’s the fourth one, you ask? Ask and you shall receive.
“WHAT THE — !!” Notice my trajectory. This shot can only be made when it’s one notch above dead center. See how precise and deceptively intricate BS Golf is? It’s the kind of game that you’ll never quite play the same game twice. Good stuff.
SKILLZ! You are legit if you can pull off these funky trick shots. So, same position on the golf course and you just saw four different ways to score. Such is the versatility of this game. Odds are you’ll never play the same game twice. Add in the wacky competitiveness of three rivals and you have a multiplayer blast for the ages, and for all ages from 8 to 80!
Trajectory shots aren’t just for show, either. Sometimes, as seen here, they’re absolutely critical. You can’t always use the dead center shot if you want to excel — you must also master all other type of shots and know when to use which one.
The game randomly changes weather. One second it may be sunny. The next second clouds may appear overhead followed by a light rain. Once in a while there’s even a lightning show. Not only does it enhance the atmosphere of the game but it changes how you play as well — be sure to note and factor in the wind as well as the direction it’s blowing in. Mother Nature plays a role here just like in real life, and that’s pretty damn cool. There is an option to turn the weather off, though.
WAR OF THE WORLDS
Let’s check out the five other themes you can play in. The second world is a combination of breakfast items and books. You’ve been shrunk! Look, just go with it. There are many more obstacles here compared to the first world, such as tomatoes, rulers and even towering cereal boxes. Arrows move your fragile ball in specific directions. Things can get pretty tough in a hurry…
The third world has an Aztec or Mayan theme. The obstacles found here are moving rather than stationary. Thus recreating rather well those infamous mini golf courses with the bloody relentless windmills.
The fourth world has sort of a toy theme. Those buggers there remind me of the old KB Toys logo. Like in the second world, you’ll find plenty of arrows and jumpers here.
The fifth world is a beach theme. It’s a nice pleasant visual change from the third and fourth worlds. This beach theme is home to some funky courses that are tougher than a two dollar steak.
Remember playing Marble Madness back in the day on the good ol’ 8-bit NES? It was one of the games my brother and I owned back in the late ’80s. The sweet visuals and tunes of that game are still ingrained in my heart 25+ years later.
The sixth and final theme, taking place in outer space, is not only visually striking but brutally difficult. This will surely separate the boys from the men. It’s unforgiving like a hurricane, and will humble even the best players. Good luck!
Sucks to be you, pal! You can’t help but laugh when the opposition gets caught in a bad predicament such as this.
HOT SHOTS GOLF
When I say hot shots golf, I’m not talking about the PlayStation game Hot Shots Golf, which I like a lot. Oddly, there is a Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds but I digress. The Eagle is the second best possible shot in the game of golf. It’s pretty rare though. But the best shot in all of golf is, of course, the hole-in-one.
Of the 48 courses I’ve only been able to get a hole-in-one on three of the courses. You can’t get a hole-in-one for most of them. It’s always a thrill when it happens!
- Throughout the courses you’ll find giant gift wrapped boxes. If you make contact with these presents you will earn a random surprise. They range from useless to absolutely devastating. So far I’ve been able to discern 11 of them, but there could be even more. The 11 I know are listed below.
- Ball Switcher: This icon seems to be the hardest to get, like the lightning item in Super Mario Kart. It randomly switches all four balls. Can turn what looks like futility to one of sweet victory in a hot second. It’s sure to piss someone off!
- Poison Stroke: Makes opponents’ very next shot go very short.
- Sun: Automatic sunny weather (meh).
- Wind Blower #1: Gust of wind sends your rivals’ balls flying. Could potentially lead to O.B. *evil laughter*
- Wind Blower #2: Increases the wind MPH speed (meh).
- Mole: Takes rival’s next shot back to original position (pure evil!)
- Fast Shot: Sends your ball at the speed of light.
- Control Shot: Love this one! Control the ball by working the D-Pad.
- Shot Stop: You stop your shot short at any desired time by pressing B.
- Ink: ? I’ve yet to figure this one out…
- Anvil: ? Ditto the ink.
- Another sign that points to the greatness of this game are the randomly generated points of the cup. Here you see the same course, but with TWO different destinations. This way players can’t master one course and repeat the same tricks over and over, thus killing the longevity of the game. 48 courses each having several different random cup generators mean that you really have over 200 different possibilities! Plus you factor in the ever changing wind, the 17 different strike points, the shot power meter ranging from 1 to 100, and the item power ups — it all adds up to a game that has a slightly new wrinkle each time you play.
You’re looking at the same course, but with two different randomly generated cups. Each course has four different destinations.
- Certain courses have shortcuts and gimmicks you can take advantage of. For example, in one course you can hit your ball into the doghouse. This sends the ball flying across the screen from another location that can set you up nicely next to the hole.
Little details like this make a game extra memorable and awesome.
Here’s another cool example. If you hit the ball in that hole there, a mole magically transports your ball close to the exit. It’s weird but charming!
There’s a lot more but I’ll let you discover some of them for yourself…
There are some video games you see in magazine previews and dream about, but when you finally get around to play it you find yourself sorely disappointed. BS Out of Bounds Golf not only lived up to my expectations but in many ways it even surpassed them. It’s so simple that anyone can play it and have a good time, yet it’s deceptively intricate enough where you could play it a thousand times and still learn something new each time. It speaks to the game’s longevity, including the 17 different strike points, 48 courses, randomly generated cups, 12 player choices and 1-4 player mode. It’s mini golf done right! Where else can you stand next to a towering cereal box featuring Coco Krispies, I mean, Big Kongs Crunch, and the next minute be teeing off along the Milky Way? There’s only one.
The graphics are easily the weakest part of the game, but they’re serviceable nonetheless. The sound suits the game just right. Much like Bomberman, it’s the pure gameplay that delivers. You’ll never play the same game twice. OBing your opponent is where it’s at, and your individual battles with judging the trajectory and your power meter is gratifying in its own right. This is one of those rare games I can play for 10 minutes each night before going to bed and never get tired of. The game’s ingenuity is abundant, its accessibility brilliant, and its charm endless. If you’ve never played BS Out of Bounds Golf before, I dare you to spend some time with it and see if you don’t like it yourself. Of course, everyone’s mileage will vary, and you might not be as nuts about it as I am, but I doubt many will walk away thinking it’s a bad game. I hope that BS Out of Bounds Golf will no longer be obscure and left hidden in the shadows. May it instead shine brightly as one of the best multiplayer games on the SNES. You need to experience playing this game with three friends to fully grasp its sheer brilliance. You’re sure to be glad you did!
Sadly unknown and unreleased, BS Out of Bounds Golf is slightly bizarre and twisted, highly competitive and addicting, and one of the best multiplayer SNES games around. Give it a shot, it just might become your next favorite retro party game! Schadenfreude at its finest.
I don’t hand out too many 10 scores… then again, not too many games are as fun and charming as this one is. Scenes like this only point to the sheer brilliance of the game ^_^