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NES Obscurity Quicky!

As I mentioned the other week, lately I'm finding the SNES to be a SNoozE, and I'm on a NES and Gameboy kick.
But this brings up an interesting point: back in my early SNES-collecting era, one of my kooky goals was to buy all the Fishing and Golf games out there. For whatever reason*, there's over a half-dozen SNES games of each.
*: my theory being, with 16-bit consoles it was now somewhat possible to port modern computer golf games to home consoles.
The NES has a much sparser catalog of these "boring" alternative sports games, to the point where I don't feel particularly compelled to try to catch-em-all, despite the potential comic value. Also, after having cut my teeth on 16-bit golf and fishing games, their NES equivalents** seem a little too dumbed-down for me.
**: That's of course barring the original NES Golf, which, like Pro Wrestling, did it first and did it best.
Proto-Mario, you are the only golfer I need!
Get on with it!
Anyway, during a dry spell of finding fun games, I picked up a copy of...
Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf
And much to my surprise, it contained a feature that I've not seen on any of my handful of SNES golf games:
Character select, where each character has differing abilities!
Ok, so ONE game lets you choose your golfer (AND HOW), but the differences were just cosmetic.
But I'm not here to talk about the ins and outs of video game golf, because
  1. I don't know much about it,
  2. I get bored just thinking of beginning to do the comparative research.
Instead, I'm going to talk about something that fits in with my gaming niche: random babble synthesizing a shallow understanding of a cross-section of games into some vague commonalities!
We all know how the 3-character-select system tends to break down (which would go on to become a standard in 16-bit beat-em-ups): you have a tradeoff of Strength and Speed, with two characters min-maxed each way, and one character in the middle.
But while different-character-select options were rare in the NES, it's odd that I could think of several instances of FOUR-character select choices, all of which followed the same paradigm, which I will call...
The Four-Character Split: Two Min-Maxes, the Average Joe, plus the Weirdo
You have a similar main trio as described above -- varying in focus on Brute Force vs. Finesse...but then you have a fourth character that's (ideally) a little worse than the Average character, but who also has a unique/weird extra power.
So, join me now as I expound on the Four-Character split, using Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf as a jumping-off point, and fleshing out my theory with two more well-known games:
Pretty Amy
"The only female player. Her swing speed is slow, her ball control is fantastic, and her aiming is accurate. But her stroke is less powerful than the others."
As per the manual, she's got "accuracy/control" but lacks hitting power. So, she's the MIN FORCE, MAX FINESSE character.
Game Equivalents: Toad, Wizard
For Super Mario Bros 2, I suggest that Force = Jumping, Finesse = Lifting/Carrying. That makes Pretty Amy the Toad equivalent: easy for new players to pick up and play, but lacking in long term growth.
Similarly, in Gauntlet II, I'd say Force = Shot Strength and Finesse =, the Wizard is min-maxed the same way as Pretty Amy.
Big Jumbo
"His stroke is very powerful, and his flight distance is the longest. But he doesn't want to adjust his power. The player needs good technique to control him."
The opposite Min-Max of Pretty Amy, Big Jumbo has the most FORCE and the least FINESSE.
Game Equivalents: Luigi, Warrior
Luigi's crazy-legs jumping but poor lifting/carrying make him the Big Jumbo equivalent - and like the golf game, that probably means he's hard to master, but once you've figured him out, you can probably make better time with Luigi than with any other character.
Warrior's super-powerful axes mow down everything that's shoot-able, but his poor magic power means the magic-only Death monster can end up picking on him. But unlike the other games, Warrior is probably one of the easiest pick-up-and-play characters around, and given that Gauntlet II is multiplayer, you can pick a sidekick to make up for his magical weakness.
Super Mex
"An all-around player. His ability is between Amy and Jumbo as to flight distance, accuracy and swing speed."
Though it's kind of hidden in-game, it turns out "Super Mex" is Lee Trevino's nickname, and instead of pulling a Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! and cameoing as the last boss, Mr. Trevino appears as the balanced character choice.
Game Equivalents: Mario, Valkyrie
You don't get more bland than SMB2's Mario. Anecdotally I remember him being the least-popular character, because all the other choices can do something interesting.
Gauntlet II has more factors than the other games, but Valkyrie is basically the most balanced: good shot, good magic, plus a slightly-boosted Defense (as indicated by her giant shield).
Miracle Chosuke
"He has less power than Super Mex. But he is good at putting, and his accuracy is unequalled. He can hit a 'Reverse Miracle Putt.'"
Now here's where things get interesting (and not just because of his weird nickname): the manual talks about Mr. Chosuke's middle-of-the-road powers, but also mention the "Reverse Miracle Putt"...I'd guess that would be one of those "overshoot then it rolls back in" putts (see: Gilmore, Happy)
Game Equivalents: Princess, Elf
The Princess may hop pretty well and pick-and-throw pretty weak, but her floating power makes her unique. I can't think of another NES game that contains this ability (even Super Mario Bros 3's racoon tail slow-fall and run-and-fly are more of a special occasion/situational ability), and with or without practice, the Princess's floating lets you have some fun with the standard platforming formula.
As I mentioned, Gauntlet II's characters are juggling a handful of separate statistics, but the Elf has the most notable "off-brand" stat boost: he moves significantly faster than all the other players and monsters. As far as his standard stats, he's also similar to Miracle Chosuke -- he's got a lot of Magic Power (finesse) and not a lot of Shot Strength (force).
Well, that about wraps it up...
What do you think of my "Four-Character Split" theory; are there other examples or counter-examples? Leave a comment below...
Or alternately, just enjoy Miracle Chosuke's "I just hit the ball into the water" dance.
— carlmarksguy, 2015-08-10
NES collectors in the US lucked out on the golf game front. The Famicom is absolutely bogged with golf games, most of which are nigh-indistinguishable from each other. I do recall one based on some manga where all the courses are in crazy locations like across rooftops and through forests and stuff like that.
Yeah, that sounds about right. But I wish we got some of those stand-out wacky ones (is it really that different to hit across rooftops vs across islands?). Then again, I REALLY wish we got some horse-racing games, which Fanticom (Super Fanticom?) is loaded with.
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