For as long as gaming has existed, there have been segments of the consumer base that have found it hard to return to older titles, usually for graphical reasons, but often there are much more valid gameplay concerns, the idea that certain genres simply evolve so much that it’s impossible to put the genie back in the bottle. I’ve rarely ever had that problem. Good game design is timeless. The original Castlevanias don’t lose anything by not having the ability to backflip or whip diagonally, for instance, and I obviously don’t have any issues with big ugly pixels. The only instance this particular problem seems to show up is when a game is so blatantly a product of a more embarrassing time, less a reflection of outdated design sensibilities than the world it was created in.
As it turns out, I own every sports title in the “Outlaw” series. Seeing as I’m completely illiterate in the field of competitive physical activity, this doesn’t really surprise me. My sports game purchases tend to be of the more-casual sort, usually hoping for a visage of Mario and his friends on the cover to lull me into a sense of security that can only come with button mashing your way to easy victory. Outlaw Golf certainly fills that niche, along with several others that I’m not sure ever existed. It’s a game for the MTV generation a good five years after MTV stopped being relevant, a hold-out from a period when “this isn’t your daddy’s [blank]” was still seen as an effective marketing strategy. Thankfully, over time, we’ve realized that our collective fathers actually had pretty good taste. It is, quite simply, the most 2004 game ever released.
It is still golf, though, and I have an odd fascination with that genre in the virtual space. Even bad golf games are kinda fun and Outlaw Golf is totally serviceable. The swing mechanic mostly works as intended and your golfer having to keep track of their composure is an idea that has some legs, but it, like most of the game, is really just an excuse to show off the amazing writing and motion capture work on display. Long after you’ve tired of getting stomped on that tricky par 5, OG2 will be more than happy to repeat the same joke you just saw a few minutes ago. If material from the parody-movie tier isn’t quite your speed, sometimes your underdressed golfer will bend over suggestively. So that’s… something, right?
All of my enjoyment with Outlaw Golf appears to be in spite of its best efforts, constantly giving me another useless cutaway of my golfer abusing their caddy or making a dated pop culture reference when all I really want to do is sink a putt. Given the fact that I’m playing the second game in the series, the natural conclusion one must reach is that the first game sold well enough, that a crossover actually existed between these two pillars of thought. In this world existed a substantial amount of people that went “man, I really like golf games, but you know what they’re missing? Polygonal upskirts.”
If you or anyone you know is one of these people, I have a study I’d like you to take part in. It pays well but may involve the use of a scalpel.