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Jack Nicklaus 6: Golden Bear Challenge

Jack Nicklaus 6: Golden Bear Challenge
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Platforms: PC
Publisher: Activision, Inc.
Developer: Hypnos Entertainment
Genres: Sport / Golf
Release Date: March 31, 1999
Game Modes: Singleplayer / Multiplayer

Links has been the major golf sim series for most of computer gaming history, but not long behind was Jack Nicklaus. With the sixth game of the series, Golden Bear Challenge, Jack Nicklaus not only closes the gap on Links LS 99, but even manages to take the lead.

The game comes with six courses to play out of the box: Shoal Creek, Sherwood Country Club, Montecastillo Golf Resort, Nicklaus North Course, Cochise at the Desert Mountain Club and Muirfield Village. Visually, the courses look quite good and the detail has definitely improved since JN5. From a gameplay standpoint, the courses offer a nice variety of challenges from the abundant water on Shoal Creek to the long, dry holes at Cochise.

3_1Jack Nicklaus 6 allows you to play the game as Jack Nicklaus, one of the other players provided or your own custom golfer. In addition to tweaking the appearance of your golfer, you can now adjust the skill level though a new points system. There are five areas to assign points to that strengthen your abilities. These areas include shot power, accuracy, putting, sand play and short play around the green. You can alter these stats and any other settings for your player before any match. The number of points you have to distribute depends on your handicap. The lower the handicap, the more points you have.

The ball physics in Jack Nicklaus 6 seemed pretty accurate and the flight of the ball was appropriately affected by my swing, the lie, wind and so forth. I found the distance I could hit the ball at each difficulty level was way too low for the clubs I was using. As a result, I ended up playing at the higher difficulty levels simply because I didn’t want to have to use low irons to reach a short par four every time. The option to play in heavier wind conditions was silly because it was pretty much impossible to control the ball at level three. For those of you who really want a challenge though, it’s in there.

5_1You can decide your own handicap or let the computer automatically calculate it for you after every match. The trade off is the swing meter moves slower at higher handicaps but the ball doesn’t go nearly as far, while on the lower handicap settings the meter moves quickly and the ball travels much farther when you hit it well. There is also a screen that lets you adjust your swing for the type of shot you normally hit. So, if you tend to slice the ball frequently, you can adjust for that so that your slice will put you more in the middle of the fairway than off to the right or left.

You have a wide variety of match types to choose from when playing against other computer or human opponents. The traditional stroke, match and skins options are obviously included. Other interesting additions include Bingo Bango Bongo, where players get points for first on the green, closest ball to the hole and first in the cup. At the end of the round, the player with the most points wins. You can also play Stableford, which awards aggressive players by giving lots of points for eagles and birdies and nothing for pars.


System Requirements: Pentium 166 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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