|SAB stands for
Steve A. Baker
When you think of the Atari 5200 games what's the first thing
that comes to mind? Great arcade ports, the RealSports
series, miniature golf... Miniature Golf?!?! Yes
that's right, Atari was planning on bringing one of the worlds
most underrated sports to the 5200. But was the public
Miniature Golf actually started out life as an
Apple IIe game when Steve decided to port it to the 5200.
Since the original Apple IIe version was done in the Apple's
high-res mode, Steve was forced to use a similar mode on the 5200.
The result is a game with very detailed graphics, but
strange colors. This is due to the limited color palette in
the 5200's high-res mode, and the use of a technique called
"Artifacting". Artifacting allows the programmer to produce
extra colors by only using half of the color clock, but these
colors are often not very pleasing to the eye (such as bright
purples and dull greens).
Strange color scheme aside, Miniature Golf
actually provides an enjoyable 18 holes of miniature golf.
Control is handled entirely by the keypad (a side effect
of starting out as an Apple IIe game), so the non-centering
5200 joystick doesn't hinder the gameplay. Pushing the #
and * keys changes the direction the ball will be hit
(represented by an arrow) and the 1-9 keys are used to
indicate the power of the swing (1=lowest and 9=highest).
Not only are these controls simple to learn, but they're
very intuitive too. However mastering the power settings
can take some time.
As if the colors weren't strange enough, the
graphics can be just as perplexing. Obstacles are often
represented by lines or odd shapes, and it can take some
imagination to figure out how the ball will react to them.
Some obstacles will allow the ball to move through but
will radically alter its direction, while other obstacles will
reflect the ball in odd directions. Besides the physical
obstacles there are several "elemental" traps to watch out for
such as fire pits and water hazards. Putting into one of
these traps will quickly add to your stroke total.
If Miniature Golf has a weak point (besides the
colors), it would have to be the sound. The sounds mostly
consist of odd bouncing sounds and an equally strange "hit"
sound which has to be heard to be believed (another side effect
of starting out as an Apple IIe game). However since mini
golf isn't exactly known for its rich and exciting sound
effects, these sounds work just fine. However the addition
of a simple background tune would have improved the game
The gameplay is where Miniature Golf really
shines. The ball physics react very well to the player's
input (watch what happens when you use a power of nine!).
Each hole seems to have its own slightly different gravity
and "bounce" settings, so it can take some practice to learn the
best attack strategy. However mastering Miniature Golf
isn't easy, and shooting par is considered to be a true
With realistic ball physics and varied hole
design, Miniature Golf remains fun to play long after the
initial excitement wears off (as exciting as miniature golf gets
anyway). Miniature Golf provides a pleasant departure from
the 5200's normal arcade line up. Unfortunately Atari felt
that Miniature Golf didn't have enough colors to meet its
standards. Since the color scheme was a direct result of
the graphics mode that was used, there was nothing Steve could
do. As a result Miniature Golf was permanently shelved
along with Steve's excellent Backgammon simulator Microgammon
SB. With more original titles like this, the 5200 might
have had the wide appeal Atari was hoping for.
||5200 Miniature Golf
to 5200 Software