Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Leaderboard Birdie

A good walk spoiled?

Well, maybe! But here is Leaderboard Golf which was released in 1986 by Access Software and is undoubtedly one of the least technically impressive games to grace the Atari ST. Let's not be too hasty as this was released all the way back when the ST was just a baby one year old. And the 8-bit computers reign was at its peak.

When loaded, the main menu is rather crude, but functional, and is used to commence a new game. Each hole is rendered in front of your eyes to be played via a third-person perspective - we can see ourselves ready to take each shot. You shall note the golfing jargon on the right and basic information like weather, clubs and distance and a shot meter.

The picture I'm painting isn't exactly wonderful, right? I know, I know, but let's view a screenshot...

Select each club carefully and watch out for those high winds!

Slow down and think about it...

With each and every shot, is a unique distance to the hole so a different club is always required. Long distances will require a 'wood' and (from what I can gather) they're rated W1-W9 and a 1W will achieve the greatest distances whereas the 9W might produce a more acute shot albeit with less power. The 'irons' feel similar to this golfing noob here at AtariCrypt but you might choose a 9I for a more acute shot when in a troubled rough spot.

Finally, the 'PW' is the pitching wedge and is used for those final moments when accuracy is needed to get that little white ball into the hole. Yes, what a golfing connoisseur I am. You shall also note a little pole in the ground that is casting a shadow of varying angles and lengths? Use that to help determine the current conditions.

Sadly, Leaderboard has no save game feature built-in but there are scorecards inside the box and mine (see the picture below) has pages filled in by the previous owner. I love finding stuff like this which I think is excellent as a tiny piece of ST history is preserved. So, here is an interesting tidbit for y'all...

I wonder who David is and how much he enjoyed the game?

It's all about whacking a ball really hard?

Leaderboard is actually quite simple to play but also quite challenging. It's all about choosing (and using) the best club for the shot at hand, of course. Correctly hitting each ball is a balance of lining it up and mastering the power and snap meter. That determines how far you wish your ball to travel and whether it should go straight or curved to the left or right.

Weather will affect the direction and conditions your golfer must face. Plus he also has many of the usual pitfalls to contend with, like the rough, trees, puddles of water and those nasty bunkers. It might be an idea for novice golfers to disable those weather conditions whilst you learn the game's controls and basic mechanics.

Okay, golfing dudes let's take another gander at another amazingly realistic screenshot...

Get that power and snap meter just right for the current shot and weather conditions

Next-Gen visuals!

Visually, I'm sure many will find Leaderboard far too unrealistic and extremely minimalistic, especially when compared to certain other ST games. However, Leaderboard has a nostalgia that I love; the way it draws each scene so methodically is superb - and brings back happy memories during a time when it would have impressed everyone.

Sound effects are on par (see what I did there?) with the visuals. In fact, they're more than enough for this quiet stroll through the countryside using a spot-fx for hitting the ball or selecting the clubs. Hearing the ball drop into the hole is crazy but my favourite is that mushy effect when it falls into the water. So lame, but it's genuinely brilliant!

I tried hard to get a nice screenshot - so appreciate it and take the time to view it properly...

Oh dear, there are lots of pitfalls to avoid on this hole. Can you do it?

The CryptO'pinion?

This was great fun yet I think most golfing connoisseurs might foolishly turn up their noses at such an old game in favour of something better? I would say stop and think about that because this is one of the most charming and entertaining moments you can experience with an old computer. It's so easy to pick up and play and incredibly addictive.

I hate most sports games - I don't even like golf - yet I adore Leaderboard and so will you. This is one of the best games - from the earlier years - that you can play for the Atari ST. Truly this looks poor but is superb!! A fantastic game.

Take a swing and download for either floppy or hard disk (come on, hdd if you can!!)


  1. You can always print a scorecard from here ;) http://www.atarimania.com/st/boxes/hi_res/leaderboard_birdie_d7_6.jpg

    1. No mate, not the same as having the original thing in your hands. Besides, I never use the AM website. Really sucky!!! ;p