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Golf

This 1989 Arnold Palmer Video Game Was Shockingly Horny

Arnold Palmer celebrates two video game characters getting it on

This week EA Sports announced that the next installment of its FIFA video games series, which began in 1993 on Sega Genesis, will be its last. EA will continue to make a soccer game every year, but it will have a new name: EA Sports FC. EA said it still has 300 licensing partners for that soccer game, but was balking at paying FIFA for naming rights. Soccer’s governing body wanted a reported $150 million.

Players shouldn’t really see much of a difference besides the lack of a World Cup mode; EA says the game will still feature major leagues, stadiums, and around 19,000 players. A good sports simulation game usually needs a license to be truly successful, although it’s not clear that it needs the acronym FIFA. It’s fun to play a representation of soccer on your computer, and it’s even more fun if you can pretend to be Kevin De Bruyne.

Developers know this now, but games used to skimp on it as a matter of course. The original FIFA International Soccer featured only the FIFA license; the players were fake. Lots of games around the time opted for one big-name license rather than a whole league of players. Sometimes this worked out: A 1991 San Francisco Examiner story said 1991’s Joe Montana Football, which featured exactly one real player (Joe Montana), was Sega’s best-selling game in the U.S. that year. (Presumably this excludes the original Sonic the Hedgehog cartridge with the NOT FOR RESALE label; that was bundled with Genesis consoles.)

That Examiner story rolls out a list of video games with player licenses that came out around that time: Mario Lemieux Hockey, Tommy Lasorda Baseball, Roger Clemens MVP Baseball, John Madden Football, Buster Douglas Boxing, Bo Jackson Baseball, Jordan vs. Bird: One on One, Jack Nicklaus Golf, Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf. Even the original Madden game for Apple didn’t have NFL or NFLPA licenses. Sega, in particular, loved the celebrity license; it was part of then-SEGA of America’s president Michael Katz’s plan to compete with Nintendo.

Some endorsees had their fingerprints on the games. John Madden refused to endorse a football game that wasn’t 11-on-11. Jerry Glanville recorded voice samples for Jerry Glanville’s Pigskin Footbrawl. Others did not. Three early Sega Genesis titles—Tommy Lasorda Baseball, Pat Riley Basketball, and Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf—feature basically nothing besides a title screen image of the licensee.

All three were localizations of Japanese games. Super Real Basketball and Super League were the Japanese names for Riley’s and Lasorda’s eponymous games; the games were just re-skinned with a new title for the U.S. market. But, according to Sega Retro, the Japanese version of Arnold Palmer’s golf game (Naomichi Ozaki Super Masters) is similarly weird:

Despite its Western name, the late Arnold Palmer does not appear in the game, save for a cameo on the title screen. While the Western box art suggests the player is competing in the “Arnold Palmer Tournament” there is no reference to this in-game nor in the manual. The Japanese version devotes a section of its manual to Ozaki Naomichi but likewise, the golfer is largely absent from the game.

So Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf did not really feature any Arnold Palmer. But it did feature an incredibly strange cutscene. Here’s how I discovered it: I stream video games, usually retro ones, weekly on Defector’s Twitch channel. (Tune in! Tuesdays at 5!) I am not very good, but I always try to have a good time. That is sometimes hard when the game presents me with a horrifying scene like this.

In 2005, the Windows version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was released. Two days later, modder Patrick Wildenborg released a patch that allowed players to access a mini-game players dubbed “Hot Coffee” where your character got to have sex with his girlfriend. It was crude and silly and, I guess, a little funny. Funnier still: Polticians freaked out over it—the United States House of Representatives voted to have the FTC investigate the developer and publisher; the City of Los Angeles sued. What I am going to posit here is that, 16 years earlier, Sega released a game with a cut-scene that was even more disturbing. Where were our politicians then?!

Look, I know there are other things one could focus on in the video above. I’m +28 for the round, for one thing. My hair doesn’t even look good, for another. But please pay attention to what is at hand here: In the middle of a round of golf, there is a “COFFEE BREAK” where a character makes a short chip shot and is kissed by a Sexy Golf Babe. Golf, like the sport as it is played, does not include this kind of coffee break. Very few golf events, even ones with John Daly, include Playboy bunny-type characters at all. What the hell is going on here.

Reviewer Truck_1_0_1_ says on Gamefaqs that the character hitting here is Alex Kidd, a character who was Sega’s mascot before Sonic and starred in an early Genesis title, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle. I skimmed through a let’s-play of the game on YouTube. There are a few horny scenes.

Not all of these are super horny. But some are. In one such scene Opa-Opa, the main character spaceship from Sega’s Fantasy Zone series of games, even leers at Alex and his smooch-buddy as they kiss. I will acknowledge that there is no real point to this post beyond wanting to share my experience. I had to imagine a fantasy scenario in which Arnold Palmer insisted his golf game include a kissing scene between a little boy with giant ears and Playboy bunny, and now you have to as well. You’re welcome!