Wednesday 23 March 2016

Neo Turf Masters (Neo Geo CD review)

Developer: Nazca Corporation
Publisher: SNK
Released: 1996

Neo Turf Masters is a sports game that was released in Japan as Big Tournament Golf.

There's four courses to choose from (Japan, Germany, U.S.A. and Australia) and the modes on offer are Arcade Game (with Match Play and Stroke Play) and Another Game (with Handicap and Grand Slam). Driving the ball is simple and involves timing your button presses to control a swinging metre for both power and spin; you can also change your stance for draw or fade shots. The controls are simple but very easy to get into and within seconds you'll have all the mechanics down. It's a joy to drive the ball around the stunningly beautiful courses which include waterfalls between islands, and even hills that act as obstacles. However, the arrow on the right-hand-side map doesn't update to show you the potential length of your shot when you change clubs; it's a real hindrance as you end up having to guess how far your shot will go. Putting uses a simple left-to-right sliding metre and although it works well it can be hard to read at times; this is mainly because the close-up view always shows a flat surface (even if there's a break towards the hole) and you have to rely on the inaccurate overhead map instead. The crowd can be wildly enthusiastic at times which builds a fantastic atmosphere that really pulls you into the action. They even start to "ooh" in anticipation of a putt that's slowly creeping its way towards the hole! The swing animation of your golfer is exceptional and you can even see the flagpole swaying in the distance from far away! The mix of energetic and soft, breezy music fits perfectly and one track even reminds me of Starlight Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog! (1991, Mega Drive).
Neo Turf Masters is a polished golf game with tons of options that you can really sink your teeth into. It's extremely well developed and despite a few niggles there's plenty to like whether you're a casual fan of the sport, or someone with a deeper appreciation for the game's subtleties.
Random trivia: The game was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2008.

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