Neo Turf Masters

Neo Geo

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

The Neo Geo doesn't have the greatest variety of sports gaming, especially compared to other consoles of its day. It never had a hockey game, tennis game, or 5-on-5 basketball game. It did however have 2 golf games. The first was Top Players Golf, a decent game for it's day brought down by too many small problems. Then came Neo Turf Masters, a golf game that changed everything.

Turf Masters offers players 2 separate modes of play. Solo players can take on a tournament in stroke play after selecting one of 5 different golfers and a group of 2 people can go head to head in match play. Four separate 18 hole courses are available in various countries from Japan to the US. Each of the courses are entirely unique and provide some spectacular scenery.

Gameplay is simplistic and anyone can pick this one up in a matter of minutes. The meters that provide your power and spin start automatically. All you need to do is press the button when their at the point you want them to stop. Aiming is done on an overhead map on the right side of the screen and it provides all the details you need before taking your shot. Distance to the hole is provided before every shot on the top. It doesn't get much easier than that.

Amazingly, this game hardly looks dated. The amount of parallax on the courses almost makes the entire course look polygonal at times. The animation on the golfers is so superb, it makes them look better than some of the 32-bit games that feature digitized video for their sprites. The overhead view shown when the ball is hit is rather bland, but does its job admirably.

Thanks to the added megs available on a Geo cart (133 here to be exact), there are a ton of voice samples to be had. Each hole is introduced with an announcer stating the obvious (hole number, total yards, par), but his inclusion is a great touch. A very Japanese female announcer takes over after the hole and goes over the changes on the leader board. Individualized music accompanies each course, but resets itself after every hole. No matter how good the tunes are, it's grating by the time the 18th rolls around.

Dragging this game down a few points is the absolutely infuriating difficulty level. The out of bounds areas are way too easy to land in (and in some case far to close to each other), the tops of trees are always too high for the ball, and figuring out how far that pool of water is from your position only becomes easy after hours of practice. Thankfully, putting is simple and easy which can make up for an otherwise bad hole. Also, a few more modes of play would really extend the life of this game.

Neo Turf Masters stands out as one of the rarest Geo carts ever made. Even the MVS version commands quite the premium. Find one of these at a garage sale for $5 and you'll instantly become the king of the collecting community. It's quite a shame too, since next to Baseball Stars 2, this is the best Geo sports game ever produced. If you ever have the means to do so, this is a great game that certainly deserves to be on the shelf with the rest of your Neo collection.

Tip: Short putts can actually be much harder than long ones. Take your time and stop the meter when it's on the way back, not when it starts going forward. You'll screw up every time if you try to stop it going forward.


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Last updated: Saturday, May 01, 2004 10:27 AM