Before Neo Turf Masters a.k.a. Big Tournament Golf there was already another Golf game that hit the large game library of the Neo Geo. In fact Top Player's Golf was a launch title alongside with Nam 1975 or Magician Lord and characterized the very early era of the MVS.
It should be mentioned as well that Top Player's Golf wasn't SNK's first Golf game. In 1988 SNK already developed a Golf game called Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf for the Arcade. That one was ported to the NES as well.
And if you are interested in participating at a High Score Challenge, just let me or Priest know.
Top Player's Golf
Genre: Sports Players: 2 Size: 62 MEGS Released on: MVS, AES, NGCD
Only the best need apply to hit the course in Top Players Golf. Take your pick from four golfers and play a round on one of two virtual courses that look so good you'll want to buy a membership. The game play is equally realistic caddies offer advice on each hole, and your shot hinges on the power in your swing, the direction it goes, and the angle at which the ball is hit. Three styles of play are possible, including Nassau, stroke play, and match play.
I think Neo Turf Masters is the main reason why Top Player's Golf always has been an somekind of a Neo underdog, despite the game's quality for its time. It's just that Neo Turf Masters is so good that one simply doesn't bother its older brother anymore.
Added to this, TPG is one of the very first Neo Geo titles. All the experience and know-how to create addicting sports games wasn't around yet at SNK.
Like Murikov stated (and supported by most of the replies thus far) this game will always live in the shadow of Neo Turf Masters. That said, I really like Top Players Golf! I'm in a seemingly unique position critiquing this GOTW title since I've spent very little time with the oft-compared NTM. Although it's high on my list of future purchases, I don't yet own Nazca's golfing masterpiece and since I rarely play games via emulation, my familiarity with it is limited (though I can at least attest to NTF's greatness and see why it's widely regarded as the "gold standard" of it's genre on the Neo). Since TPG is the only Neo golf game I've played extensively, its easier to judge it on its own merits.
Let's get one gripe I have with TPG out of the way here and now- the intro cinema is absolutely TERRIBLE and an embarrassment to SNK's hardware. First off, the golfers in the snapshots appear to have just realized they sharted their pants in public. They look like they were drawn by an intoxicated, legally blind chimpanzee (who likely went on to design the sprites for Legend of Success Joe). Then we have the choppy scaling effects which are inexcusable on a machine capable of so much better (as effortlessly demonstrated during actual gameplay). All this might have been forgivable on a lesser console, but not the Neo Geo.
Intro aside, what we have here is a fun, arcade-style golf game with nice, colorful visuals, smooth scaling effects, lots of digitized speech, audio that fits the part and music that is minimal enough to avoid distraction or annoyance.
Even though much of the strategic text appears in Japanese on my AES, the gameplay is intuitive enough that I do just fine without it. The talkative caddie (likely an impressive amount of voice for the game's time) is neat but rarely helpful. The gameplay is streamlined and very basic in its presentation, but ultimately its minimalist, arcade-style interface is probably what prevents a video game about golf from boring the hell out of me. I don't love the sport enough to imagine playing a full-fledged golf sim and not hating it! I'll gladly take TPG over Tiger Woods PGA any day of the week.
Some have complained about the game not adjusting the yards-to-hole distance following each stroke. Its initially irritating but I quickly learned to use the bird's eye view of the hole and some very simple math to adequately estimate my distance to the putting green. Not so difficult, really
Neat little game and a pleasant diversion on the rare occasions I tire of pummeling, shooting and slashing foes in mainstay Neo titles. TPG is a great, affordable option for AES owners looking for a fun, arcade-style golf game priced hundreds of dollars less than a converted or original copy of Neo Turf Masters.
Truth be told, I expect TPG will become largely neglected when I do acquire a copy of NTM. Until then, it'll do just fine
Edited by Chiba3010 on 15. June 2012 07:58
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