Out of the two golf games available for the Neo Geo (Top Players Golf being the other one), this is by far the better one. The very old Top Players Golf is still fun, but this is way, way better. Neo Turf Masters is still an arcade golf game, but is a bit more realistic than TP Golf and is much more polished.
In this game, you view your golfer from behind, instead of overhead (as in TP Golf) and you get a small map in the top right corner that gives you a better idea of where you are aiming, which makes it nice and easy to get your shots to go where you want them to. There are plenty of other useful details on screen too, including the direction the wind is blowing in, the club you are using, the distance to the hole and also how far your selected club can hit the ball. This makes it simple to judge how much power your shots need. As with all golf games, the game play is mainly a simple test of your reactions, all you need to do is stop the power gauge at the correct time. There are four different courses to play and 6 different players with different skills to choose from, which means that the game should have some good replay value.
Graphics & Sound:
This game was made in 1996, compared to Top Players Golf, which was made way back in 1990. The biggest hint of this age difference is in the graphics, which are a lot better. From the intro screen, to the good quality animation on the player it is quite nice and there are lots of other nice touches too, including a close up camera view of the hole when you are putting and close up views that show where your ball has landed (on the green, in the rough etc.). It also has a nice little intro movie too. Sports games aren't exactly the Neo Geo's speciality, but Neo Turf Masters is graphically as good as the genre gets on this system.
The sound is very well done too. I did find the music to be a little cheesy; there's lots of saxophones and stuff, but it does suit the game and I kinda liked it. It annoyed me that there is only one tune for each different course, which means that by the time you have reached about the 14th hole you will want to turn it off. As for the sound effects, they are really good, there's some nice spot effects and a lot of speech from a female announcer who tells you where your ball has landed or what score you got at the end of each hole (i.e. bogey, birdie, on par etc.). There are some really cheesy parts that made me laugh, such as when your golfer shouts “I DID IT!!!” or “OH NO!!!” depending on your score. On the whole it is very well done though.
Not everybody likes golf games, but if you do you like them you will find that this is easily the best golf game on the Neo Geo. Later courses can be very challenging and you will need to use your head as well as your reflexes to do well on them! It's not a simulation game and if you are looking for something that is very realistic you shouldn't be playing golf on the Neo Geo! For an arcade style golf game, you can't do much better though. It certainly plays much better than the old and dated Top Players Golf, that's for sure. Definitely worth a look and is a good break from all those fighting/puzzle games! ;)
Game play: 8/10
Replay Value: 7/10
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