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Developed and published by Nazca in 1996
For as long as I can remember, golf has always been a popular video game genre. I remember dabbling with the likes of Leaderboard on the C64 and Amiga, and I became quite partial to the occasional tour of Mauna Kea or Banff Springs in Links 386 Pro on my first PC back in the day. When getting bored of playing properly, there was always the added amusement of seeing what would happen when driving the ball hard into the side of the clubhouse or into the nearest car park to see what would happen. These were games that, intentionally or not, were surprisingly relaxing affairs, even if you weren't a massive fan of the real thing.
However, I would never have considered golfing a natural fit for an arcade coin-op, yet Nazca, creator of the Metal Slug series, thought otherwise. The dev team swapped rocket launchers and over-the-top explosions for a bag of clubs and silly trousers, heading off for a swift 18 holes in Neo Turf Masters, released in 1996 for the Neo Geo console.
Surprisingly, it works really well. I think the game makes more sense as an AES home release than MVS coin-op, but no matter the format, it's actually a really solid interpretation of the sport and is good fun, provided you already enjoy golf games to begin with. Four courses and a selection of different golfers means there's a decent amount of content of offer, plus the inclusion of club selection, hooking/slicing and basic physics in the form of wind speed and terrain gradient mean the game certainly less perfunctory than you might think; sure, they're simplified when compared to dedicated golf simulations like Links or PGA Tour, but these systems add just the right level of complexity to keep the game interesting, without getting too bogged down with the finer details.
And as with many Neo Geo titles, NTM is pretty easy on the eye, boasting the kind of great sprite work, vivid backgrounds and fluid animation synonymous with the system; overall presentation is very slick indeed. Perhaps the only negative aspect was the terribly repetitive music; there's only so much smooth jazz one can take before reaching for the volume control.
Music aside, Neo Turf Masters plays well, feels polished and, if you enjoy golf games, easy to recommend.
0:00:00 Attract Mode
0:01:30 Tournament 1: Baden National Golf Course (Germany)
0:23:07 Tournament 2: Fujiyama Oriental Golf Club (Japan)
0:37:00 Hole in One!
0:37:34 Tournament 2: Fujiyama Oriental Golf Club (Japan)
0:43:44 Tournament 3: Grand Canyon Golf Course (U.S.A)
1:04:28 Tournament 4: Blue Lagoon Golf Course (Australia)
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|2021-06-02||Neo Turf Masters Longplay (Neo Geo) [QHD]|