Reviewed in 2012 by Tibe

GOLF, NEO GEO WAY !

by Tibe

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Heavyweight of its generation, big with its 62 megabytes, Top Player's Golf was the biggest game of the system when it was released. And when you pump up a little the volume, you understand why: the voices and other sounds digitizations are legion! In fact, the "phenomenon" is still rare in the early nineties, as digitized sounds occupy a lot of memory on cartridges that often can't contain much. Here on the Neo Geo, the caddy lavish you during dozens and dozens of seconds with advices on each of the thirty-six holes that feature the game! Plus the many exclamations and onomatopoeia coming from the announcer, commenting at your performances on the green! In short, TPG is lively and fun with all this ambiance. Music and sound effects are more "classical", with melodies played on a piano, catchy but discrete enough, accompanying you all along the courses, seconded with ball strike sounds, clump of grass cut, trampled grass, but also the delightful sound of the ball falling in the hole to complete the view!

Top Player's Golf interface is ergonomic and well thought out.
Top Player's Golf interface is ergonomic and well thought out.

Less successful for example, the effect of the ball rising into the air... But ok, nobody is perfect, let's not blame our game too fast! After choosing to play alone or with a friend, three gaming modes are offered: the Stroke Play, which is the event where you face all the other players, and in which only the final score after eighteen holes counts; the Match Play is a game against another golfer, hole by hole; and the last one, the most original and fun, is the Nassau Game. It combines these two parameters of play to win over the nine holes of the event, and also two contests, the 'Longest Drive' and the 'Closest to the Pin'. Then, you have to choose between two courses of eighteen holes and four different golfers. The interface is simplistic, but nothing is missing: you can browse each hole completely, and the green in a more detailed way, but also access an aerial view to properly calculate your strategies. All possible clubs are available, and caddy's advice can be consulted during game play. The score sheet can also be accessed at any time by pressing D.

In a bunker, allow at least 30% more power.
In a bunker, allow at least 30% more power.

Once the club and the direction chosen, the power gauge appears. You can hit at a full swing, straight, or choose for a left or right effect, but also make a half-swing (in blue bars), which allows to perform precise approaches. Also, keeping the joystick up or down at this stage can save for the effect on the ball (back spin or top spin). Comprehensive and well thought out, this game system lacks only a little precision, but hey, is not Tiger Woods who wants! You still can handle it quickly enough with a little practice. Each golfer packs his own qualities and flaws, it's up to you to discover which fits best your style. Powerful, technician, accurate... you have the choice! The gameplay is very enjoyable once mastered, you come to do about whatever you want once you got the tempo and the right mechanics to perform great strokes. Both courses are varied and original, and even contain a few surprising holes...

Once on the green, take your time to adjust your putts.
Once on the green, take your time to adjust your putts.

Let's now talk a little about graphics and animation: It's not bad at all! Oh yes, for sure, it's far from compete with to the majestic Big Tournament Golf, but remember we are in 1990 when TPG hits the market... The zooms are high quality and accompany the action with millimetered precision. The different golfers' moves and the ball animations are smooth, just like the water, the wind and the various effects, that all are well made and surpassed at the time all that existed in this genre. Players and stages are finely drawn and the artwork gave a good slap to the competitors! As always with golf games, this kind only attracts a niche clientele, who is adept of the sport itself or literally of the golf videogame (as in my case). Top Player's Golf stands now as a relic, alongside the almost perfect Big Tournament Golf. However, it's still a fun game with great qualities. And amateur of golf games don't make a mistake: yes, it's a little stiff, not perfectly precise, and the gauge goes too fast at times... for sure, the game packs some flaws, more visible today than when it was released, back when the game dazzled everyone. Anyway, TPG remains a great piece of retro-gaming in his genre.


GRAPHICS

85%

The graphics are fine and varied, the players well designed... but the colors are a little too flashy.
ANIMATION 92%
What a pleasure, back in 1990, to see great zooms like these! Player's moves and scrollings are nicely decomposed: a great job!
SOUND 79%
The melodies are not too varied but fit well the action, greatly assisted by the numerous sound effects.
REPLAY VALUE 89%
Four different golfers, three game modes, promising endless competitions for two players!
GAMEPLAY 80%
Quite complete, the gaming system features almost all golf moves and effects. The only downside is the lack of precision of the gauge.... A little training is required.

NEOGEOKULT

RATE

86%
Top Player's Golf stands as an excellent golf game, alas dethroned on the Neo Geo by its successor, Big Tournament Golf.

VALUE FOR MONEY

This SNK golf game can be found generally for forty euros in  either japanese carton or euro/US version. A classic for golf videogame fevers!

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