This game starts off well enough, by which I mean that it has a nice looking menu system, but once you get past that and into the game itself, PGA Tour 96 falls apart fast.
The developer was obviously a bit overzealous in trying to push the PGA Tour series into the future. The environments are all rendered in 3D, but on a 16-bit system this can take 10 seconds or more to load. Since the environment obviously has to be redrawn after every shot, this slows the game down tremendously. Additionally, the game doesn’t look as detailed as it had in the past because the Genesis is simply unable to display enough colors on the screen simultaneously to properly texture 3-dimensional objects.
Still, PGA Tour 96 is an important installment, as it marks the change between the 16 and 32-bit generation’s style of golf games. The simple swing meter has been replaced with the now familiar swing arc surrounding the player’s body. Instead of moving at a constant rate, this meter speeds up as you reach the apex of the swing, making it more difficult to execute a perfect shot. Also, the game does not switch to a reverse-angle view after you complete your swing, so it’s more difficult to see where your ball lands.
The game features only 3 courses, and 2 of them are carried over from the previous game; Spyglass Hill being the lone new addition. PGA Tour Golf has all of the gameplay options of the previous games, and it is now possible to play as any one of 10 PGA tour pros. Still, this game lacks that which made the other PGA Tour games such a blast to play.
This game serves as an interesting example of the growing pains some games suffered as they transitioned to 3D and is worth playing once just for the experience, but it’s doubtful that you’ll ever find yourself wanting to come back to it.