Anyone who pays any attention to this site should have known that a golf game would be among the first that I’d review for a newly-added console. The only other golf game on the system is the much older Top Players Golf, and given my choice I would have reviewed it first to give a fairer comparison, but I don’t have it and I can’t wait to rave about this gem.
Neo Turf Masters sat squarely at the top of my want-list, and for good reason, as it’s easily one of the best golf games I’ve ever played. Much like League Bowling or Baseball Stars 2, Neo Turf Masters can be a great party game (with the right crowd). It actually reminds me a bit of Hot Shots Golf for the Playstation, in that it combines playability and approachability with enough depth to appeal to both the hardcore golf game fan and the casual gamer alike. Slight miscalculations or a late button hit on a game like PGA Tour Golf can cost you dearly, and while it certainly has an effect in NTM it’s not nearly as disastrous, making it more beginner-friendly.
72 holes spread across 4 fictional courses and 6 playable characters give the game plenty of variety and replayability. Mastered the game with the American golfer? Switch to the Japanese dude and it’s a whole new ball of wax. The game also features both single and 2-player stroke play, as well as 2-player-only match play.
Neo Turf Masters has great music and sound effects, and provides some of the most memorable voice samples on the Neo-Geo. Phrases like “ON THE GREEN!!!” and “This is Nancy’s report” will be stuck in your head long after you’ve turned the games off. It also has top-notch visuals. As expected, the character sprites are humongous and detailed, the swing animation is noticably smooth, and scrolling backgrounds during cutscenes give the game a sense of 3-dimensional depth.
I really can’t say enough good things about Neo Turf Masters. The game is nothing less than a must-buy for the Neo-Geo, whether you like golf or not.