Neo Geo games back in the 90s were something you would either experience in the arcade, or at a particularly wealthy friend’s house, in fact, I didn’t even know anybody with a Neo Geo. So, getting to play some of the excellent Neo Geo library was not something I did until well into the 2000s via emulation.
There are a decent amount of classics on the Neo Geo, but one that has always stood out and has kept me coming back is Neo Turf Masters.
Golf games are often an acquired taste. I’m not particularly a fan of golf, but golf games, I’ve always had plenty of time for. They are games that you can dictate the pace at which you play, meaning they are often good for a quick 20 minutes, or playing through days and days of tournaments. Neo Turf Masters, though, offers more of the 20 minutes kind of gameplay to blast your way through taking as few shots as possible.
Presented in a perfect Japanese arcade style, Neo Turf Masters has stacks of charm with it’s simplicity as well as excellent sound and artwork. You choose from 6 characters, each with their own skill strengths, then go to play one of the four courses available. There are two game modes, Match & Stroke play. Stroke play see’s you taking part in the final day of a tournament and you need to ace as many holes as possible to fight your way up the leaderboard. There is a catch though, any dropped shots below par will see your credits drop, and if you drop below zero you will need to use a continue in order to carry on the round.
Neo Turf Masters offers a simple playing mechanism, adopting the classic power meter where you simply press fire to start the meter, again to stop it and then again to set the accuracy and loft of the shot. There are also simple to use draw and fade shots which are set up by a single button press. All you have to do is select your club (although the most appropriate club is selected for you), set your shot angle and then go for it – Anybody can play.
It is a breath of fresh air to play Neo Turf Masters, where most golf games these days are technical, like the Golf Club, or too whimsical like the many crazy golf games available on pretty much every platform. Neo Turf masters gives you some arcade golf action, which is something you can’t say very often these days.
It’s a perfect game for the gamer who has limited time and is excellent with a friend, a real retro classic!