Whilst this was indeed a bold attempt at pushing the console to its limits, the downsides were all too obvious for anyone who tried to play the game for more than ten minutes. After the initial 'wow, look at those fantastic graphics!' factor, players would soon realise the thing runs about as quickly as Geoff Capes in a fat suit on a rain-sodden Hackney Marshes. Whilst local kids throw wet sponges and rotten fruit at him.
These new graphical enhancements took their toll on the MD's processor to the extent it could take anything from 8 to 20 seconds just for the scenery to appear. The Spyglass Hill course in particular, with its ten million trees and bunkers, takes longer to load than Renegade on the Amstrad CPC464. Which is pretty long, and not half as enjoyable.
Yes, the rendered courses were all very picturesque, and the digitised swings of some of the top pro golfers of the time were no doubt impressive.
The game itself introduced some excellent features such as visible hills and troughs, which really would affect the path of the ball, especially on the green. It's also far easier to hole shots from 100 yards, making for some spectacular moments that almost make the whole thing worth it.
Other tweaks such as difficulty levels were welcome additions, and should have made for longevity of gameplay. Unfortunately, though, the Pro setting requires the timing of a superhuman to even hit the ball straight. It'll be a good few years before you can even think about moving on to that, especially with those epic loading times which even the original old Speccy would be proud of.
That leads us conveniently on to the nub of the problem. Whereas later games such as FIFA 98 knew and paid due attention to the Mega Drive's limits, PGA Tour 96 simply tried to do too much with a console that was nearing the end of its natural life by 1995. Sure, it was around this time the likes of Premier Manager really got the most out of ageing technology with its 32MB battery backup. But this version of PGA Tour was just a step too far for the humble Mega Drive.
Recommended prequels: All of 'em
Get if: you have a lot of patience and time to spare. This isn't one of those golf games where you can rush through 18 holes in 18 minutes.
Avoid if: you don't like the pace of golf at the best of times. Because this will have you cheesed off pretty quickly.
PGA Tour '96 [Mega Drive] - also available for 3DO, DOS , PlayStation and SNES
Buy this game
- Rarity Rating: [10=extremely rare] 4.
- Buy at eBay. Price ranges from £1 to £5 not including P&P
- There are still quite a few copies knocking around, especially on the internet, these days. Depending on where you live, you might also stumble across a boxless version in the odd bargain bin or perhaps at a boot sale.