Golfyssey 20 – Sega 32X

What’s with all these Sega consoles coming out so fast?  Oh, they’re not really consoles?

Continuing Sega’s self-inflicted decline in the 1990s, the 32X was another addon for the Sega Genesis.  It was originally planned to be Sega’s next generation 32-bit console, but was instead released as another clunky addon instead.  This was even after the release of the actual 32-bit console the Saturn was announced.

This is probably Sega’s dumbest move right here.  I can’t really do it justice.  The Angry Video Game Nerd supplies a glorious and vicious beat-down on YouTube, so definitely check that out.

Why the fuck would you release a half-baked not-even-console when you had just announced that your real console will be released soon anyway?  What kind of stunning dumbfuckery is this?  Was Sega’s board of directors secretly run by executives from Nintendo?

Not surprisingly, the game library for the 32X is limited and forgettable.  There is one golf game for this “system”, so let’s take a look see at it.

“36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples”, 1994

36 Holes

36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples 01

36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples 02

At least with this game we can look at some screenshots and say that the graphics have definitely improved.  There are a lot more colours, the sound is near-CD quality and everything is nice and fast again.  There are no CD loading waits with this one.

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There are some setup options, different styles of gameplay and of course  36 different holes of golf you can play.  There is some music playing as you start but you have the option to turn this off.  There is also some commentary by Fred as the game is played, but you can turn this off too.

And I’m happy to report that the narration and commentary ranges from neutral to encouraging.  It’s not like you get to here in “Links: The Challenge of Golf” where you’re practically called a useless sissy for not getting a birdie or an eagle on every hole.

The interface and controls in the game are easy to pick up and consistent as well.

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Here we see the start of play at the first hole.  All of the information we need to see is clearly displayed.

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Pressing the Start button will bring up this menu.  From here, we can customize our view, drop the ball, see the score, load and save the game and go back into the options.

Now would be a good time to talk about this sort of translucent interface they have going here.  It can be hard to read, especially if there is a sand trap on the screen.

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Back in the main view, the A button brings up an interface to adjust your stance and adjust the draw and fade meter.  Use the direction pad for this.  Up and down controls stance, left and right controls draw/fade.

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The B button will cycle through shot types.  Above you can see Fred about to take a chip shot and a putt.

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The power meter is displayed directly below the animated golfer.  It is 3-button press type and it has two bars, just like good old “Leaderboard Golf” for the Commodore 64.  Be sure to take that wind into account when you are setting up your swing.

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A window will appear in a corner of the screen to show your ball as it approaches and lands.  This is one feature of this game that I find to be particularly useful and well done.  Also well done are the movement animations in general and all of the physics.  The ball behaves like a real ball, perhaps the most real I’ve seen since “PGA European Tour” for the Sega Genesis.

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After each shot, you get a summary along with the option to view a replay.  You also get the option to save any replay, just in case you make an amazing shot that you really need to show to someone after the fact.

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Getting onto the putting green brings up the grid automatically, unless you turn this feature off in the options.

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The end of the hole.  You can see what I mean when I say that this interface can be hard to read sometimes.

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The scorecard.

I think this is a great game.  There are some flaws, and I wonder if this game’s good parts made it into future releases on any other consoles.  I will definitely be playing this one again.  Lately – with some notable exceptions  – playing through these games that I have been reviewing has felt like a chore.  This game certainly did not.  I actually played four holes before I forced myself to stop and take screenshots.

One flaw, and I’m not sure if this is actually the case, but I think you can only play as Fred Couples.  I’ve never heard of him before, so I really can’t say that I’m Fred Couples’ biggest fan and that it’s a dream come true to don the pink shirt and call myself Fred C for a day.  Another flaw is the one I talked about above where some of what’s displayed on the screen can be kind of hard to read sometimes.  But those are minor when the feel of the game is taken as a whole.

One thing I really liked was the realism of getting stuck in thick trees.  You do not want to be stuck with your ball in thick trees in this game.  Trees are like real trees in this game, and your ball will bounce off them and right back in your direction more often than not.

I can tell that this is a very well-made game.  It’s just too bad that it came out for a doomed system that was such a joke in the first place.  I don’t think many people have ever played this game, but if you like golf games, you should try it.  If you have a Sega Genesis, and you feel like searching out the dreaded mushroom that is the 32X, then head over to ebay and take a look.

It would be much easier to just use the Kega Fusion emulator and play this on your computer, because that emulator can handle 32X games as well.  I’m going to call this a “top 10 of all time” golf video game because it’s that good.