I am a sucker for golf games. Despite my general apathy towards the sport, I have been a fan of it in video game form since Golf on the NES. Since I’m also starving for different types of gaming experiences to try on the Switch, Neo Turf Masters fit perfectly in the middle of my personal Venn diagram. It has its quirks, but my experience with it was fairly positive.
Neo Turf Masters is a golf title that made its way onto Neo Geo arcade machines in the mid 90s. As part of purchasing it on the Nintendo Switch, you’re getting access to the North American version, Japanese version, and two new modes that have online leaderboards. From what I can tell, there are only minor differences between the American and Japanese versions, though the Japanese version still mostly uses English text.
What might be considered a pro to some, this appears to basically be the original ROM dropped into an emulator. As the game is starting, a screen appears showing you how to translate the original Neo Geo controls onto your Switch. It’s confusing at first, but the controls of the game are simple enough to grasp.
The other quirk that comes with playing the original ROM is that you have to insert credits to play and continue your progress. You can mash on the button to give you a ton of credits to start, so this is a minor quirk. However, it becomes a touch more problematic if you trigger the continue state, which occurs when you go past your stroke buffer. At that point, your progress is being slowed down in order for you to add more credits or continue the game. Would much prefer the ability to play straight through, but it’s a trade-off in exchange for an authentic port.
The game comes with four fictional 18-hole courses. They take place in real parts of the world and they are somewhat realistic, though they are a bit crazier than things you’d find on the PGA Tour. They were certainly a good challenge, even handing me my butt in a few spots.
Controls seemed fairly intuitive, albeit a bit dated. You used a single tap to control power and another tap to control height. You can set your hook and slice beforehand, taking that out of the timing equation. I do wish you had a bit more control of your camera angle, as it’s stuck behind your golfer, not allowing you to take a view of the ball’s landing area. You also don’t get a preview of the arc, making it a bit weird trying to navigate tricky shots around trees. Once I got a feel for it, getting the ball into the hole was fun and without much hassle.
For under $10, Neo Turf Masters is a serviceable golf experience on the Switch. A bit dated and with a few quirks, you’ll still have fun navigating through the game’s courses, especially if you can get a friend to play with you. Wouldn’t be surprised if this gets dwarfed by Mario Golf or another higher-quality golf game, but players who must have their golf fix on the Switch should have a good time with this one.