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Golf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples (Sega 32X) artwork

Golf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples (Sega 32X) review

"Golf puns sold separately."

Golf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples is the title of a production absolutely desperate to leave nothing at all to the consumer's imagination. Itís a golf game. About golf. 36 holes are featured. Also, Fred Couples is there.

Fredís not the massive golf personality he once was, this much is true, but his game has bigger worries than the diminishing star power of their license. Thereís a quite a large amount of people who are willing to spend a lot of time and money pursuing their virtual golf interests, but very few of them (or very few of any other demographic) owns a 32X. If they did, however, good news, Fred! Your game is the only such title on the entire system. Take cheer where you can get it; thereís not a lot of it to go around.

Iím sounding a bit negative, and thatís a little unfair. GM:36GHSFC may have an acronymed title that looks like your catís just stalked across your keyboard (mine always manages to hit caps lock, too) but itís not a bad game just because the platform it was released on was a huge flop. Itís actually pretty competent, displaying production values higher than the standard 16-bit console fare of the time. It makes some brave efforts at punching above its weight; thereís (very) limited commentary from Fred Couples included, but because lines are (very) limited they will repeat often. Thereís a lot of little features youíll recognise that are still employed today, like a separate window showing you your ballís landing after completing a shot, and being able to receive decent advice from your caddy. Analogue gamepads were still the frenzied dreams of madmen, and shots couldnít be governed with stick flicking like modern gamers are long used to. So a static bar was employed instead. Still, rather than regurgitate that triple-click single bar nonsense games like PGA once tried to pass off, this is one game willing to innovate. Rather, it employs a triple-click double bar which tracks both your power and your accuracy not just on their own private grid, but with unique colour coding, too!

Iím still poking some fun; the system is a slight cosmetic upgrade from the then-established mechanic, but is both serviceable and precise. Your first click starts the swing, which starts the top red bar. Your second stops that bar depending on how hard you want to hit the ball, which triggers the bottom blue bar, which you need to stop in an exact place to ensure perfect connection with your third click. Nail that, and your ball sails serenely into the distance. Mess it up, and it could spin off somewhere unpleasant, like the rough or an unfortunate sand trap.

The thing that really gives Fredís obscure golf game its sense of uniqueness is also right there in the title. The entire game consists of only 36 holes which is the equivalent of a measly two rounds, but these are specific holes picked out from twenty seven real life courses. Sure, the downside is that people investing significant time into the title are going to see the same holes cropping up again and again, but it banishes humdrum fillers and offers nothing but showcases. You even have the option to list them by Fredís own preference - he takes his inclusion in this game very seriously.

Still, that last one strikes me as a great idea that I donít recall seeing elsewhere. The chance to play an established proís fantasy course is an opportunity not championed enough. Thereís seven different game modes included, ranging from match play, shoot outs and skins games that help add a sense of variety that the low number of selectable holes does end up hamstringing. A proposed follow-up that would have been a 32X-CD title (those power-hogs that need the Mega Drive and both the 32X and SEGA CD add-ons to work) never materialised as the platform lost what little relevance it held, and the series never managed anything other than its initial release. Itís a shame; with a greater back catalogue of dream holes to mix and match as you please, and a release on a platform of worth, GM:36GHSFC might have been a serviceable starting point. But itís not. And Iím not ending this review with an awful and predictable golf pun about being over par or hitting a double bogey. I donít care if I just have to end it awkwardly right here; itís not going to happen.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (July 31, 2016)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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