Genesis Reviews

Pebble Beach Golf Links

Genre: Sports Developer: T&E Soft Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1-4 Released: 1994

Pebble Beach Golf Links is a golf simulator that recreates all eighteen holes of the famous course of the same name. One of the most well regarded golf courses in America is now open for play in the comfort of your own home on your Sega Mega Drive.

The gameplay is simple and very refined. You first have to pick your club and set up your stance. After that, you have to determine how hard you are going to hit the ball and where you will hit the ball with two accuracy meters that you have to start and stop at the precise time. This process may be rudimentary, but it’s incredibly satisfying when you manage to hit a ball that flies perfectly down the course. It’s also worth noting that the gameplay is very easy to pick up and play. I started this game without any previous knowledge of how to play and in minutes, I was scoring birdies and pars.

Pebble Beach is an easy game to learn, but it’s hard to master. To add challenge to the courses, uneven terrain is scattered throughout the playing field. There are dips, hills, and humps everywhere in each of the courses. This not only gives the gameplay more challenge, but it also adds a slight tinge of realism. Moreover, the weather is completely random every time you start the game. Often, you can go through all eighteen holes, and it’ll stay sunny until dusk. Other times, you could have scattered showers throughout the day. When it rains, the rain suppresses the distance of your shots, and putting takes a lot more effort on wet grass. Wind is also a randomized factor. Every time you pick a specific course to play, the wind speed and direction is entirely different. With these added qualifiers, you’ll never play a course the same way twice.

The graphics are rather impressive. Whenever you start a course, you are given an intro movie showing you the entirety of it fully rendered in 3D. I’m surprised the Mega Drive could do something so visually pleasing without the aid of an add-on like the 32X. Another impressive fact is that all of the courses have detailed elements of depth to them. The eighth hole is a prime example of how good the 3D graphics are on this game; it has the green elevated on a flat-shaded polygonal cliff. There are also nice dips, slopes, and divets in the terrain, making the game look more organic.

When you take into account all of the amount of visual detail and graphical prowess of this game, I can say without hesitation that Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of the most graphically impressive golf simulators of the 16-bit era. Sure, the opening movies that display a rendered 3D environment have a slow frame rate, but they run full screen. PGA Tour 2 also had intro movies, but those didn’t run entirely in full screen. It’s also worth mentioning that the SNES ports of golfing games had incredibly fast intro movies, but the terrain on the courses had no depth. The courses were as flat as an F-Zero race track. It seems that Mode-7 can’t render polygonal floors without the help of a Super FX chip.

The soundtrack is surprisingly good for a 16-bit sports game. Most of the tracks are memorable and hold up better then the soundtrack to the SNES port of Pebble Beach. There aren’t many songs in the game, but the ones provided are quite catchy. I often find myself humming the background music while I line up my shots.

Pebble Beach Golf Links is perfect for somebody who wants a great golfing experience for their Sega Mega Drive. This game has everything you could possibly ask for in a golf title: satisfying gameplay, beautiful visuals, and a catchy soundtrack. Pebble Beach Golf Links gets a well deserved eight out of ten.

SCORE: 8 out of 10


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