Genre: Sports Developer: T&E Soft Publisher: Sega of Japan Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
The Genesis/Mega Drive is in no way shape or form capable of doing scaling in any kind of graceful form. The Sega CD has a bit more horsepower and could handle the scaling to a certain extent, but it wasn’t until the 32X came out that Sega’s 16-bit console could properly do any kind of scaling or 3D well. Perhaps those above mentioned statements are the best way to sum up this review. Devil’s Course is a fantasy golf game that’s incredible resource hungry and is a game whose only hope of performing properly would be to have a home on the 32X.
Devil’s Course was developed by T&E Soft and published by Sega in 1994 for the Mega Drive. It was never released outside of Japan on Sega’s console, though it did make it to the SNES and 3DO, where it’s known as Wicked 18. The game is a fantasy golf simulation that throws one of the most difficult courses at you that’s ever been devised. Upon starting up, you’re treated to a very sizable menu. Unfortunately it’s all in Japanese, so you’re going to have to blindly search around to find the options and modes you’re looking for.
Once you finally get started you’re treated to a game who’s mechanics are easily on par with anything Electronic Arts could throw at us with its PGA Tour Golf series, so the game has that going for it. Now, I’m sure I haven’t discovered everything there is to see here, but it’s got multi-player, stroke and skins modes and much more and you can even customize your player if you manage to blindly find your way through the menus. Once you get started, you’ll realize that the game takes a very realistic approach to the mechanics and control of the ball. You can choose your club and your direction of shot, but you can only hook or slice a ball depending on your stance and which area of the ball you hit. I actually really like this type of play, as it forces me to try harder and play much more precisely and accurately.
The game is one full course, or 18 holes long and is fantasy at its finest. Have you ever wanted to golf around lava pools? How about jagged cliffs, or floating islands or anything else you can imagine? If you did, then it’s all here for your liking. This game throws some of the hardest golf at you that you could ever imagine. Some of the holes have enormous pillars that you have to avoid, others have bottomless pits. Probably the most miserably difficult hole in the game has a hole at the top of a mountain peak and the green spirals its way up the mountain very sharply.
I’ve talked about the mechanics of the game play pretty highly so far, but let’s talk about the part of the game that makes it such a chore to play: the issues with the visuals. This is a 3D game, but unfortunately that’s for the worst. The programmers tried their hardest to make a competent game, but the thing just chugs and lags miserably on the standalone Genesis console. The frame rate is so slow here, and since the Genesis can’t handle scaling worth a darn, the screen just keeps redrawing itself as the ball moves. It’s just flat-out tiresome to watch. If the ball slowly rolls down a hill you can expect the game to keep redrawing screens for what seems like forever.
The visuals also don’t work well enough for you to tell where you hit a ball and where it will land. The game can’t keep up with the speed of the ball, and the visuals are just too grainy to tell anything apart at far distances. If you’re in a hilly area or have to go up a mountain you can expect it to turn into a guessing game as to where you should hit the ball. You’ll have to play the game to see just how difficult it really is as the screen shots make the game look tolerable and don’t do a bit of justice to how bad the game looks and plays when it’s running. If you’re really persistent, as I was, the 18th hole takes place during a sunset and helps alleviate some of the visual strain.
If there’s one thing that I really love about this game, it’s the soundtrack. Devil’s Course may quite possibly be one of my favourite soundtracks in the entire Genesis/Mega Drive library, as it’s really that good. Most all of the tunes are really mellow and laid back and really remind me of some of the more relaxed tunes from the Sonic The Hedgehog titles. If you remember my last Reader Roundtable entry, I put the game in to brush up on it for my review and ended up just listening to the soundtrack, as I just like it that much. The sound effects are also really accurate for a golf game and sound just like they should for a 16-bit golf game.
This is one golf game that I’d bet any amount of cash that no one could ever finish the entire course under par, no matter how hard they try. The only way I could possibly recommend New 3D Golf Simulation: Devil’s Course is if you’re a fan of chip tunes or 16-bit music, since this game really doesn’t have much more to offer. That being said, I still don’t hate it by any means, and it’s not the game’s fault. The programmers did an admirable job with what they had, but a game like this would never work properly on the system. It’s just a shame they didn’t wait to program it for the 32X, and it would have been even better on the Saturn or Playstation. As it stands, fans of 16-bit golf gaming need to look elsewhere for their fix.
SCORE: 4 out of 10