EA Sports tried to cram its marvelous PlayStation PGA game into a Genesis game, and it just didn't fit. The glaring compromises appear in the erratic graphics and incomplete controls.
PGA '96 doesn't step that far ahead of its Genesis precursors. Create your own player or choose from ten pros (like Lee Janzen and Fuzzy Zoeller), then hit one of three courses in Stroke, Skins, Tournament, Match, Shootout, and Practice modes. You can still choose your clubs, adjust the wind, and put draw, fade, and backspin on the ball.
The trouble begins with the controls. As in the PlayStation version, your club swings through a blue arc that you stop in order to set the power and accuracy.
But the shot-planning features of the PlayStation version (the yellow targeting arrow) and of the previous Genesis versions (the swing meter's percentage marks and the putting view) have fallen off the golf game. These shortcomings prevent you from precisely calculating your shot, robbing you of the ability to play tight golf.
- If you've developed pinpoint accuracy, go for an eagle on a par 5 hole by maxing out the power on your first two shots so that you land on the green.
- On putts that rise up an incline or break to either side, hit the ball a little harder to cover the extra distance.
- Shots with wooden clubs have a long roll, which can interfere with precise shots when landing on the green. Use some backspin as a countermeasure.
Graphically, the brightly colored 3D terrain imbues the courses with a more realistic look, and the lifelike digitized sprites move fluidly. In close, though, the 3D effect often looks too choppy and geometrical, like you're playing in a world of triangles.
Worst of all, you'll fidget through an intolerable 5- to 15- second wait every time the screen redraws. The sounds add to the mediocrity with the usual chirpy birds, decent ball noises, and flaky music.
Genesis golfers should stick with PGA Tour IE, the pinnacle of the series. If you're dying for a fresh round of golf, check out the masterful PlayStation game.