IAN OSBORNE dons plus fours and a stupid sweater to see if the legendary golf game scores an albatross on MS and GG.

Leaderboard owes much of its success to a sophisticated, but easy-to-understand control system. After aiming your shot with a cursor, pressing Button 1 sends the swing-power column shooting up; release fire to stop it. Now the 'hook and slice' bar starts moving. Fast reactions are needed again -stopping above/below the line, the ball will be hooked/sliced. This system is a little tricky to begin with, but once mastered the amount of control you have over shots is stunning Experts use hook and slice to compensate for wind conditions and holes-in-one are possible!

Other features include rotating the view to the left or right and accessing a disappointing overhead map view. A 'punch shot' facility can also be activated to send the ball on a much lower trajectory — perfect for beneath the trees.

JOIN THE CLUB

You get a full set of thirteen clubs to play with, each with maximum and minimum range (shown in manual). On the green the putter's automatically selected and a different control system comes into play. You just set power and direction, there's no slicing or hooking, but must account for the slope of the green — shown by a stake-'n'-shadow diagram.

Shots are practised on the putting green and driving range. The latter's a perfect way of practising judgement of power and hook & slice. After every shot, your spent ball remains on the fairway — invaluable when assessing power. The putting green, however, is disappointing, with a randomly placed ball and a varying slope, but only one shot at each hole! I'd much prefer to play each ball until it is holed, however many shots it takes.

Plays well solo

Budding Faldos can tackle the four courses: three based on real ones, the other specially designed for the game. Up to four players can play, each choosing independently from three skill levels: novice (automatic club selection, no wind, no hook & slice), amateur (no wind) or professional. Like most sports sims, it's great fun played with friends but for once it plays equally well solo.

Slow on the draw

As you can see from the screenshots, graphics aren't exactly breathtaking. The golfers are well drawn and nicely animated, but the course itself is a little sparse, and the 3-D view takes an age to draw.

Sound effects are just as bad, the incidental music is awful, and the FX are about as realistic as one of our deadlines — the clapping effect when a ball is sunk sounds more like someone smashing a plate on a stone floor! However, there is some good speech synthesis and thankfully no background tune, which would've been about as welcome as a fart in a lift.

For all its faults. World Class Leaderboard is fun to play, especially with a friend, and is one of the few games computer-hating parents might enjoy. Tighter presentation and a faster running speed would have made it an essential purchase.

Small-screen golf

The GG game matches up to its big-screen counterpart very well. Graphics are virtually identical, well defined and colourful. Sound is restricted to a title tune and some very good speech. Options remain the same and there are still four courses to choose from so the Master System ratings box applies to the Game Gear version. All the on-screen signals are there, including your chosen club, wind direction and distance to the hole.

The game plays identically to the MS version with the single exception of speed: the courses are drawn slightly faster which definitely improves playability. Predictably, there's no Game Gear-to-Game Gear option, but up to four players take it in turns to play at being Arnold Palmer. Has anyone seen my putter?

IAN

Producer
US Gold
Players MS
1-4
Players GG
1
Price MS
£29.99
Price GG
£29.99
Memory
256K

SF Rating

Presentation
80% - Overhead map view could be better
Visuals
75% - A little blocky, but functional
Sonics
65% - Weak incidental music and poor FX
Playability
76% - Good gameplay, but it could've been faster
Lastability
89% - Will certainly find its niche in your collection

79%

An good golf game that could've been even better with tightening up

Rating
79
Reviewer
Sega Force magazine
Region
UK
Scans
Sega Force - Issue 01

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