Whatever Happened To? Part 10 : Virtua Golf.

Back in late 2000, many projects came and went again for the Dreamcast, what was once a dead-cert that a Naomi based arcade game would see a DC conversion, became sadly hit and miss at best, often resources were pulled from a quick Dreamcast port, to a more involved other console conversion due to the audience fading away from Sega’s machine. What would also occur is some games would be planned for home release and then be later locked away to be forever just an arcade board, one such example is game number 10 in the series; Virtua Golf.

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Announced in the late part of 2000, it was Sega who were planning to bring this arcade board (and perhaps the last in the Virtua sports range?) home to their own hardware, this was to be a good turn for the Dreamcast as golf games had been sadly lacking with mostly Tee Off seen as the main gap filler there. Virtua Golf was a gorgeous looking title that shared many graphical cues from Virtua Tennis 2 and Sports Jam (which in itself had a golf mode), it was developed by Sega WOW who had developed Sega GT, Bass Fishing and Alien Front Online to name a few, this sports game could really have done well on the machine, as it stands, golf is a quite popular sport and EA had success with it’s Tiger Woods series of games.

Being known as Dynamic Golf in Japan, and already running on Dreamcast derived arcade hardware, the game was up to 4 players and featured a roller ball which could control your power whilst rolling toward the screen would take the shot, this is a departure from the tried amnd tested shot guage found in all golf games before Tiger Woods revolutionised the control method with analogue stick control. Surprisingly in-depth were the modes of play, which unlike other arcade games at the time, featured most of the modes expected of a home title, even a full 18 hole endurance mode.

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Typical Sega blue skies were found in this game, it looked great for a 2001 game, and seemed to have all the right mix for the home port treatment, so what went wrong? Well, to be honest I think Dreamcast Magazine were a bit premature in 2000, saying this was coming to the console – they later, in 2001 featured it on their missing games section, with that year coming to a close, and Sega seemingly less interested in persuing the Dreamcast, I’d be surprised if this made it past the ‘is it possible’ stage, which yes, it would have easily ported across but like many really impressive games from that era that were meant to be eyed with the Dreamcast in mind, it just wasn’t meant to be and this one is locked to the arcade without emulating the board. Such a shame.

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