More Saturn Sports Titles! – PGA Tour ’97, Worldwide Soccer, World Series Baseball ’98

I was never much into golf video games during the 80s and 90s (no, the occasional Golden Tee play at the bars didn’t count) and it would take Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’06 on the PlayStation 2 for me to finally appreciate one. If I would have owned a Sega Saturn in the 90s and bought a copy of PGA Tour ’97, by Electronic Arts, I have a feeling I would have been turned off golf games for good. PGA Tour ’97 for the Saturn is terribly underwhelming considering there were golf games available for the Genesis that looked and played better than this. It’s a standard golf game in the fact that you’re given about a dozen or so professional golfers to choose from, or if you choose, you can create your own player. The layout and menus look a lot like EA’s NBA Live ’97, and their odd refusal to capitalize proper nouns during these 1996 released games always bothered me. Ooh, edgy! You are rejecting the notion of fundamental English rules! Anyway, you only have 2 courses to choose from, which seems lazy, but the worst parts about this version of PGA Tour is the little stuff. For starters, your ball is a fuzzy, non-circular mess that floats on the pixelated ground after it lands. That’s still a forgivable transgression even if looks bad. However, your jaws will drop in disbelief when you realize your digitized golfer will literally take 5 seconds to perform their swing animation after you’ve pressed the necessary combo buttons. You hit the buttons and then stare at your golfer wondering if the game is glitching or if it even registered your button presses at all until you finally see them start their backswing and you realize, “oh, I guess this game is just painfully slow.” You ever talk to someone that takes an uncomfortably long time to answer fairly straightforward questions? PGA Tour ’97’s response time is like that. Also, I don’t like how it doesn’t default you to the most logical club and shot based on your distance from the hole. That should just be a standard for all golf games in my opinion. PGA Tour ’97 is an ugly mess that isn’t unplayable, but that doesn’t make it worth actually playing either.

Worldwide Soccer aka Sega International Victory Goal Edition was one of the games available to Saturn owners for the surprise May 1995 launch in North America. Considering Americans’ lukewarm embrace of soccer, this was a curious choice to have available for sports game enthusiasts right out of the gate. Granted, WWS is a pretty good soccer game, similar to FIFA for the 3DO, which I reviewed as part of my collection a couple of months back. Like FIFA, you can play as your favorite international team and compete in tournaments against the computer or human opponents. Despite this being a generally positive reviewed title, there’s no way I would have bought Worldwide Soccer upon release if I was an early Saturn adopter. I didn’t grow up playing soccer and I don’t follow it today but I can see the appeal as a sport and as a video game series. Worldwide Soccer for the Saturn looks good, plays well and the controls are intuitive and easy to learn. What more can you ask for?

On the flipside of my disinterest in soccer, baseball is a sport that I’ve been following since I can remember being alive. I was a huge baseball card collector in the late 80s and really got into baseball video games thanks to NES titles such as Baseball Stars, RBI Baseball and Bases Loaded. During my junior high/middle school period from 1987-1990, baseball was my favorite sport to watch, collect for, play in real life (whiffle ball to be honest as I always sucked at real baseball) and in video games. By the time the Saturn/PlayStation era rolled around, I had moved on from baseball to football and basketball as my favorite sports. I went a long, long time between baseball game purchases from the NES era until I picked up World Series Baseball ’98 for the Saturn in the early to mid 2000s. I’m certainly glad I did. I was blown away by the look of this game from the 3D polygon perspective and how much better it looks than many of the 3D polygons rendered during the first year of the system, or how much better it looks than the ugly digitized sprites used in the previously mentioned PGA Tour ’97. WSB98 is fluidly controlled and thankfully doesn’t stray too far away from one of the things that makes the best baseball video games so great, their easy learning curves. I didn’t really want to read the entire manual to learn how to play a baseball game and thankfully I didn’t have to. World Series Baseball does just about everything right from the gameplay standpoint and Sega definitely knocked this one out of the park.

Currently in my collection:

PGA Tour ’97 – game, manual, case C-

Worldwide Soccer: International Victory Goal Edition – game, manual, case B

World Series Baseball ’98 – game, manual, case A-

I think it’s hilarious that the tagline for World Series Baseball ’98 talks about the game “bulking up” when this came out during the height of the steroid era.


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