Links 386 Pro

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Links 386 Pro
Links 386 Pro cover art.jpg
Developer(s)Access Software
Publisher(s)Access Software
Designer(s)Vance Cook
Kevin Homer
Roger Carver
Artist(s)Bruce Carver
David F. Brown
SeriesLinks
Platform(s)MS-DOS, Macintosh, FM Towns, PC-98
Release
  • NA: 1992 (DOS)
  • NA: 1994 (Mac)
Genre(s)Sports
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Links 386 Pro is a golf simulation sports game for MS-DOS released in 1992. It is part of the Links series, and was developed by Access Software as the follow-up to Links: The Challenge of Golf (1990). A Macintosh version, Links Pro, was released in 1994.[1] An enhanced version called Links 386 CD was released for PC in 1995 that included audio comments by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait acting as the player's caddie, and an aerial flyby of each hole streamed from the game's CD-ROM. Re-branded versions of the game were also released for Microsoft Windows under the titles Microsoft Golf 2.0 (1994) and Microsoft Golf 3.0 (1996), part of the Microsoft Golf series.

Gameplay[edit]

Players select a male or female character and their clothing.[2] They select the level of play (beginner, amateur, and pro) and tee position.[3] The player can control character direction and foot position,[4] and the shot is controlled by a swing meter, held to the top for power and released and clicked again as it swings back to the bottom for direction - early will hook and late will slice.[5] Players can select from multiple views, split the screen, and record shots.[2][5] Shots can be repeated (a mulligan) and short putts taken (a gimme).[5]

In 1994, the Computer Sports Network ran the Links Tour, an online tournament of 250 players accessible via modem.[6]

Technical features[edit]

The game ran relatively quickly because it was written in assembly code,[7] though courses could take several seconds to be drawn on less powerful systems.[3] The courses were drawn piece by piece, beginning with the backdrop, then the buildings, then the plants.[5] It was considered to use a large amount of memory for the time, running best on 8 MB.[2] On the Mac, it ran best on a Power Mac[2] and on the PC at least a 386 was required.[3] Some features could be turned off to increase the running speed.[5] The game featured Super VGA graphics, one of the first games to do so.[3] It features sounds such as birds, frogs, comments from the golfers, and applause.[2][8][4] On the Mac, voice control of the game was available.[2]

Different versions of Links 386 Pro, Links 386 CD, and the Microsoft Golf derivatives included either one or two courses presented through digitized images, and additional courses could be purchased separately. Lower resolution courses for the earlier game, Links: The Challenge of Golf, can be converted for play in Links 386 Pro.[3][9] A subsequent version, titled Links 386 CD,[10] includes the voice of Bobcat Goldthwait as the player's caddie.[11]

Through a deal with Access Software, Microsoft published its own Links games for Microsoft Windows under the Microsoft Golf name. Microsoft Golf 2.0 (1994; Windows 3.0) is a version of Links 386 Pro that includes Firestone South Course and Torrey Pines South Course,[12][13][14] while Microsoft Golf 3.0 (1996; Windows 95) features the same courses as Links 386 Pro.[15][16] Microsoft Golf 3.0 was included with many personal computers as a pre-loaded game.[17] Both Microsoft Golf 2.0 and Golf 3.0 have 16-bit Windows components [18] but also make use of Win32s. [19]

Courses[edit]

Links 386 Pro had one included course, Harbour Town, and additional courses could be purchased separately under the "Links Championship Courses" branding.[20] Microsoft Golf 2.0 instead included Torrey Pines and Firestone. Links 386 CD and Microsoft Golf 3.0 also featured Harbour Town but added a second course that varied regionally, with North American copies including Banff Springs while Europe received The Belfry.

Additional courses could be purchased individually on floppy disc or CD, with some releases including a flyby video for use only with Links 386 CD, Microsoft Golf 2.0, and Microsoft Golf 3.0. Most of the add-on courses would later be offered in four 5-course bundles that were also compatible with later releases in the series.

In addition to buying courses, a tool was included with the game that could convert the eight courses that had been made available for the original Links: The Challenge of Golf: Torrey Pines, Firestone, Bountiful Municipal Golf Course, Bay Hill Club, Pinehurst Country Club, Dorado Beach East Course, Barton Creek-Fazio, and Troon North. The converted courses were at a lower resolution than the courses natively created for Links 386, and newer versions of these courses were later sold with better graphics.[20]

Reception[edit]

Links 386 Pro was a commercial success, with sales of roughly 400,000 units by July 1994. At the time, Bruce Carver of Access Software estimated that its actual ownership number was "at least 1.6 million" thanks to software piracy.[28]

The graphics were much praised, described as "almost photo-realistic".[2] Some players complained that achieving a low scoring round was too easy.[4] Computer Gaming World in 1992 stated "the final word in golf—for now, at least—is Links 386 Pro, praising the game's "stunning" Super VGA graphics and "dream come true" gameplay. The magazine predicted that "it is quite likely that the only thing to ever beat this game will be yet another version of Links.[4]

In 1993 Links received a Codie award from the Software Publishers Association for Best Sports Program,[26][27] and Computer Gaming World awarded it Overall Game of the Year, stating that doing so was "pretty obvious" given how long Links 386 Pro had been at the top of the magazine's Top 100 Games list.[25] In 1994, it was reported that "Links 386 Pro easily leads the market for golf games".[6] That year, PC Gamer US named Links 386 Pro the 6th best computer game ever. The editors called it "one of the most polished and professional games ever produced".[29] In 1996, Computer Gaming World declared Links 386 the 26th-best computer game ever released.[30]

In 2014, PC PowerPlay listed Links 386 Pro among the 100 most influential PC games, saying it was "the perfect way to demonstrate all 40MHz worth of computing power in one’s brand new PC."[31]

The Age reviewed the Macintosh version, Links Pro, and wrote that "great depth and realism makes it the golf game for serious indoor swingers."[1] Links Pro received a score of 4.5 out of 5 from MacUser.[22] Links Pro sold 19,699 during 1997 in the United States, and was among that year's best-selling Mac games in the country.[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "There's no handicap with golf on the Mac". The Age. August 30, 1994. Retrieved April 18, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Kinne, Richard (August 22, 1994). "Links Pro Hits a Hole in One". TidBITS.
  3. ^ a b c d e Trivette, Donald (September 28, 1993). "The Desktop Athlete". PC Mag.
  4. ^ a b c d McDonald, T. Liam (November 1992). "Links 386 Pro from Access". Computer Gaming World. No. 100. pp. 72–74. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e Mann, Richard (January 1993). "Links 386 Pro". Compute!.
  6. ^ a b Schwabach, Bob (November 1, 1994). "Golfers don't need to depend on the weather to hit the links". The Milwaukee Journal.
  7. ^ Cawkell, Tony (2 September 2003). "Home and Consumer Applications". The Multimedia Handbook. p. 323. ISBN 9781134777112.
  8. ^ Cohen, Julie (December 22, 1992). "Holiday software". PC Mag.
  9. ^ "Links: Master List of Available Courses". Microsoft.com.
  10. ^ a b Scisco, Peter (May 3, 1996). "Links 386 CD". GameSpot. Archived from the original on February 9, 2005.
  11. ^ Duncan, Corey (January 11, 2017). "Behind the Game: From Leader Board Golf to Links 2004". IndieBuilt.com. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  12. ^ "Golfers can now slice ball on computer screen". Gannett News Service. November 10, 1994. Retrieved April 18, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ a b Scisco, Peter (January 1995). "A Spot of Tee: A Desktop Putter Takes A Threesome To The Greens". Computer Gaming World. pp. 182–183.
  14. ^ Access Software (1994). Microsoft Golf 2.0. Microsoft.
  15. ^ a b May, Scott A. (April 1997). "Links Lite: Microsoft Golf 3.0 Levels the Field for Win 95 Golfers". Computer Gaming World. p. 112.
  16. ^ "War games, sport and monster madness". The Age. September 5, 1996. Retrieved June 20, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "Tee time? PC time". Kokomo Tribune. November 14, 1998. Retrieved June 20, 2019 – via Newspapers.com. If your PC came loaded with Microsoft Golf 3.0, as many do [...]
  18. ^ Microsoft Golf 3.0
  19. ^ Q138557: PRB: Golf 2.0 Overwrites WIN32s Files
  20. ^ a b Links 386 Pro Players Manual. Access Software Incorporated. 1992. pp. 6–7.
  21. ^ Mooney, Shane (March 25, 1997). "Microsoft Golf 3.0". Gamecenter. Archived from the original on November 19, 2000.
  22. ^ a b LeVitus, Bob (December 1995). "The Game Room". MacUser. Archived from the original on January 22, 2000. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  23. ^ "Click and Putt". PC Magazine. September 23, 1997. pp. 321–322. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  24. ^ "The Best of the Year: The Compute Choice Awards". Compute!. January 1993. pp. 65, 80.
  25. ^ a b "Computer Gaming World's Game of the Year Awards". Computer Gaming World. October 1993. pp. 70–74. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Awards - Thy Name Is Controversy". Computer Gaming World. May 1993. p. 146. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  27. ^ a b "1993 Winners". Software and Information Industry Association. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  28. ^ Staff (July 1994). "Insider Interview: Bruce Carver, Access Software". Electronic Entertainment. 1 (7): 80, 81.
  29. ^ Staff (August 1994). "PC Gamer Top 40: The Best Games of All Time". PC Gamer US (3): 32–42.
  30. ^ Staff (November 1996). "150 Best (and 50 Worst) Games of All Time". Computer Gaming World. No. 148. pp. 63–65, 68, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 84, 88, 90, 94, 98.
  31. ^ Gillooly, John (October 20, 2014). "The 100 most influential PC games OF ALL TIME". PC PowerPlay.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2000-08-16. Retrieved 2020-02-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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