US Gold Ltd
1986
Sport: Action
£9.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
SpeedLock 2

16
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

Leader Board provides every budding Severino Banestaros with the opportunity to take a golf ball for a walk, without getting rained on, catching hypothermia, or even being footsore. As with the real game, the objective is to hit a ball around a golf course in as few shots as possible.

Between one and four 18-hole rounds can be played on four different courses. When more than one course is played, they can be undertaken in any order. Alternatively, the same course can be played, four times in succession. Each course is divided into a tee, a long fairway, and the green - with the hole near its centre. At each hole the golfer's view is given, looking down the fairway to the distant green and flag.

There are three degrees of difficulty for the budding golfer to choose from. At novice level the ball can only be hit straight; at amateur level, hook and slice are introduced; and when professional status is reached, allowance must be made for a wind factor if the bail is not to drift off course.

Fourteen different clubs can be used - all hit the ball over different distances and in different ways. Woods allow the ball to be hit with greater power, essential when just starting from the tee, whilst Irons allow greater control over the medium length shots. Over shorter distances a Pitching Wedge and a Putter are used. The club must be chosen with regard to the distance to the hole, as indicated on the right hand side of the screen - this 'ball to hole ' distance is revised as each shot is successfully played.

Shots are aimed using a cursor, which appears several 'yards' in front of the golfer. Swinging the club requires careful timing and concentration if the ball is to be hit the right distance and not hooked or sliced. Power for each stroke is controllable, with the level of power used shown on the Power Snap indicator on the screen's left hand side. When a shot is hit the ball can be seen curving through the air, and hopefully towards the hole. At the Professional level, tee-off and iron shots are affected by the wind, and allowance must be made if the ball is not to drift away from the hole. To aid the golfer's aim further, an indicator shows the wind's direction and strength (the stronger it is the taller the indicator).

When the ball is on the green, and within 64 feet of the hole, the flag is automatically removed, and the putter selected - no other club can be used while on the green. Unlike other shots, putts travel along the ground and are greatly affected by the incline of greens, which may slope up and downhill, and to the left or right. This must be taken into account when aiming the shot and selecting the level of power. The degree and direction of the slope are shown on the right hand side of the screen.

A score indicator shows which player is in action, how many strokes they have taken at the current hole, and their cumulative score for the round. A par value indicates the number of strokes a good player should take to complete the hole. Each holes par is combined to give a par value for the whole course. A player's score can be equal to (E), above (+), or below (-) this par.

Hazards are encountered on each round, and affect the golfer's score if played incorrectly. Many of the greens and fairways are close to water, or contain other hazards such as bunkers and trees. Should the ball land in any of these, the shot must be replayed from its previous starting point. If the ball is not kept on the course, and hit out of bounds, the golfer is similarly penalised. With every shot that has to be re-taken, a stroke is added to the offending player's score.

CRITICISM

'Okay, a couple of months ago I believed that anything to do with golf sims would be tedious - this month sees me eating my words... Leader Board is really something special! The gameplay is initially slow and unaddictive, but stick with it and Leader Board becomes incredibly compulsive. The graphics are naff, your golfer moves well but the fairway is drab and badly coloured. The sound effects are minimal, but they're not noticeable by their absence. I can't imagine that this will appeal to everyone, but I'm certainly hooked - and I will be for some time to come.' BEN

'The graphics are the main drawing point of games like this. And even though the courses take quite a while to draw out, I think it's worth it in the long run. The stroke indicator and speed gauge are very nice to begin with - but like most calculating computer games, once you've got the angles right you only need to use one setting. This is good fun if you play a decent opponent, but solo playing tends to get very boring. As with Tenth Frame, Leader Board hasn't really hit it off with the Spectrum, but it is a fascinating (if a little easy) golf simulation.' PAUL

'I suppose everyone else has already said it, but here goes anyway, I think that golf games are a pretty boring end of the market. Having said that, Leader Board, while not being the most original game out, is actually quite playable. The graphics are very Hobbit-esque, in the way in which they take ages to build up, but the finished result is well worth the effort. I found the Hook and Slice hard to control - especially on the higher levels, as it seemed to influence the ball more. There are only a few golf games on the Spectrum, but this one is just about the best.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys: joystick only
Joystick: Interface 2, Kempston
Use of colour: Plenty of greenery, simple.
Graphics: Nicely animated golfer, lacking in other respects
Sound: Minimal spot FX
Skill levels: Three
Screens: Four 18-hole courses
General Rating: An excellent golfing simulation.

71%
82%
85%
72%
75%
80%

Screenshot Text

Making good use of his One Wood, Severiano Cameroneos clears the water trap and heads for the green. Fore!