PGA Tour Golf II (found build of HeartBeat Catalyst version of Sega Genesis golf game; 1995)
PGA Tour Golf II HeartBeat Catalyst coverart.
Date found: 30 May 2023
Found by: Isaiah M.V
PGA Tour Golf II is a golf video game developed by Polygon Games. Released on the Sega Genesis in 1992, and later the Game Gear in 1995, the game was the first sequel of the now long-running PGA Tour series. What is less known is that another version was developed exclusively for the Sega Genesis in America, which was programmed to function with the ill-fated HeartBeat Catalyst.
PGA Tour Golf II proved a critical and commercial success when it was first released on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. Particularly, the game sold strongly in the United Kingdom, dethroning Ecco the Dolphin as the top-selling Mega Drive game in the country. Meanwhile, Issue 22 of MegaTech awarded the game 94% for its vast features and control method, though still believed it was too similar to its predecessor. A retrospective review by Classic Gaming Quarterly believed the sequel improved upon the original PGA Tour Golf, especially in terms of graphics and overall content.
The HeartBeat Catalyst Version
Such was the game's success that it was considered for HeartBeat Corporation's fledging exercise peripheral, the HeartBeat Catalyst. Released exclusively in the United States on 24th November 1993, the Catalyst was a Genesis add-on that aimed to provide gamers with a cardiovascular workout as they played. It functioned as a heart-rate monitor and speed sensor for exercise bikes, treadmills and other fitness peripherals. Connection with the fitness device was achieved by attaching two Genesis controllers to the handlebars of compatible equipment. By clipping the Catalyst's pulse monitor onto the player's ear, the device is able to capture their heartrate and display it onto the television screen. From there, the player's exercise has a direct impact onto gameplay; if the player is under or overexercising, it would have a detrimental impact on the game itself. Success was therefore based around maintaining a strong, consistent workout.
Essentially, HeartBeat Corporation aimed to combine routine indoor exercise with gaming, establishing "exertainment" as it claimed in one promotion. The earliest confirmed mention of a Catalyst version PGA Tour Golf II arose in a promotion published by the Detroit Free Press on 22nd March 1994. In that promotion, it claimed PGA Tour Golf II and NHLPA Hockey would be released after a couple of months, occurring following the releases of tie-in platformer game Outback Joey and sci-fi driving game Outworld 2375 AD. Based on the back of this version's Genesis box, gameplay was again seemingly based on heart rate, with the ability to store workout stats. The instruction manual elaborates that if one is overexercising, the white swing bar doubles in speed, making hitting an accurate shot extremely difficult. By contrast, if one is underexercising, the swing bar can only move about 50%, increasing the likelihood of a hooked shot.
The Genesis box also confirms the game's release was seemingly delayed until 1995, although a commercial release has never been fully confirmed. Its disputed release likely stemmed from financial difficulties HeartBeat experienced following the Catalyst's commercial failure. The company aimed to sell the Catalyst for $199, and at $299 when combined with its own Genesis console called the HeartBeat Personal Trainer. Producing 1,000 Catalysts, not enough were sold for the Connecticut company to recuperate costs, and it was forced to transfer its assets to a sister organisation. This other company also suffered financial issues, dissolving on 8th September 1997. The last known mentions of the game arose in two promotions by Lansing State Journal on 4th and 17th April 1995.
Considering the poor commercial reception the Catalyst received, all its released games, including PGA Tour Golf II, are among the rarest titles for the Sega Genesis. The only known copy of Catalyst PGA Golf Tour II was obtained by YouTuber "videogameexperiment." After being taken to the Video Game Roadshow at the Portland Retro Game Expo, the game was valued between $2,000-$4,000 according to a panel of experts. videogameexperiment then collaborated with Vidja Gamer to produce a YouTube video revealing the key aspects of the Catalyst version, including altered gameplay and a bigger ROM chip. This was made possible after videogameexpert met with video game preservationist Frank Cifaldi at the Expo, the latter conducting a ROM dump on the game and tested on an Everdrive.
On May 30th, 2023, a ROM of the HeartBeat Catalyst version of an older version of the game was dumped to Archive.org by user Isaiah M.V. after they had obtained a version from the game months before it got dumped that was shared to them by a Video Game History Foundation user. An identical version of the game was then eventually dumped by the Hidden Palace on June 19th, 2023, after an owner of a prototype of the game, Brian Nocenti, shared and contributed a version of the game to the Hidden Palace.
- HeartBeat Catalyst (partially lost video games made for third-party Sega Genesis exercise peripheral; 1993-1995)
- Issue 8 of Mega reporting the original game was now topping the highest-selling Mega Drive titles in the UK. Retrieved 25th Mar '23
- Issue 22 of MegaTech reviewing the original Mega Drive version of the game. Retrieved 25th Mar '23
- Classic Gaming Quarterly review of the original game. Retrieved 25th Mar '23
- The Video Game Kraken summarising the Catalyst and games being developed for it. Retrieved 25th Mar '23
- 22nd March 1994 issue of Detroit Free Press promoting the game. Retrieved 25th Mar '23
- 4th April 1995 issue of Lansing State Journal including the game as part of a Catalyst promotion. Retrieved 25th Mar '23
- 17th April 1995 issue of Lansing State Journal including the game as part of a Catalyst promotion. Retrieved 25th Mar '23
- PGA Tour Golf II HeartBeat Catalyst version on Archive.org. Retrieved 17 Jun '23
- PGA Tour Golf II, dumped by the Hidden Palace Retrieved 29 Jun '23