The golfing game that is part of the Wii Sports disc that comes with every new Wii (at least in North America) isn't a particularly good representation of the sport, and it only has nine holes. But it is kind of fun in a "tech-demo" sort of way, and if nothing else, it leaves you craving a more fleshed-out golf game. And now, just weeks after the system's launch, that game has arrived in the form of Super Swing Golf, an entertaining and extremely quirky, albeit sometimes frustrating, golf game from Tecmo.
In case you were wondering, PangYa means 'bang!' in Korean.
Super Swing Golf is based on the popular (and free) online PC golf game known as Albatross 18 in North America and PangYa to most of the rest of the world. The two games are identical in many ways, though Super Swing is a strictly offline affair. There are several different modes of play, including stroke and match play tournaments, as well as a training area where you can learn and practice the basics. Up to four people can share one controller and play against each other in basic stroke or match play. That's all well and good, but the best multiplayer game is called balloon bash. This plays like any other round of golf, except for the giant balloons in the air and strewn about the ground. Your goal is to not only finish the hole in the fewest amount of strokes, but to also pop as many balloons as you can along the way. Because you can mess with your opponent by activating "party goods" such as a graffiti crayon that can write on the screen or a "wind god" fan that creates wind when you move the remote up and down, each person will need his or her own controller to play. Balloon bash is a lot of fun, but it's a shame that you can't play against the CPU or eschew the party goods so you could play against other human players and share one controller.
Most of your time will be spent playing Pangya Festa, which is the game's single-player story mode. Many years ago, Pangya Island fell victim to an evil force field that surrounded the island and began draining all of nature's energy away. The island's residents came up with a plan to rid themselves of this menace by concentrating the spirit of all living things into a ball called the Mystical Phoenix Ball and then shooting it into a hole in the force field using a stick called the Air Lance. A nameless warrior from another world used the stick to hit the ball into the hole, and now, many years later, the island commemorates the historic event with a symbolic festival where they play the game of Pangya, also known as golf. You'll start the game as a young boy named Scout, who was invited to the island and given the opportunity to win the Pangya championship. Along with the help of your caddie, a feisty girl named Pipin (who can freely travel between time and space, in case you were wondering), you'll take on an eclectic cast of characters such as Max, a tennis star who wants to become a fighter pilot, and Kooh, a little girl who also happens to be the captain of a pirate ship. Short cutscenes feature the golfers and their caddies engaging in some nonsensical banter before and after each round. The story's obviously not meant to be taken seriously, and it works on some levels, but sometimes it's a little too bizarre for its own good.
Super Swing can be played in one of two ways: by swinging the Wii Remote like a golf club, or by simply hitting the ball with timed button presses. To swing the club using the remote as a club, you stand as you would if you were preparing to address the ball in real golf. You start your swing by moving the remote back, and when you've reached the desired level of power, which is displayed on a meter at the bottom of the screen, you hold the A button and swing forward. You'll want to keep the remote straight as you swing through where the ball would be, because having the remote turned in or out has the same effect as having your club face open or closed in real golf--you'll slice or hook the ball. You do need to keep your head up a bit to see when you've achieved full power, which can sometimes cause you to not hit the ball quite straight; but for the most part, using the remote as a golf club works surprisingly well and you really feel as if you're hitting a ball. Putting is performed in the same manner as a regular swing, which doesn't quite replicate a real putting stroke, but it works.
It takes hours to get a handle on putting, and even then it can still be frustrating.
Unfortunately, there are several things that will likely cause you to prefer to swing using the remote's buttons, rather than using the motion-sensing controls all of the time. Swinging the remote is plenty accurate when playing against friends, but it's just not precise enough when taking on some of the more challenging CPU-controlled golfers. When you've got 45 minutes invested in a round, you don't want to lose because the game registered your shot at 15.9 yards when you needed 16.0 for the putt to drop. Despite its many similarities to the fast-paced Hot Shots Golf series, Super Swing is extremely slow paced. You can't fast-forward through your opponents' turn, much less skip the entire thing, which makes for some very long matches. Moving the camera, adjusting your aim, and just getting to the point where you're ready to hit the ball is cumbersome because you've got to move the pointer around onscreen, and hold odd button combinations. If you think you've got your shot lined up and then change your mind just before starting your swing, you've got to stand up and go through the whole process again. To be fair, it's not much simpler when you're using the buttons to control your swing, since you've still got to point to do everything else--but at least you're not constantly standing, crouching, swinging, and then standing while your opponent swings, for hours on end.